Peanuts are not actually nuts, but belong to the legume family. They are rich in many important nutrients that can help the human body stay healthy and enable it to combat a variety of diseases and health conditions. Given the many health benefits of peanuts, as well as their easy availability around the world, it is not surprising that peanuts have gained recognition as both a snack food and a health food.
One of the important health benefits of peanuts is their high energy-conferring ability; this is the reason that many energy bars usually include some peanut content. Another important factor is the presence of monounsaturated fats in peanuts. These fats prevent cholesterol formation and therefore greatly reduce the risk of heart-related diseases.
Peanuts also contain small amounts of an antioxidant called resveratrol. This antioxidant is known to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Resveratrol, which also occurs in larger amounts in grapes that are used to make red wine, has been found to improve the flow of blood to the brain, which reduces the risk of a stroke.
The presence of another antioxidant, known as p-coumaric acid, is responsible for the anti-carcinogenic health benefits of peanuts. Researchers think that eating peanuts on a regular basis may lower the risk of stomach and colon cancer. In addition, the fiber provided by peanuts is known to aid with the digestion process.
The health benefits of peanuts are also augmented by the presence of vitamins D and E. Vitamin D is essential for healthy skin and to prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis. Vitamin E can be useful in combating cataracts, arthritis, memory loss and other age-related concerns.
Peanuts contain manganese, which assists in insulin formation, and so they can be suitable for people with diabetes. Calcium, which is also found in peanuts, promotes healthier bones and works against insomnia. The legumes also contain essential proteins that the body needs for promoting hair growth, carrying out tissue repairs, and facilitating enzyme and hormone production.
While peanuts can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, crushed or in peanut butter form, the fresh ones have the highest nutrition content. It is important to check the legumes when buying to make sure they are not too old; eating these could lead to food poisoning. As with all things, it is advisable to exercise moderation. Even given the many health benefits of peanuts, it is not a good idea to consume them in large quantities. Peanuts are high in calories, and, if eaten in excess, may cause weight gain.