The oil extracted from peanuts or groundnuts is basically used as a cooking oil, as well as a carrier oil. However, this oil has some medicinal properties as well. In Southeast Asia, it is the preferred cooking oil. Peanut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for high-temperature cooking. This oil is known to possess a light nutty aroma and a pleasing taste.
The Nutrition Facts
Peanut oil is known for its high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids, and this is the reason why it is considered a healthy oil. 1 cup of peanut oil, i.e. about 216 gm of this oil contains 99.79 gm monounsaturated fats, 69.12 gm polyunsaturated fats, and 39. 5 gm saturated fats.
This oil does not contain cholesterol, proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. However, vitamin E and vitamin K can be found in this oil. About 1 cup of peanut oil can give 33.9 mg vitamin E and 1.5 mcg vitamin K. The same amount of oil contains about 1910 calories.
The Benefits of Peanut Oil
The monounsaturated fats are known to be good for the health of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Peanut oil contains a very high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids. It contains a high level of oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid. The following are some of the important benefits of this oil.
- It can help lower the level of bad LDL cholesterol in the body, as it contains a high level of monounsaturated fatty acids. LDL or low density lipoprotein is the cholesterol that forms plaques in the inner walls of the arteries, which in turn can raise the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases.
- While lowering the level of LDL cholesterol, this oil can help increase the level of HDL cholesterol in the body. HDL cholesterol is known to be good for the heart, as it helps transport cholesterol from the arteries to the liver. Liver is the organ that plays a crucial role in the elimination of cholesterol from the body.
- This oil contains linoleic acid, which acts as a precursor to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are the hormone-like substances that help reduce pain and inflammation, and regulate the contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles and the blood vessels.
- A healthy diet that includes a moderate amount of healthy fats like monounsaturated fats, may prove helpful in reducing weight. Peanut oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats.
- It has been observed in an animal study (published in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine) that, groundnut or its oil can be effective in decreasing the blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes.
- It contains vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant that can provide protection against the cellular damage caused by the free radicals.
- When used for massaging, this oil has been found to be very effective in relieving the pain associated with arthritis.
- Along with vitamin E, this oil contains vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting.
- Apart from these, this oil can be used for skin conditions like acne and blackheads. When combined with lemon juice, it can prevent blackheads and help get rid of acne scars.
One interesting finding about this oil is that it contains lectins. The lectins found in this oil are very sticky, and they can attach to the arterial walls and contribute to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. This effect was noted in some earlier experiments, where this oil was given to animals. This finding has somewhat shrouded the health benefits of this oil. On the other hand, this oil has been found to lower the level of LDL cholesterol in the body, which can boost the health of the heart and the cardiovascular system.
So, the benefits of peanut oil for the heart and the cardiovascular system are not very clear, but still, it is usually not considered an unhealthy oil when used occasionally for cooking. However, people allergic to peanut cannot use this oil. They can substitute it with some good alternatives, like canola oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.