Peanuts and peanut butter and peanut oil are energy and nutrient dense. Peanut oil's unsaturated lipid profile resembles that of olive oil.
All figures given below are per 100g serving1
|raw kernels||564 kcal/2341kJ|
|roasted and salted||602 kcal/2491kJ|
|dry roasted||589 kcal/2441kJ|
|smooth peanut butter||623 kcal/2581kJ|
|peanut oil||899 kcal/3898kJ|
Peanuts differ from other legumes by having a high oil content.
The high oil content of peanuts is composed of over 75% unsaturated fatty acids. Primarily oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid C18:1) and linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acid C18:2).
Peanut oil is nutritionally similar to olive oil in the proportions of fatty acids it contains, being high in monounsaturates and low in saturates (SFA), with monounsaturated oleic acid (C18:1) predominating:
|SFA||MUFA||PUFA||MUFA + PUFA|
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat have been shown to decrease total and LDL-cholesterol levels when substituted for saturated fat, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Unsaturated fats have also generally been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Peanuts contain no cholesterol.
It is generally accepted that the majority of fats consumed should be unsaturated and that reducing the intake of saturated fats is the key dietary factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This accords with the view that the "Mediterranean diet", in which monounsaturated fatty acids obtained from olive oil predominate and there are also high intakes of vegetables and fruit, is associated with lower rates of coronary heart disease.
Fatty acid fractions:
|roasted and salted||9.5||24.1||16.5||53.0|
|smooth peanut butter||11.7||21.3||18.4||53.7|
The polyunsaturated linoleic acid in peanuts is also a source of "essential fatty acids", which the body cannot make sufficiently for itself and which must be present in dietary sources. Ensuring adequate intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids is a good way to encourage antioxidant vitamin E intake.
The favourable fatty acid profile of peanuts means they can contribute to a mixed diet which reduces total fat and saturated fatty acid intakes overall. The DASH - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension - Diet developed at Harvard University is one example.
The protein in peanuts and peanut butter is high quality vegetable protein, naturally cholesterol-free, and associated with significant amounts of fibre which differentiates it from animal protein. Peanut protein can be incorporated readily into vegetarian and vegan eating patterns as well as snacks and main meals by everyone else. Peanuts have more protein by weight than other nuts. This qualifies peanuts for a nutrition claim in the European Union because the nutrient is present at a level of at least 15% of the EU daily requirement level. Peanuts are thus a recognised “source of protein” and eligible to use a consumer message that this “contributes to a growth in and maintenance of muscle mass.”
|roasted and salted||24.5g|
|smooth peanut butter||22.6g|
Peanuts and peanut butter contain both soluble and insoluble types.
Higher fibre eating patterns have been shown to decrease the risks of coronary heart disease, cancer of the colon and diabetes.
|roasted and salted||6.0||1.9||4.2|
|smooth peanut butter||5.4||1.6||3.8|
* figures have been rounded
Fibre levels in peanut butter are comparable to those found in many types of dried fruit, while the levels in raw and roasted peanuts are higher than common dried fruits such as prunes (5.7g/100g) and raisins (2.0g/100g).
Major minerals and trace elements are found in peanuts.
Calcium (Ca) - contributes to formation and maintenance of bone and teeth
|roasted and salted||37.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||37.0mg|
Chloride (Cl) - contributes to balancing sodium and potassium in cells
|roasted and salted||360.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||500.0mg|
Copper (Cu) - helps support normal functioning of the immune system
|roasted and salted||0.54mg|
|smooth peanut butter||0.70mg|
Iodine (I) - necessary for normal thyroid, neurological and cognitive functions
|roasted and salted||19.0µg|
|smooth peanut butter||n/a|
Iron (Fe) - essential for normal functioning of red blood cells, oxygen transport around the body and avoidance of tiredness and fatigue
|roasted and salted||1.30mg|
|smooth peanut butter||2.10mg|
Magnesium (Mg) - contributes to metabolic health and normal muscle and nerve function
|roasted and salted||180.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||180.0mg|
Manganese (Mn) - contributes to normal formation of connective tissue and protection of body cells from oxidative damage
|roasted and salted||1.9mg|
|smooth peanut butter||1.7mg|
Phosphorus (P) - contributes to normal function of cell membranes, energy metabolism and maintenance of normal bones and teeth
|roasted and salted||410.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||330.0mg|
Potassium (K) - helps maintain normal blood pressure, muscular and neurological function
|roasted and salted||810.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||700.0mg|
Selenium (Se) - contributes to normal thyroid function, maintenance of normal hair and nails, normal function of the immune system and protection of cells against oxidative damage
|roasted and salted||4.0µg|
|smooth peanut butter||3.0µg|
Sodium (Na) - essential for maintenance of normal muscle function and fluid control in body cells
|roasted and salted||400.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||350.0mg|
Sulphur (S) - found in foods high in protein and is a component of the amino acids methionine and cysteine
|roasted and salted||360.0mg|
|smooth peanut butter||330.0mg|
Zinc (Zn) - contributes to normal function of the immune system, normal DNA synthesis and cell division and protection of body cells from oxidative damage
|roasted and salted||2.9mg|
|smooth peanut butter||3.0mg|
Antioxidant Vitamin E, a range of B vitamins and folate are characteristic of peanuts and peanut butter.
Biotin - contributes to maintenance of normal skin, hair and mucous membranes
|roasted and salted||102.0µg|
|smooth peanut butter||94.0µg|
Folate - contributes to normal development of mother and child during pregnancy, normal blood formation and function of the immune system:
|roasted and salted||52.0µg|
|smooth peanut butter||53.0µg|
Niacin (B3) - contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal function of immune system and normal psychological functions
|roasted and salted||13.6mg|
|smooth peanut butter||12.5mg|
Pantothenate - contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and normal mental performance
|roasted and salted||1.70mg|
|smooth peanut butter||1.56mg|
Pyridoxin (B6) - contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and psychological function
|roasted and salted||0.63mg|
|smooth peanut butter||0.58mg|
Riboflavin (B2) - contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism
|roasted and salted||0.10mg|
|smooth peanut butter||0.09mg|
Thiamin (B1) - contributes to the normal function of the heart and nervous system
|roasted and salted||0.18mg|
|smooth peanut butter||0.17mg|
Vitamin E - a fat soluble vitamin, contributes to the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage
|roasted and salted||0.66mg|
|smooth peanut butter||4.99mg|
Future directions for peanut and health research
The spectrum of new and emerging research related to peanuts and health is expanding. It already reaches beyond the well-established interest in healthy fats by investigating bioactive and anti-inflammatory constituents of peanuts for their health protecting qualities.
Application of this research will produce a better understanding of disease risk reduction and practical dietary interventions. Target areas are likely to include type two diabetes, some cancers and cognitive health. Nutrition's impact on these is likely to be the next emerging chapter in the peanuts and health story.
The American Peanut Council, on behalf of the entire US peanut industry, is an enthusiastic advocate of these future research directions.