Peanuts: A Superfood that Can Help You Lose Weight and Improve Health

Peanuts: A Superfood that Can Help You Lose Weight and Improve Health

Peanuts are a highly popular snack all around the world. Perhaps you’ve just had them today as a snack while watching your favorite TV show or enjoyed them as delicious peanut butter on crunchy toast. However, they are also useful as part of various dishes, and surely, I won’t be alone in saying that I love peanut puffs, ice cream, or udon noodles in peanut sauce, which lend them their characteristic earthy-nutty flavour.

Peanuts offer more than just taste; they boast an excellent nutritional profile rich in valuable nutrients and they offer many additional benefits supported by scientific studies. However, they’re also one of the biggest allergens globally. In this article, we’ll explore everything about peanuts: their origin, nutritional value, usage, benefits, and risks associated with allergies.

In the article, you will read about the impact of peanuts on these areas:

What are peanuts?

You probably don’t need an introduction to the delicious and characteristic taste of peanuts. However, did you know that they somewhat deceive with their nutty appearance? They are not actually nuts, and you wouldn’t find them on a tree. Although peanuts are often called groundnuts, they actually belong to the legume family. Their relatives are not cashews, pistachios, or almonds, but rather beans, chickpeas, or lentils. Peanuts themselves are the fruit of the oilseed plant (Arachis hypogaea). This plant originates from South America and was domesticated over 6,000 years ago.

The plant is interesting because crunchy peanuts don’t grow above the ground like many other fruits, but rather underground. Their seeds gradually burrow into the soil, where they develop into hard pods with a netted structure. Inside these pods, there are usually at least one, but up to four seeds, encased in dark reddish shells, which we recognize as peanuts. If you were to pluck them raw directly from the plant, they would taste similar to peas. However, commonly found in stores are roasted or salted peanuts, which alter their taste into the form we enjoy crunching on while watching a movie in the evening, for example, in the form of peanut puffs. [1]

Peanuts are the fruit of the oilseed plant (Arachis hypogaea).

Health benefits of peanuts

Peanuts are known not only for their great taste but also for their positive effects on our health. That’s why you hear so much praise in this regard. It’s likely that you’ve heard about their impact on heart health, cognitive functions, blood sugar levels, and their potential association with lower rates of certain types of cancer. Below, we’ll delve into these and other benefits supported by scientific studies.

1. A handy aid in weight loss

Peanuts are rich in fats, proteins, and fibre. The fat itself is digested more slowly by our bodies, and along with it, digestion of other foods also slows down. This keeps food in the stomach longer, helping to delay the onset of stomach rumbling and feelings of hunger in general. Fats, along with proteins and fibre, also give peanuts leverage to not only help you combat hunger but also induce a greater sense of satiety.

This is precisely what fits into a diet as one of the pieces of the puzzle leading to weight loss or weight maintenance. It works thanks to proteins, which have a positive impact on ghrelin and leptin, the hunger and satiety hormones. These hormones send signals to your brain about how hungry or full you feel. Proteins, in fact, have the highest satiating capacity of all macronutrients. [16 – 27]

On the other hand, it must be noted that peanuts are quite calorie-dense foods, so their intake needs to be controlled. In 100 grams, there are approximately 591 kcal, which is equivalent to a substantial meal. Therefore, it will be much wiser to indulge in a smaller portion within your meal plan or diet. Peanuts are not a magical solution that will take your weight loss to a new level. They can only be a small aid if you’ll mainly rely on maintaining a calorie deficit. [3]

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2. Positive impact on heart health

In connection with healthy fats, peanuts, similar to nuts, are beneficial for heart health. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have a positive impact on cholesterol. Additionally, they contain various other nutrients such as antioxidants or vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, which contributes to the proper functioning of the heart. The impact of peanuts on heart health have also been examined by various studies. They indicate that consuming peanuts twice a week was associated with a 13 to 19% lower overall risk of cardiovascular diseases and a 15 to 23% lower risk of ischemic heart disease. [4]

Peanuts are also associated with heart health due to their content of resveratrol, which belongs to antioxidants. A French study from 2016 suggests that resveratrol has a positive effect on inflammation in vascular endothelium and its function. Moreover, an increased concentration of resveratrol has been linked to a reduction in the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, whose high levels are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and coronary artery disease. [5]

3. Aid in blood sugar levels management

Peanuts can be an excellent aid for people with diabetes. They belong to foods with a low glycemic index (GI). There’s a mechanism called GI scale and any food that gets the GI rating in the range of 1-55 is considered to have low GI. Peanuts have a GI value of 15, making them one of the best in this regard.

They can thus help better control blood sugar levels because they have a relatively low carbohydrate content and a high content of fats, proteins, and fibre. Digestion and absorption of proteins take longer than carbohydrates, which is also facilitated by the presence of fibre. Thanks to fibre, energy can be released more steadily without major fluctuations. Therefore, peanuts can shine as a great component of complex meals, helping to reduce their overall GI. [6 – 7]

Peanuts belong to foods with a low glycemic index.

4. Potential reduction in the risk of developing certain types of cancer

The consumption of peanuts is also often evaluated by studies in regards to the reduced risk of cancer development. In this case, peanuts rely on unsaturated fats, bioactive compounds, vitamins, and minerals they contain. Specifically, we can mention phytosterols, which, according to one study, were associated with a reduction in prostate tumor growth by more than 40%. Additionally, a positive effect on reducing the incidence of cancer spreading to other parts of the body by almost 50% was observed. [1]

Phytosterols are also associated with a positive impact or inhibitory effect on lung and stomach cancer, as well as ovarian and breast cancer. Resveratrol may also be interesting in this regard, as according to a study by German authors, it can limit blood supply to growing tumors or cancer cells. However, the mentioned studies are limited, and more research is still needed for a better understanding of the relationship between peanuts and different types of cancer. [1, 8 – 9, 32]

5. Potential positive impact on gallstones

Gallstones are solid formations of varying sizes that typically form in the gallbladder and bile ducts. They develop from deposits of bile, which over time solidify and form objects roughly resembling the stones from Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet. While they often don’t cause any problems, they won’t give you control over the entire universe either. In some cases, they can lead to inflammation of the gallbladder or biliary colic, which is sudden and intense abdominal pain lasting usually for one or several hours. Medical assistance is necessary in such situations.

The formation of gallstones is a complex issue influenced by various factors. However, it appears that a significant role in gallstone formation is played by the person’s ability to limit the consumption of highly processed foods high in saturated fats. Examples include ultra-processed meats such as sausages and cured meats, as well as various sweets. Peanuts could potentially be helpful in dealing with gallstones. While the oilseed plant is not a miracle that can make gallstones disappear, peanuts can still be interesting in this regard. Studies show that consuming peanuts (as well as consuming nuts in general) is associated with a lower risk of developing gallstones. Therefore, they can theoretically serve as a tool for prevention[11 – 12]

Health benefits of peanuts

6. Antioxidant effects

Peanuts are also known for their antioxidant effects, which can help fight against free radicals. An excess of these radicals in your body leads to oxidative stress when your antioxidant capacity is insufficient to neutralize them. Peanuts’ ability to combat oxidative stress is primarily attributed to the abundance of vitamins, bioactive compounds, and minerals they contain. Many of these substances are found in the skin, so you can benefit from them the most if you opt in for unpeeled raw peanuts. [10]

Antioxidants in peanuts

In peanuts, there is a whole bunch of antioxidants, which we’ll discuss below. [13 – 15]

  • Phytosterols are a group of plant sterols that, among other things, can increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes, thereby reducing oxidative stress.
  • P-coumaric acid belongs to polyphenols and is one of the main antioxidants in peanuts.
  • Isoflavones are one class of polyphenols that are often the subject of research for various health benefits.
  • Resveratrol is known as a powerful antioxidant that, according to studies, is associated with a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and delaying aging.
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol), selenium, and zinc are essential nutrients that help the body combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage.

Thanks to these substances, peanuts can be one of the pieces of the puzzle for anyone who wants to take maximum care of their health and vitality. Oxidative stress is associated with possible damage to cellular structures and may be implicated in various chronic, neoplastic, inflammatory, and metabolic diseases. Examples include certain types of cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, or atherosclerosis. However, more relevant studies are needed in the future for more precise results in these areas. [16, 28]

The foundation of combating oxidative stress can also be a diet that is of sufficient quality, diverse, and as colourful as possible, as presented in the article What Is a Healthy Diet and How to Learn to Eat Healthily?

Antioxidants in peanuts

7. Positive effect on cognitive functions

If you’ve ever Googled peanuts, you’ve probably come across many sources mentioning their positive impact on cognitive functions. These are, by the way, the functions that allow you to perceive the world around you. This includes memory, judgment, problem-solving, thinking, analyzing, learning, and language use.

Supporting these claims is, for example, a study that examined young individuals and the impact of peanut consumption on their cognitive functions and stress response. Participants in the study consumed 25 g of peanuts daily for six months. It was found that such regular consumption could improve memory function and stress response. Similarly to some of the points mentioned earlier, this positive effect is mainly attributed to the content of polyphenols. These compounds contribute to the protection of nerve cells due to their antioxidant effect.

The positive impact in this aspect is also associated with the zinc content found in peanuts, which contributes to proper cognitive functioning. Additionally, a study from Austria mentions some good results of peanuts in this regard. It suggests that regular consumption of unsalted unpeeled peanuts can improve cerebrovascular and cognitive functions. [29]

8. Help with gaining muscle mass

Peanuts contain approximately 591 calories per 100 grams, with about 26 grams of protein. Proteins support the growth and maintenance of muscles, however, due to the high fat and calorie content, peanuts may be more appreciated in this regard by people who have trouble gaining weight or have difficulty building muscle mass.

For these people, peanuts can be one of the tools that can help increase calorie intake while providing a decent amount of protein. In a bulking diet with a calorie surplus, peanuts can play the role of a great snack, no matter if you eat them raw, roasted, or in the form of a spoonful of peanut butter. And in combination with a high-quality gainer, they can create a really nice calorie bomb that will be appreciated by every ectomorph struggling to gain muscle.

Peanuts can help in gaining muscle mass.

9. Other potential health benefits of peanuts

If you think we’ve already covered enough about peanuts, their potential health benefits are far from over. These legumes are often the subject of various studies due to their nutrient content, which has revealed further interesting findings. [1, 18 – 22]

  • Thanks to their properties, peanuts may have a positive impact on Alzheimer’s disease.
  • People who consume peanuts tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI).
  • Peanuts can have a positive impact on your bones. They contain phosphorus and proteins, which contribute to maintaining healthy bones.
  • Thanks to their arginine content, peanuts may have a positive effect on mild symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
  • Due to their content of sulfur amino acids such as cysteine and methionine, peanuts contribute to the production of keratin, which is associated with healthy hair.

Not only do these aspects demonstrate that peanuts belong among the most intriguing foods, enriching your diet with valuable nutrients. Furthermore, we cannot overlook their distinct, delightful taste, savored in various ways.

What is a nutritional value of peanuts?

The amount of energy and nutrients in peanuts may vary slightly. Reasons for this can include diverse climatic conditions during cultivation, storage, or the way peanuts are processed (roasted, salted, flavoured, etc.). However, when looking at the values in general, the average nutritional table for raw peanuts looks as follows [2]:

Nutritional Values of Peanuts

per 100 g
Energy Value591 kcal / 2470 kJ
Protein25.8 g
Fat49 g
– of which monounsaturated fatty acids24.4 g
– of which polyunsaturated fatty acids15.6 g
Carbohydrates7.5 g
Fibre8.5 g

What macronutrients do peanuts contain?

  • Peanuts are primarily sought after for their abundance of healthy fats, comprising monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are predominantly composed of oleic acid.
  • At the same time, they feature a high protein content, offering an intriguing spectrum of essential amino acids comparable to soy.
  • They also contain a high fibre content that is beneficial for optimal digestion and the intestinal microbiome.

What micronutrients are in peanuts?

In what forms can you enjoy peanuts?

Returning to basics, the most authentic flavour comes from unroasted peanuts, devoid of salt, oil, or any additives. Hence, you can relish them in their natural state or opt for flavoured or altered variations.

  • As a rule, unpeeled nuts contain a little more nutrients, since the peel is also rich in a lot of bioactive substances.
  • For many, peeled ones are more delicate in taste.
  • Roasting enhances their allure, imparting a less creamy yet subtly sweet earthy-nutty taste. They come in various renditions, including salted, unsalted, or seasoned varieties.
  • Encased in coatings like wasabi or paired with salted caramel or honey, they offer a delightful blend of salty, sweet, and spicy notes. Despite their delectable taste, these variations are more heavily processed, compromising their nutritional quality compared to pure, minimally processed counterparts. Typically, they contain high amounts of salt and additives.
  • In yogurt or chocolate – these peanut combinations are common, whether in white yogurt or dark chocolate, offering an enticing blend of flavours for those with a sweet tooth.
  • In the form of peanut butters, available in both classic smooth and crunchy varieties. Alternatively, there’s BIO peanut butter with a delightful taste and creamy texture, perfect on its own, on toast, with fruit, or in oatmeal. Another option is powdered peanut butter, offering versatility in cooking and baking with fewer calories.
  • In the form of peanut puffs, which are a very popular snack and an alternative to potato crisps. However, this is another processed food, which, in addition to peanuts, consists mostly of corn flour, semolina, palm oil, salt and other ingredients.
Unshelled peanuts are the richest in bioactive substances

Are peanuts safe?

In addition to all the benefits and positive news about peanuts, we must also mention that they are among the strongest allergens. This is also why you can often come across the warning “contains peanuts” on food labels, where peanuts are also stated in bold in the allergen table. In most cases, this allergy is diagnosed by a doctor and you will notice its first symptoms relatively quickly. In Western countries, the incidence of peanut allergy is between 1.5% and 3%. [30]

It is manifested by swelling, itching, redness of the skin, itching of the nose, sneezing or coughing. However, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or a strong anaphylactic reaction are not exceptions. If you suffer from such an allergy, you certainly know that the best solution is to eliminate peanuts from your diet and be careful about their content in other foods. The list of allergens is a good aid for this, where peanuts are in the EU marked with the number 5. [23 – 24]

People with histamine intolerance should also be careful with peanuts. This is most often manifested by gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms, such as itching of the skin, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or constipation. However, its symptoms also include a cough, swelling of the mucous membrane or a headache. Here again, individuals should follow a histamine diet. However, everyone should monitor the symptoms for themselves, because it is a very complex problem and what irritates one person in the case of histamine intolerance may not be a problem for someone else. [25]

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Can peanuts be consumed during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Concerns about the consumption of peanuts or nuts during pregnancy are long gone. Today we know that even ladies can enjoy them during this period without fear of increasing the risk of allergies in their child. In actuality, the presence of peanuts in the diet might be helpful, because, as we mentioned above, they contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial for the development of the child. Peanuts during pregnancy or breastfeeding are perfectly fine, as long as they do not cause problems for the woman herself. [31]

How many peanuts can you eat a day?

When asked how many peanuts are too many peanuts, peanut lovers would probably say that such a number does not exist. But is there a limit where you should start being concerned? A handful, i.e. approx. 35 grams, is a general recommendation for the daily consumption of peanuts. In this amount, it can be said that they will enrich your diet with additional nutrients. On the other hand, the daily consumption of peanuts can easily be higher. However, you should always bear in mind that it is a relatively caloric food and their intake should therefore be in line with your total daily energy intake.

How can you incorporate peanuts in your diet?

Peanuts are an universal food that won’t go unnoticed in your kitchen. They effortlessly enhance both savoury and sweet dishes, snacks, or breakfast options. Here are some examples of their versatile uses:

In case you are looking for inspiration on how to enjoy peanuts in a way that will make your taste buds dance, be sure to check out our recipe section.


Peanuts stand out as a versatile treat that’s sure to please, not just for their delicious flavour but also for their nutritional richness. Bursting with healthy fats, proteins, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds, they offer a plethora of health benefits. Their consumption is safe for those without allergies or intolerances, making them a versatile ingredient for a wide array of snacks and both savory and sweet dishes.

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