By Funke Oshifuye
People with heart conditions might have found a big ally in peanuts because of its richness in monounsaturated fats. Peanuts also feature an array of other nutrients that, in numerous studies, have been shown to promote heart health.
They are good sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. In addition, peanuts provide resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes and red wine that is thought to be good for the heart.
Studies suggests that resveratrol reduces stroke risk by reducing susceptibility of the blood vessels to vascular damage through decreased activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone that causes blood vessel constriction which would in turn elevate blood pressure) and by increasing production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.
Peanuts apart from containing oleic acid, the healthful fat found in olive oil, they are also as rich in antioxidants as many fruits. Roasted peanuts do rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets.
Research has shown that peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid, and that when roasted, peanuts’ p-coumaric acid level can be increased, boosting their overall antioxidant content by as much as 22 percent. P-coumaric acid is thought to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Studies have also shown that women who eat a handful of peanuts or peanut butter each week have a 25 percent lower risk of developing gallstones.
Since 1 ounce is only 28.6g nuts or about 2 tablespoons of nut butter, preventing gallbladder disease may be as easy as spreading peanut butter on your bread, preferably whole wheat bread for its fibre, vitamins and minerals for breakfast, or snacking on a handful of peanuts when you feel like eating in-between your meals.
Because peanuts are rich in niacin, its regular consumption provides protection against age-related cognitive decline because it contributes to brain health and blood flow to the brain. A quarter cup provides about a quarter of the daily recommended intake for niacin (16 mg per day for men and 14 mg per day for women).
Note that peanuts are susceptible to mould and fungal infection, especially by aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a very powerful and dangerous known carcinogen that may cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Roasted peanuts are thought to offer more protection against aflatoxin and also improves peanuts’ digestibility. To eliminate the risk of aflatoxin ingestion, it is wise to ensure that your peanuts are stored in a dry and cool environment.