Peanuts are literally packed with nutrients: folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, choline, Vitamin E and B6, as well as minerals like phosphorus, zinc, potassium, iron, selenium, manganese, and copper. They also contain resveratrol, which is a potent antiaging molecule.
Peanuts are also rich in fiber and protein which are responsible for improving satiety and aiding weight loss.
However, peanuts also contain a number of antinutrients, i.e. substances that impair the absorption of nutrients and decrease nutritional value. The most noteworthy antinutrient found in peanuts is phytic acid (phytate) which reduces the availability of zinc and iron in peanuts, lowering their nutritional value. This is usually not a serious concern in people who consume meat on a regular basis, as well as in those eating a well-balanced diet. Nonetheless, it can be a problem in developing countries where the main food sources are legumes and grains. If you follow a paleo diet then peanuts are not recommended due to their an antinutrient content but generally they are fine for most people to consume in moderation.
Common Concerns Surrounding Nuts
The big question is: How much nuts should you consume daily?
Nuts make a great snack between meals and can be a good addition to salads or meals to provide extra protein. They are high in fat and calories though so it’s important to consider this when adding them to your diet and looking at your overall food consumption for the day.
Most experts recommend limiting your daily intake to 1.5 oz. or ¼ cup per day, a small handful is a good guide for most people. The fats found in nuts are healthy unsaturated fats which, along with fiber and protein which help appetite suppression.
As we discussed above each nut has its own unique profile of benefits so mixing nuts is a great way to make sure you’re getting a wide range of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Some of my favourite ways of incorporating nuts into my diet is adding chopped walnuts and pecans to my breakfast oats in the morning. A chopped apple dipped in almond butter is also a delicious snack between meals.
Finally, beware of nut allergies. Nuts are on the list of the 8 most common food allergens. A severe case of allergic nut reaction can result in an anaphylactic shock, which manifests with a sudden drop of blood pressure and unconsciousness. For this reason, avoid giving nuts to children younger than eight months.