Groundnuts: The Elixir for Heart

Groundnuts: The Elixir for Heart

Tough to resist nuts with high protein content are groundnuts, a nutritional powerhouse. They belong to the pea family and find usage in varying culinary cultures. Groundnuts are multitaskers- a human dietary source and food source for animals. In addition, they are edible oilseeds because of their high oil content. They are laden with beneficial nutrients for protecting the heart. 

Groundnuts primarily grow in the tropics and subtropics. They develop pods underground. Therefore, botanist Carl Linnaeus called them “hypogaea”, specifically “under the earth”.

Did you know that peanuts, one of the pantry staples, is a type of groundnut? Roasted peanuts are a popular snack. Furthermore, several other dishes such as peanut butter, peanut oil, peanut flour, and protein powder use this groundnut as the primary ingredient. 

Types of Groundnut

There are multiple nut varieties under the groundnut family. They get categorised due to selective breeding, geographical location, and differences in composition.

Bambara Groundnut

Bambara groundnut, scientifically termed as Vigna subterranea, is a groundnut variety that belongs to the Fabaceae family. It is a legume indigenous to West Africa. Bambara groundnut is drought tolerant and serves as an inexpensive dietary protein source. Therefore, cultivation is economical for its underground which are rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Compared to other groundnut varieties, Bambara groundnuts show more resistance to climate change, diseases, and pests. Furthermore, you can easily find them either roasted or boiled in local markets.

One eats groundnuts as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack at a household level. Moreover, you can find them in cream, white, red, dark brown, black, or a combination of these colours. In Africa, the mature seeds make flour. Therefore, the high protein content in Bambara groundnuts makes it a valuable addition to food and beverages.

Peanuts

Peanuts, also called Arachis hypogaea, represent one kind of groundnut family. Thus, it is a subset of the groundnut family. Both peanuts and groundnuts are rich in oil and nutrition. Most groundnuts can be either circular or cylindrical, while peanuts exhibit cylindrical pods. 

Groundnut and peanut may have different applications and properties. For example, peanuts are popular as a snack, confectionery, butter, and nutritional supplement. On the other hand, cooking oil extraction, herbal supplements, and snack items are the primary uses of groundnut. Peanuts do not have any further categorisation, whereas groundnuts have Hausa groundnut and Bambara groundnut.

Hausa Groundnut

Hausa groundnut, popularly known as tiger nut, is a perennial groundnut eaten as a snack food. Widespread in Madagascar, Asia, Europe, and Africa, this type of groundnut can be consumed raw, boiled, roasted, and baked. Hausa groundnuts make flour, non-alcoholic milk beverages, starch extracts, butter, and oil. It is similar to groundnut with detoxifying potential. So if you’re lactose intolerant, the Hausa groundnut milk drink might be perfect for you.

The extensive nutritional benefits of Hausa groundnut make it highly valuable in the western market. Its high iron and vitamin C levels may tackle malnutrition and prevent anaemia. Like other nuts, Hausa groundnuts are a rich source of unsaturated fat. It is also a vital protein source for vegetarians.

Nutritional Value of Groundnuts

One hundred grams of raw groundnuts contain:

  • Calories: 564kCal
  • Moisture: 6%
  • Protein: 26 grams
  • Carbs: 18.6 grams
  • Soluble sugar: 4.5 % 
  • Crude Fibre: 2.1%
  • Fat: 47.5 grams
  • Oil: 48.2%
  • Starch: 11.5%

Minerals and Vitamins:

  • Calcium- 69 milligrams 
  • Iron- 2.1 milligrams
  • Phosphorus- 401 milligrams
  • Magnesium-168 milligrams
  • Vitamin B3- 17.2 milligrams
  • Vitamin B1- 1.14 milligrams

Health Benefits of Groundnuts

Groundnuts: The Elixir for Heart- HealthifyMe

1. Healthy Skin

Groundnuts help with eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. It is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, which protect the skin by fighting against free radicals. Moreover, the vitamin C content in groundnuts boosts collagen production in our bodies. A healthy level of collagen maintains the elasticity and firmness of the skin. So, eating a handful of groundnuts a day keeps the skin healthy and supple.

2. Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Groundnuts have healthy unsaturated fats. These are polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. They also contain protein, fibre, and minerals like magnesium, folate, thiamin, and vitamin B6. These nutrients are essential in maintaining heart health. 

Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant present in raw and roasted groundnuts, helps fight heart problems. It reduces cellular damage and provides a protective effect on cardiovascular patients. Resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic properties. They act together in reducing inflammation in the body. Resveratrol in groundnuts also helps prevent blood vessel damage caused by angiotensin.

Peanuts supply a high quantity of flavonoids such as catechin, epicatechin, luteolin, and apigenin. They may help in lowering bad LDL cholesterol by 30-40%. Interestingly, people with 10% lower cholesterol reduce the risk of heart diseases by 20%.

3. Improves Mental Health

Groundnuts are rich in brain-healthy essential nutrients like polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and vitamin B3. These nutrients are necessary for strengthening the brain and boosting memory power. 

A study shows that niacin helps in lowering age-related memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease. People who have a diet rich in groundnuts may have a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s. They may even show good memory power. Furthermore, our brain uses vitamin E from groundnuts as antioxidants to protect our brain against chemical breakdown. Therefore, this ensures normal brain functioning and memory. 

4. Improves Fertility in Men and Women

Groundnuts are rich in folate that is responsible for improving fertility in men. Men’s fertility directly correlates with the quality of sperm, sperm count and libido. According to one research, men facing fertility issues, consuming 5mg of folic acid and 66 mg of zinc sulfate for 26 weeks, had noticed a 74% increase in sperm count. The fatty acids present in groundnuts help in blood circulation in the genitals and help in erectile dysfunction—omega6 fatty acids aid in improving reproductive cell structure.

Groundnuts are a rich source of magnesium. Magnesium is also responsible for fertility in women and the healthy growth of the fetus. Magnesium helps in increasing blood flow to the uterus to nourish it. It also regulates the hormonal levels, especially the pregnancy hormone “progesterone, ” which conceives a healthy pregnancy. 

The magnesium deficiency may lead to spasms in the fallopian tube, hindering egg implantation. Moreover, the folate in groundnuts is beneficial before and after pregnancy. Thus folate and magnesium provide a combined effect on fertility. 

5. Aids Weight Loss

Groundnuts are energy-dense foods that make you feel satiated and help in appetite management, reducing the intake of calories by unnecessary munching on foods. Moreover, protein content in groundnuts also helps in increasing the metabolic rate. High metabolism helps reduce weight because burning calories to perform all bodily functions properly. Therefore, higher metabolism helps in weight loss by burning excess calories.

6. Helps Fight Depression

Groundnuts supply tryptophan, an essential amino acid that boosts serotonin production. It is a chemical involved in mood regulation by exhibiting antidepressant effects. Therefore, eating a sufficient amount of groundnut will increase serotonin levels in the blood and stimulate antidepressant effects. 

Ways to Use Groundnuts

Boiling

You can boil fresh groundnuts with salt. Boiled groundnuts are easy to digest and have a sweet aroma. Boiling is the most beneficial way to use groundnuts for pregnant women.

Frying

Frying is a method popular among adolescents and younger adults. Groundnuts are soaked in saltwater for about 30 minutes and get strained completely. You can use fine sand while frying groundnuts to retain heat and get a roasted texture. However, it may cause protein denaturation and increase the fat content.

Sprouting

Sprouted groundnuts help in weight management. Also, sprouting improves the Vitamin C and B content in groundnuts. It is nutritionally ideal for geriatric and pediatric diets. 

First, to sprout groundnuts, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. Then, after draining the warm water:

  1. Soak the groundnuts in cold water for 12 – 20 hours and drain them thoroughly afterwards.
  2. Set it aside under shades, and you may cover it with a cloth.
  3. Rinse and drain with cold water thoroughly for the next 8-10 days. Then, you can take the sprouts no later than ten days.

Potential Side Effects of Groundnuts

Weight Gain 

Daily consuming excessive quantities of groundnuts may result in weight gain. Groundnuts contain high calories content, 564 calories per 100 grams. 12-25 groundnuts are the recommended quantity to eat every day. If you’re taking in more groundnuts and burning fewer calories, it will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain. 

Allergies

Some people are allergic to groundnuts like peanuts. An allergic response will trigger the immune system to create aggravating mechanisms against the proteins in groundnuts. As a result, you may get rashes, swelling, stomach ache, hives, redness, or itching. The allergic reaction to groundnuts can be either mild or severe.

Anti Nutrients

Most groundnuts contain phosphorus in the form of phytic acid. Phytic acids are also known as anti-nutrients, which hinder the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium in the body. It also restricts the digestibility of protein in the body. Therefore, this may lead to mineral deficiency in the body and cause several allergies and irritation in the intestinal tract. 

Aflatoxin Contamination

The harvest period of groundnut witnesses aflatoxin contamination, a specific type of carcinogen produced by a mould called Aspergillus Flavus. It may cause harm to the liver. It can even increase the risk of liver cancer and jaundice. Chemical treatment post-harvest helps in reducing aflatoxin content in groundnuts. 

Conclusion

Groundnuts are rich in calories, proteins, carbs, dietary fibre, and oil. Furthermore, groundnuts are oilseed crops with vast consumption worldwide. Groundnuts can be eaten raw, soaked, and roasted and find usage in multiple cuisines. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats help nourish the heart. They also reduce the risk of heart diseases and heart stroke. It also improves fertility in men and women, maintains blood sugar levels, and lowers bad LDL cholesterol.

Eating in moderation is the best way to reduce the chances of side effects and to provide your body with all its vital nutrients. Unfortunately, our body’s immune system sometimes considers groundnut protein as harmful. As a result, it can show adverse symptoms, leading to specific allergies. Consequently, this may lead to skin reactions, itching, runny nose, and hives. People having asthma, ulcers, joint diseases, allergies, and toddlers should avoid eating groundnuts without their doctor’s consent.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it good to eat groundnuts every day?

A. Yes, it is healthy to eat groundnuts every day. Consuming groundnuts daily has a lot of benefits like prevention of heart diseases, lowering bad cholesterol, reducing the chances of heart stroke, improving fertility, helping in weight loss, and improvement in brain health.

Q. What are the benefits of eating groundnuts?

A. Consuming groundnuts has many vital benefits. They are popularly known for preventing heart diseases. The surprising benefit is that they reduce the risk of death caused by heart strokes. They also lower bad cholesterol, improve fertility, boost brainpower, and help lose weight.

Q. How much groundnut Can I eat a day?

A. Consuming about 12-25 groundnuts every day will provide you with all its essential nutrients. 

Q. What are the side effects of groundnut?

A. Groundnuts may cause side effects like a rise in blood sugar levels, an increase in bad LDL cholesterol, allergies, unwanted weight gain, and an imbalance in omega fatty acids. Side effects occur when not taken care of several conditions while consuming them. Such as not consuming them in moderate quantities, eating fresh raw groundnuts, groundnuts stored in warm, high humid places for a long time, giving them to children, people having asthma, ulcers, joint diseases, and allergies.

Q. What is the difference between groundnuts and peanuts?

A. Groundnuts and peanuts are both types of oilseeds. However, peanuts themselves are a type of groundnut. Groundnuts refer to leguminous plants, which mature and ripen underground. Groundnuts also contain roots and tubers. Therefore, peanuts are a subset of the groundnut family. 

Q. Can diabetics eat groundnuts?

A. Groundnuts contain fantastic health benefits for people with diabetes. This nut helps in lowering bad cholesterol, blood sugar levels. Groundnuts are oilseeds rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They help nourish the heart. In addition, groundnuts have a low glycaemic index that indicates it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Q. Is groundnut bad for cholesterol?

A. Groundnuts contain healthy unsaturated fats that help control bad LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Although consuming a high quantity of groundnuts may cause an adverse effect by increasing bad LDL cholesterol levels.

Q. Is it good to eat raw groundnuts?

A. Yes, you can consume fresh and raw groundnuts. But raw groundnuts may be contaminated with a carcinogen called aflatoxin, produced by a mould called Aspergillus flavus, which may cause harm to the liver. So, it isn’t recommended to have raw groundnuts and increase the risk of getting sick. 

Q. Who should not eat groundnuts?

A. You should avoid giving groundnuts to little children, people having asthma, ulcers, joint diseases, and allergies. In addition, overconsumption for people with type 2 diabetes can cause a negative impact. Eating excessive groundnuts may also cause jaundice, especially raw groundnuts, as they contain a carcinogen, aflatoxin, which harms the liver.

Q. What happens when you eat too many groundnuts?

A. Excessive consumption of groundnuts can cause an increase in bad LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It may also cause weight gain, inhibit mineral absorption in the body, allergies, high blood pressure, contamination, and imbalance in omega3 fatty acids. 

Q. Do groundnuts increase sperm count?

A. Groundnuts contain a good amount of zinc which is significantly responsible for increasing sperm count, sperm quality, and sperm motility in men.

Q. Is groundnut good for fertility?

A. Consuming groundnuts can significantly increase fertility in both men and women. They are also a rich source of folate, fatty acids, and magnesium. These nutrients aid in regulating hormonal levels, boosting sperm production and maintaining a healthy uterus. 

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