Call it peanut, groundnut or a monkey nut, these small, oval shaped nuts were perhaps one of the first few domesticated grain legumes by the mankind. Not so long ago, these seeds or legumes, that are crunchy, flavourful and aromatic to the taste- thanks to its high oil content were a staple ingredient in Indian kitchens. While ground nut oil was a regular for seasoning various recipes and even for deep frying, these pale, pink coloured legumes served as an ideal mid-day snack option.

With westernization of Indian cuisine, groundnut oil has slowly vanished from our kitchens mostly owing to various theories on how its consumption can lead to cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. However, things have changed in the last few years with cold pressed, traditional oils making a comeback in to Indian kitchens, with more and more celebrity dieticians, nutritionists vouching by its good fats, vitamin and mineral components. Also Read: 5 Health Reasons Why You Should Snack On Peanuts

And now, please welcome, groundnuts and groundnut oil back into our kitchens and diet plans, with a thunderous round of applause!

Referred as Moongphali in Hindi, Verkadalai in Tamil, Verusenagapappu in Telugu, cinabadama in Bengali and as Arachis hypogaea botanically, groundnuts are in fact a hybrid between two wild species Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis. Botanists believe that the initial hybrid would have been sterile, and a spontaneous chromosome doubling helped in restoring its fertility.

groundnut flower

A native to South America and introduced to other tropical countries many centuries ago, peanuts though classified as a nut, are actually not ‘true nuts’ as it belongs to the family of legumes like soy, beans and lentils.

In India, groundnut plant is grown in many tropical states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. An erect, shrubby plant sporting high to short branches, it adds nitrogen to the soil aided by nitrogen-fixing bacteria, making it a soil-enriching crop. As it improves the fertility of the soil, groundnut is the first choice of crop for the farming community in our country, for ‘crop-rotation’ a process in which different types of crops are grown and harvested in the same area, in various seasons.

The stems of peanut plant bear compound leaves with two pairs of leaflets and flowers look golden yellow in colour with about 10 mm in length. Groundnuts, that ripen underground are developed through self-pollination into ovaries, take shape in oblong peanut pods, with rounded ends. Each pod would contain two to three seeds covered in a thin, brownish or whitish shell. The maturity of these pods depends upon the amount of calcium and other nutrients available in the soil. 

The groundnuts that are available raw, boiled, soaked or roasted boast quite an impressive nutritional profile matching other tree nuts like almonds and walnuts, in taste, vitamins, protein and good fats. 

Peanuts contain 13 different vitamins including A, B, C and E groups, 26 essential minerals like iron and calcium, zinc and boron. Low on salt, groundnuts also act as natural hunger suppressants as it is loaded with good fats.

Nutrition

Groundnuts are abundant in protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre. Groundnuts are immensely rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins which offers you with a host of health benefits. Groundnuts are a great blend of healthy fats, protein and fibre that curbs your appetite, lowers the risk of heart disease and regulates blood glucose levels.

Groundnut Nutrition Per 100 grams

Calories 567 kcal

Total Carbohydrate 16 g     

Dietary fiber 9 g

Sugar 4 g  

Protein 26 g       

Total Fat 49 g    

Saturated fat 7 g         

Polyunsaturated fat 16 g    

Monounsaturated fat 24 g 

Cholesterol 0 mg        

Sodium 18 mg   

Potassium 705 mg

Vitamin B1 0.9mg

Vitamin B2 0.2mg

Niacin 17.6mg

Vitamin B6 0.5mg

Folate 350mcg

Calcium 134mg

Iron 6.7mg

Magnesium 245 mg

Phosphorus 549

*Source as per USDA

groundnut benefits

Groundnuts in Ayurveda:

Referred as Kalaya in ancient Ayurveda, peanuts found mention in the ayurvedic texts around 14th century for its ability to balance, heal and treat those health conditions caused due to kapha and pitta doshas. The traditional medicine practitioners recommend peanuts for battling skin and hair conditions, memory loss, diabetes, weight loss and more.

Controls Diabetes:

Groundnuts are an ideal snack for the diabetics as it aids in lowering blood sugars. Grab a fistful of roasted peanuts to control hunger pangs and also to prevent sudden spike in the levels of blood sugars. Studies reveal that peanuts are loaded with 21% of manganese for every 100 grams which plays a major role in absorption of calcium, regulation of blood sugar.

Prevents Cancer:

Peanuts are a rich source of beta-sitosterol, which aids in prevention of tumors in the body. It obstructs the growth of tumors, especially in the case of cervical and breast cancers. Researchers reveal that eating peanuts at least thrice in a week, in any form be it boiled, soaked, fried reduces the risk of cancer by 58% in both men and women.

Boosts Memory:

Groundnuts improve functioning of the brain, thanks to its ample amounts of Vitamin B3 and niacin. Loaded with flavonoids, these yummy nuts stimulate the functioning of brain by increasing the blood flow to the brain.

Stops Hair Loss:

These tiny, wonder nuts are a good source of Vitamin C, that help in boosting immunity and arrest hair fall. Regular intake of peanuts increases the production of collagen, strengthen hair follicles, prevent baldness and contribute to the hair growth. 

Helps Lose Weight:

Peanuts are a good mix of protein, fat and fibre to improve gut health and can keep you satiated for longer hours. These nuts provide instant energy, increase metabolic activity and prevent overeating. Don’t like raw or roasted peanuts? Grab a groundnut chikki bar made with jaggery to address those mid-day hunger pangs.

peanuts for weight loss

Child’s Growth:

Pack few roasted or boiled peanuts in the snack box of your child, for healthy bones and muscles. A rich source of protein, groundnuts help in digestion, boost metabolic activity, contribute to building muscles and stronger bones.

Skin Glow:

Regular consumption of groundnuts provides a vibrant glow to the skin. The healthy monosaturated fat resveratrol present in these legumes prevents excess production of sebum oil and breakouts of acne and pimples. The presence of vitamin E and vitamin C aid in the prevention of fine lines, wrinkles and avoid signs of aging.

Is Groundnut Bad For Heart?

If there is one popular belief when it comes to groundnut, that has been doing rounds among the food lovers, dieticians, doctors and healthy eaters is that ‘eating peanuts or groundnut oil is bad for your heart,’ as they increase the levels of bad cholesterol, ultimately clogging the arteries. This popular health statement that was introduced, endorsed and marketed by few western companies in mid 1980s caught the attention of Indians in no time. It is no exaggeration to say that ground nut oil, ground nut chutneys and even sweets made of these legumes disappeared from Indian cuisine completely, in the last 3 decades.

But what is the fact? Does regular intake of groundnuts or dishes made of groundnut oil, cause intense harm to your cardiovascular health? Read on.

It is true that groundnuts are high on fat, but it is all 100% cholesterol-free. In other words, these legumes are loaded with monosaturated fats – a type of fat that can effectively lower LDL or bad cholesterol. The US Food And Drug Administration revealed that according to their study, eating 30 grams of peanuts daily, for five days in a week cuts down the risk of heart diseases by 25 per cent. Also Checkout: 5 Incredible Nuts To Boost Your Heart Health- Infographic

Being a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and antioxidants like oleic acid, polyphenolic, regular intake of peanuts promotes healthy lipid profile, prevents clogging of arteries and reduces the risk of stroke. It is in fact an alternate food source of protein for vegetarians.

Groundnut Oil Vs Sunflower Oil?

Many mindful eaters argue if one should be using groundnut oil or sunflower oil for seasoning the dishes or even for deep frying. While groundnut oil has been a traditional cooking oil for centuries in Indian cuisine, sunflower oil gained ground only in the last few decades.

While refined sunflower oils have become quite a staple these days, cold pressed groundnut oil is back on the shelves. The only problem with groundnut oil is that it would froth on heating. To stop it, add a ball of dry tamarind to the oil for the froth to settle down.

Both groundnut and sunflower oil, possess good qualities and offer various benefits to the health.

Groundnut oil

Nutritional Values:

Groundnut Oil:

Groundnut oil contains iron, magnesium, copper, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, potassium, zinc and calcium.

Sunflower Oil:

Sunflower oil contains magnesium, phosphorous, copper, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, iron, zinc, calcium, copper and potassium.

Fat Content:

Groundnut oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. It is also ample in omega-6 fatty acids, that boost metabolism and nervous system.

Sunflower oil has good amounts of polysaturated fats, which play a crucial role in maintaining heart health.

Health Benefits:

Include groundnut oil in your daily diet to improve memory, lower the levels of LDL cholesterol, prevent various types of cancer, reduce weight, fight depression and maintain blood sugar levels.

Sunflower oil consumption helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases, asthma, inflammation, aids in gut health and digestion. Also Read: Cooking Oils: How To Choose The Right One

What Is Cold-Pressed Groundnut Oil?

Cold pressed oils are back in vogue. Cold pressed groundnut oil usually priced at Rs 250 in many regions in India is extracted through traditional methods.

Known as Kachi Ghani Tel in Hindi, Marachekka Nune in Telugu and Marachekku Ennai in Tamil, this oil oozes great flavour and adds extra taste to the dishes.

How Is It Extracted?

Cold pressed oil is extracted by crushing the peanuts and expelling the oil out. The wooden machines come in different sizes from small sizes to domestic purpose and in bigger size for commercial purpose. The peanuts get placed in a hole, in the middle of the machine with a rotating screw. The rotating screw crushes the groundnuts completely till the oil is extracted and that gets collected into a container attached under the machine.

The oil doesn’t get heated up in the process, hence there is no damage for its nutrition.

Benefits Of Cold Pressed Oil:

Good Source Of Vitamin E:

A teaspoon of cold pressed groundnut oil contains 11 per cent of vitamin E. The fat-soluble compounds present in the oil play the role of antioxidants by safeguarding the body from the damage caused due to free radicals. It also prevents risk of cataracts and provides good vision.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity:

Doctors recommend including cold pressed groundnut in the daily diet as evidence reveals that the good amount of polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, present in the oil, aid in better control of blood sugars. It also slows down the absorption of sugars in to the digestive tract and avert sudden spike in sugars. Polyunsaturated fats stimulate insulin secretion in the pancreas.

Aids In Growth And Development:

Omega – 6 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fats contributes towards body’s development, muscle buildup and stronger bones. Regular intake of cold pressed oil helps in reducing inflammation and boosts brain function.

How To Cook With Cold Pressed Oil?

Though rich in flavours, cooking with cold pressed oil could be cumbersome for few. The oil tends to froth on heating up and may not react well to the heat. Since, the oil is a good source of unsaturated fats, heating up might bring down its nutritional content. Use this oil for sautéing vegetables, stir fry or for a tadka. Also Read: Go For Cold Pressed Oils For Amazing Health Benefits

Groundnut For Keto?

There are quite number of fad diets out there and Keto is undoubtedly the popular one today. Strongly recommended for kids with epilepsy, Keto diet also caught the fancy of those with health conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), heart disease, diabetics besides weight loss.

Many wonder if they should be including groundnuts in the keto, as nuts and seeds are accepted as a part of the diet plan.  However, groundnuts are not ‘nuts’ technically, but legumes. While other nuts are high on Omega – 3 fatty acids, peanuts are ample source of Omega-6 fatty acids.

Expert nutritionists suggest including groundnuts in moderate amounts, if you are on keto diet. Being a great source of folate, it improves brain function. The high amounts of protein in groundnuts can keep you satiated for longer hours and avoid mid-day hunger pangs.

If you are on keto, limit your peanut intake to 30 grams a day, per serving. Another common question that would arise, is peanut butter a part of keto diet?

The good news is that peanut butter is a healthy option for those on this diet regimen but however, read labels carefully to learn about added additives, sugars. Avoid those peanut butters that come with added carbohydrates.

Groundnut Recipes:

Groundnuts are our staple grab-on-go snack and it is one of those ingredients that can be transformed into yummy recipes in a jiffy. Sweets and savouries made of groundnuts are quite popular in India and even abroad. Groundnut chikki, chutney that goes well with idli, dosa and other South Indian dishes, protein loaded peanut curry, peanut podi are few must-have dishes for Indians. These tiny globules rich in flavour also added good crunch to upma, pulihora, poha and many rice-based dishes. Also Read: Try These Super Healthy Recipes Using Dry Fruit, Nuts

For many of us, biting in to delectable groundnut chikki made from jaggery is a fond childhood memory. Masala peanuts come in handy, on a rainy evening to go well with piping hot chai. We bring you easy-to-make, groundnut recipes that can serve as your child’s snack box option or kill your boredom hunger on a lazy day.

Groundnut Chikki:

Groundnut chikki

Ingredients:

200 grams peanuts

100 grams jaggery powder, tightly packed

2 tbsp water

1 tsp ghee

Method:

Dry roast peanuts in heavy bottomed pan, till they become crunchy

Let it cool and remove the husk

In a heavy bottomed pan, add jaggery powder and little bit of water

Allow it to melt. Strain out impurities, if any

Add little bit of water and check consistency.

The jaggery syrup must reach a hard ball shape and firm

Add peanuts and give a quick stir

Meanwhile, grease a plate with ghee

Pour the mixture on the greased plate and gently roll out with a roller pin evenly

Take a knife and cut it into pieces. Allow it to cool

Once it reaches room temperature, break it and store it in an air tight container

This can be stored for one week

Nutrition:

Groundnuts are a good source of good fats, protein and 13 different vitamins and 26 trace minerals. Jaggery is a superfood among natural sweeteners and it contains around 11 per cent of iron for every 100 grams and helps in preventing anemia. Studies reveal that regular intake of jaggery also aids in detoxifying the liver. Ghee is a powerhouse of nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. It is also a rich source of omega – 3 and omega- 9 fatty acids.

Masala Peanuts:

Masala Peanuts

Ingredients:

200 grams besan or gram flour

250 grams roasted and skinned peanuts

2 tbsp corn flour

2 tbsp rice flour

¼ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp ginger, garlic paste

3 tbsp water

½ tsp chat masala

Oil for deep frying

Salt to taste

Method:

In a mixing bowl, take gram flour, corn flour and rice flour. Mix well.

Add chilli powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste and salt

Add peanuts and mix thoroughly. Add a little bit of oil and water to make the masala coat well to the peanuts.

If the peanuts are sticky, add a little bit of rice flour to get it separated

In a heavy bottom kadai, pour oil for deep frying. Gently drop these masala coated peanuts and fry till it turns crisp

Place fried masala peanuts on a kitchen towel to absorb extra oil

Sprinkle chat masala powder before serving to enhance the flavour

Nutrition:

Gram flour is an ample source of protein, fats and carbohydrates. It in fact has good amounts of thiamine, folate and iron. Corn flour provides fibre in required amounts besides protein. Ginger and garlic paste aids in digestion and prevents gas formation. The spices added in this recipe like chilli powder, turmeric, chat masala not only enhance the flavour but also provide necessary nutrition to the body and avoid untimely hunger pangs.

Conclusion:

Groundnuts or peanuts are a rich source of protein, good fats and 100 per cent cholesterol free. It is one of the popular cold pressed cooking oils in India and has been a staple in Indian cuisine for many centuries. One of the cash rich crops that contributes greatly to our country’s economy, groundnut can be consumed in raw, soaked, fried, roasted format and is incorporated into various dishes. Contrary to the popular belief that groundnuts are harmful to the heart, many doctors are now encouraging to include it in your daily diet. However, like in the case of all ingredients, eat it in moderation to reap all its benefits.