Peanut Oil Health Benefits and Side Effects
Peanut oil is a seed oil extracted from the peanut plant, named the Arachis hypogaea. Peanut oil is also known as groundnut oil or Arachis oil, it’s a popular vegetable oil often used for frying and cooking.
Like other healthy cooking oils, peanut oil is also used as a medical remedy and is widely used to treat many illnesses. It’s not commonly used in cooking in North American style dishes due to its flavor profile, it’s massive popularity and wide range of uses stem from Asia.
Asian cuisine typically uses high heats, and because refined peanut oil has a high smoke point it can tolerate most wok style dishes.
Although it’s widely favored in Asia and many African countries due to its nutty flavor being a good complement to their traditional foods.
Its low price point, availability, and relatively high smoke point make peanut oil a great choice for daily cooking, frying, and as a salad dressing.
Peanut oil’s omega fatty acid profile is 17% saturated fat, 32% polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-6), and 46% monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-9).
Because of its name, peanuts are usually thought of as a type of nut, but it’s a legume that belongs to the Arachis family.
The peanut plant flowers above while the peanuts seeds grow below ground, which is why it’s also known as groundnuts.
Despite its popularity, a peanut allergy is the world’s 3rd most common food allergy. But fortunately having one of the lowest death rates sitting at around 100 to 200 people yearly, worldwide.
There are a few different variations of peanut oil, ordered from healthiest to unhealthiest.
- Cold Pressed Peanut Oil: This method has the highest quality oil in terms of nutrition, benefits, and flavor. Cold pressing peanuts break it down into 2 parts, peanut protein and oil.
The peanut protein is the residue created after extraction. This makes it easier to separate the pure fat and retains almost all of its healthy polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats.
- Gourmet Peanut Oil: This variation is made using the same method, using the cold pressing process. The difference is that the peanuts are wok-fried or roasted before pressing, intensifying the nutty flavor.
This version is best used for cooking and frying foods, but because of the heating and frying of the peanut itself, it will cause the oil to lose some of its healthy fats.
- Refined Peanut Oil: The most common version found in supermarkets. As with all refined oils, peanuts go through a heating, bleaching, and deodorizing process to keep it shelf-stable for a long time.
This destroys the healthy polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Specifically monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fat, and linoleic acid.
Similarly to sunflower oil, peanut oil consumption is growing globally, China’s leading with around 3,000,000 Metric tons, followed by India at around 1,100,000 Metric tons. The United States sits at 7th globally at around 130,000 Metric tons.
The most common omega-9 fatty acid in peanut oil is oleic acid and the most common omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid. With palmitic acid being a small part of its saturated fat content.
Peanut Oil Health Benefits
Roasted peanut oil has a good balance between its saturated and unsaturated fats, making it a great option for reducing bad LDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease, and maintain blood sugar control.
There’s also a good amount of vitamin E, containing 11% of your recommended daily amount (RDA), as stated by the USDA’s dietary food guide.
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant and helps fight free radicals in your body. Peanut oil also increases insulin sensitivity which regulates your blood sugar levels and helps to make you feel less hungry.
This also helps in preventing heart disease risks such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, strokes, and risk of heart disease.
Vitamin E is also essential for the creation of red blood cells and preventing blood clots. One of the major health benefits of having peanut oil in your diet is that it can help boost your immune system’s strength.
Omega-6 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fat all increase the production of white blood cells to help fight off intruding bacteria and viruses.
For instance, if you have a light infection, such as a cold, taking in a few tablespoons of peanut oil or even plain all-natural peanut butter can help you fight the infection and can get you feeling much better sooner due to the healthy omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
Peanut oil is a great natural relief and remedy for many inflammatory complications, illnesses, and diseases such as:
- Joint pain
- Skin dryness disorders
1. Full of Healthy Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids
71% of peanut oil’s monounsaturated fat content is oleic acid (omega-9) which is also found in most other tree nuts.
Oleic acid has been found to reduce high blood pressure, defend cells from free radicals, and helps your body burn stored fats by increasing your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
The list of cooking oils that have high levels of oleic acid include:
- Fish oil
- Peanut oil
- Olive oil
- High oleic sunflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Avocado oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Palm oil
- Soybean oil
- High oleic acid canola oil
- Vegetable oil
Although peanut oil is great at regulating blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, we would not recommend having it be your main cooking oil if you’re diabetic, suffered from heart disease in the past or have any similar issues.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States and the leading cause of deaths worldwide, currently at around 610,000 per year in the U.S alone.
Having a consistent intake of high-quality unsaturated fats can reduce bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood, reducing your risk of heart disease.
2. Improves Overall Heart Health
Peanut oil is high in polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and healthy unsaturated fatty acids which are key nutrients for keeping good heart health.
Here’s a list of omega-3 fatty acid benefits that may impact your heart health:
- Reduces triglyceride levels in your blood
- Lowers overall blood pressure
- Reduces your risk of developing serious heart complications
- Reduces the buildup of plaque in your arteries caused by LDL cholesterol
A list of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and omega-6 fatty acid health benefits include:
- Regulating your blood sugar levels
- Reduces your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease
- Lowers your total blood pressure
- Improves fat oxidation which helps with weight loss.
3. Boosts Immune System Strength
The polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants are very effective against viral and fungal infections.
The polyunsaturated and saturated fats in peanut oil can stimulate the production of white blood cells which can help fend your body off against a variety of other viruses and diseases.
Most viral infections and diseases are caused by inflammation, such as hay fever, asthma, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), hepatitis, and cancer.
4. Improves Cognitive Functioning and Brain Health
Peanut oil has a high amount of resveratrol, which is the main source of its wide range of benefits, brain health, reduced risk of heart disease, and blood sugar control being a few.
Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidants, this helps reduce age-related cognitive decline and inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques around the brain.
The formation of plaques in the brain is the main trigger and effect of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Increases Insulin Sensitivity
Resveratrol has the effect of blocking the enzyme aldose reductase, which is what’s used to convert glucose into the sugar alcohol sorbitol.
If too much sorbitol gets built up in your blood, it starts to create oxidative stress in your cardiovascular system, this effect is amplified if you have a form of diabetes.
The antioxidant found in peanut oil counteracts and minimizes that damaging effect. This also has the secondary effect of also reducing inflammation.
The second contributing factor to the increased insulin sensitivity is peanut oil’s monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They help control blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream, slowing down the rise of your blood sugar.
Here’s the list of cooking oils and other ingredients that also increases insulin sensitivity:
- Cooking oils such as coconut oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, corn oil, wallnut oil, vegetable oil, palm oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil
- Teas such as earl grey tea, green tea, oolong tea, sage tea, black tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, and white tea
- Herbs and spices such as basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, ginseng, sage, garlic, cocoa powder (chocolate), cinnamon, spinach, salt and black pepper, mint, dill, fenugreek, thyme, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and chilli powder
This keeps a consistent blood sugar level throughout the day without the energy spike and crash. Substituting saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your diet drastically improves insulin activity.
Insulin helps cells absorb glucose slowly and more efficiently. This helps avoid your blood sugar from getting too high, too quick.
Peanut Oil Side Effects
1. Peanut Oil Has Too Many Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The main side effect of consuming too much peanut oil is that there’s a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids found in its fat composition, which can have its own set of problems.
While omega-6s are key to good heart health and proper bodily functions, it has become abundantly available in many foods we consume daily.
Too much of a good thing can be harmful to you and consuming too many omega-6 fats leads to heart complications instead.
Many studies show how omega-6s in high dosages can increase cardiovascular inflammation. Consuming omega-6 fats in small enough levels reduces inflammation.
It should be made clear that a moderate intake helps reduce inflammation while over-consuming causes the reverse effect of actively promoting inflammation.
Since most western diets consist of a lot of corn, vegetable, and seed oils found in every supermarket, not including processed foods at most restaurants, the average person consumes way too much omega-6s.
If your diet consists of high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and bad cholesterol, it’s best to stay away from peanut oil.
2. Can Easily Go Rancid
Due to peanut oil being on the higher end of vegetable oils that have loads of unsaturated fats, it’s easily prone to hydrogenation. That’s the process of having the oil go rancid paired with the creation of free radicals.
Unsaturated fats are more prone to being damaged because of the unstable chemical bonds that compose the molecule itself.
If you plan on using peanut oil regularly, you should take the best measures for preserving your sensative cooking oils. This helps drastically extend the shelf life of your cooking oils.
Avoid light, heat, and oxygen until the time of cooking. Since peanut oil has a lot of oleic acids and has a good amount of Vitamin E in its nutritional profile, it fights present free radicals in the body very effectively.
But you don’t want to create a double-edged sword where your cooking oil becomes hydrogenated, in turn destroying any health benefits that prevented that damage in the first place.
Peanut oil’s growth in popularity made it so that it’s now used in many other types of dishes, other than in Asian cuisine.
Vitamin E has many powerful antioxidants that increase your cardiovascular system’s health, nervous system health, heart health, and immune system strength.
The chemical composition of peanut oil makes it a good option for cooking over higher heats, compared to other cooking oils such as olive oil which go rancid above medium heat.
Refined peanut oil’s smoking point is 232°C (450°F) and unrefined peanut oil’s smoking point is 160°C (320°F) and can be cooked with over medium heat, not exceeding medium-high.
These health benefits and side effects are amplified in people who have diabetes, which is a huge bonus. Additionally, some people may be allergic to peanuts which would make them unable to also consume any nut oils.
The main reason for peanut oil’s large list of health benefits stems from its healthy fats. However, it contains too many monounsaturated fats and not enough omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids.
Peanut oil has an amazing variety of healthy unsaturated fats and contains all types of omega fatty acids (although not enough omega-3s and omega-9s).
Here’s the full list of the health benefits of peanut oil:
- Full of Healthy Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids
- Improves Overall Heart Health
- Boosts Immune System Strength
- Improves Cognitive Functioning and Brain Health
- Increases Insulin Sensitivity
Here’s the list of side effects of peanut oil:
- Has too many omega-6 fatty acids
- Peanut oil can easily oxidize and go rancid
The worst part about peanut oil’s nutritional data is that it includes too many omega-6s and too many unsaturated fats.
This makes it so the oil can easily go rancid and develop free radicals, which can cause a plethora of medical issues, diseases, and cancers.
If these levels of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can improve your diet, then it’s a good choice.
The health benefits of peanut oil outweigh its side effects, but always take precautious measures when storing and cooking with peanut oil since it’s a sensitive oil when it comes to hydrogenation, oxidation, and rancidity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Peanut Oil and How Is It Made?
What’s peanut oil? It’s the fat that comes from pressing peanuts; peanuts are seeds that come from the peanut plant, also known as Arachis Hypogaea.
Peanut seeds are very fatty by nature and don’t need much processing to be turned into pure peanut oil or peanut butter.
Peanuts are then pressed and inserted into a centrifuge to extract and separate the fats from the husk.
How is peanut oil made?
Peanut oil is a vegetable oil that’s made by using hulled peanut seeds. They’re gathered and later pressed or crushed into a paste.
Later put into a centrifuge to separate the oil from the proteins. This leaves you with pure liquid oil and a dry peanut butter-like residue.
Is Peanut Oil Healthy?
Peanut oil is very heart-healthy, in moderation. The fatty acid profile is balanced. Per 100g of peanut oil, there’s 17g of saturated fats, 32g of polyunsaturated fats, and 46g of monounsaturated fats.
There are huge amounts of omega 3-6-9 fatty acids found in peanut oil, all of which help reduce inflammation, risks of heart disease, and burn fat because of the high amounts of oleic acid.
Heart disease is the main cause of death in the United States and worldwide. All of these healthy fats help improve your heart health. The omega fatty acids help reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and reduce triglyceride levels in your blood.
On top of that, it has a good amount of Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. This prevents free radicals and can help fight viruses as well as infections.
It also boosts your cognitive health and function, immune system strength, and insulin sensitivity.
Is Peanut Oil Bad For You?
Peanut oil can be bad for you in specific circumstances. If you don’t store your oil safely, have too many omega-6 fats in your diet, and most commonly, peanut allergies.
If you don’t store it safely, it’ll go rancid and start creating free radicals at a fast rate. This can cause oxidative stress on your body and eventually cause damage to your heart.
These harmful compounds can cause heart disease and other cardiovascular complications. Storing any oil properly can help avoid these negative effects by keeping it in a cool, dark, and sealed environment.
If you eat too many omega-6 fatty acids, it’ll start to cause serious side effects like internal inflammation, digestive issues, and in extreme cases heart disease.
Just like oxidative damage, too many omega-6s can cause heart health issues. Especially by promoting inflammation, swelling, and heart muscle tearing in extreme cases.
If you have any peanut allergies, it must be avoided entirely as there are no alternatives or workarounds.
Does Peanut Oil Go Bad?
Peanut oil can go bad very easily. The high amounts of monounsaturated fats make it so that any exposure to light, oxygen, or heat can instantly cause the oil to go bad.
Most oils high in monounsaturated fats can’t handle oxidization and heat well, such as olive oil and safflower oil. They’re much more sensitive to heat, oxygen and light, which requires extra maintenance to make sure you’re not causing serious damage to you or your cooking oil.
Articles and Sources
9. Food Nutr Res. (2014 July 10) Effect of the amount and type of dietary fat on cardiometabolic risk factors and risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer: a systematic review