Is Groundnut Oil Good For Health?
A healthy outside starts from inside
Today, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that our food choices, harmful ingredients, nutritional deficiencies, and lack of exercise contribute to the development of many chronic diseases.
We need a holistic approach to choosing the foods we eat, including the oils used for cooking. We need to keep an eye on labels to understand the source and production of oils. A healthy oil has a high smoking point and contains antioxidants and nuts.
It’s a tough call, but let’s help each other figure out which oils are healthy.
What Is Groundnut Oil?
Mahatma Gandhi once referred to peanuts as a poor man’s almonds, which is pretty much valid. Peanut plants grow above ground, but the seeds or peanuts develop underground, so peanuts are also known as groundnuts.
Peanuts are also known as earth nuts, monkey nuts, goober peas, and, in India, singdana. Peanuts are called nuts, but they are legumes like peas and beans. Peanut or groundnut oil is obtained from the seeds of the peanut plant.
Groundnut oil is a sweet oil with a nutty flavor. Food cooked in it is tastier, crispier, and more satiating. 1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16314877/, 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12119580/ India and China are the leading producers of groundnut oil, and it is widely used for cooking in America, India, China, and Southeast Asia.
Groundnut Oil Nutrition Facts
Oils are not a food group, but our bodies need fatty acids to function correctly. Certain fatty acids are essential, as per USDA recommendations. We do need to limit oil consumption to balance total calorie intake. Oils contain essential monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. 3https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/oils/oils-nutrients-health
Like all vegetable oils, groundnut oil’s calories come from fat. The fatty acid breakdown of groundnut oil is 20% saturated fat, 50% monounsaturated fat, and 30% polyunsaturated fat. 4https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171410/nutrients
Varieties Of Groundnut Oil
Variety and diversity in groundnut oil are mostly due to how it is processed.
Refined Groundnut Oil
This is called RBD-refined, bleached, and deodorized. Refined peanut oil is one of the oils most commonly used in major U.S. fast-food chains.
Cold-Pressed Groundnut Oil
This is forced out of peanuts by applying pressure. In olden times in India, a cylindrical mechanism known as ghani was used to extract oil. Cold-pressed oils retain their pure taste, nutritional value, and antioxidants.
Blended Groundnut Oil
This is an economical option produced by a straightforward method when two similar-tasting oils are mixed. Groundnut oil is generally blended with soybean oil for affordability.
Gourmet Groundnut Oil
This is a sophisticated flavored oil obtained by a mechanical pressing process. The flavor enhances the aroma and taste of food.
Groundnut Oil Health Benefits
High Vitamin E Content
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant found naturally in foods like nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. One tablespoon of peanut oil contains 11% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E. Vitamin E delays the oxidation process by eliminating free radicals.
It acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. 5https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/#:~:text=Vitamin%20E%20needs%20some%20fat,is%20a%20weakened%20immune%20system The antioxidative properties of vitamin E play an essential role in preventing heart disease, oxidative stress, cancer, cataracts, and Alzheimer’s disease. 6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997530/, 7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25591715/
May Improve Heart Health
We have enough evidence to suggest that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 8https://www.choosemyplate.gov/node/5679 A diet containing groundnut oil may improve one’s lipid profile by raising HDL and lowering LDL. 9https://bmcnutr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40795-016-0053-y
It Might Lower Blood Sugar & HbA1c
Good For Frying
Refined peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees F, perfect for frying food at high heat. Peanut oil has a unique quality in that it does not absorb flavors from foods that are fried in it. For this reason, it is a favorite oil in restaurants and large-scale food industries.
Medicinal Effect Of Groundnut Oil
In some parts of the world, peanut oil is applied to the skin for joint pain, dry skin, eczema, and other skin conditions. Some researchers suggest that vitamin E may improve skin conditions symptoms, but there is limited scientific evidence to support this. 12https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-483/peanut-oil
There is no doubt that peanut oil has benefits, but it is equally important to know about its disadvantages.
Groundnut Oil Downsides
High In Omega-6
Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. The most common omega-6 is linolenic acid. It is essential, as our body cannot synthesize it. Still, a healthy ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to pro-inflammatory omega-6 is crucial for our health. 13https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/
Studies indicate that a high intake of omega-6 might increase breast cancer risk in women and especially postmenopausal women. 14https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18636564/, 15https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12588084/ Another study suggested a link between a high intake of omega-6 and an increased risk of prostate cancer. 16https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17607361/
Groundnut Oil And Oxidation
Oxidation is a reaction between a substance and oxygen that causes free radicals and other harmful compounds to form. 17https://www.oilsfats.org.nz/documents/Oxidation%20101.pd This process commonly occurs in unsaturated fats, while saturated fats are more resistant to oxidation. Polyunsaturated fats are the most susceptible to oxidization due to their higher amount of unstable double bonds. 18https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118035/
Directly heating or exposing polyunsaturated fats to air, sunlight, or moisture can ignite this undesirable process. The high amount of polyunsaturated fats in peanut oil and its use as a high-heat oil makes it more prone to oxidation. 19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6100155
The free radicals generated by the oxidation of peanut oil can cause damage to the body. This damage may lead to premature aging, certain cancers, and heart disease. 20https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/, 21 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990475/, 22https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496685/ There are other, more stable oils and fats available on the market for high-heat cooking.
The Peanut Institute advises individuals with a peanut allergy not to consume cold-pressed or gourmet peanut oils. 23https://peanut-institute.com/nutrition-research/allergy/ Refined groundnut oil can be safe for people with peanut allergies because refining eliminates allergens. Still, it’s best for those with peanut allergies to avoid groundnut (peanut) oil. 24https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9133891/, 25https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28578104/
Hexane (a petroleum byproduct) is a solvent and cleaning agent applied in refining to extract oil from peanut kernels. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has classified hexane as a neurotoxin in rat studies. Excess hexane, as well as aflatoxin from moldy peanuts, can contaminate peanut oil.
Conclusion And My Recommendation
The essential fatty acids in peanut oil could make it healthy to use in cooking, but most of the peanut oil’s benefits need more validation from research.
What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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About Kamini Thakar
Kamini is a very skilled writer/content creator. As a part of Fabulous Body for years, she has authored many articles really proving her prowess in acquiring and presenting knowledge about various health & nutrition topics.