Peanut Nutrition Facts

Can Peanuts Help You Lose Weight?

peanuts nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Peanuts (scientific name Arachis hypogaea) is one of the most popular nuts consumed by Americans even though they are not actually true nuts. Unlike almonds, cashews, and walnuts which grow on trees, peanuts grow underground in pods. The term "hypogaea" is translated from the Latin for "under the earth." As such, peanuts are more closely related to legumes, such as peas and soybeans, than to tree nuts.

Despite delivering over 150 calories per serving, peanuts can be an excellent part of a healthy, weight-loss diet. They are low in carbs and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Not only can peanuts help control weight, but they may also be able to reduce your risk of heart disease and gallstones.

On the downside, peanut allergies have become increasingly common in the United States and may cause potentially life-threatening reactions in some, particularly children. 

Peanuts Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 oz (28 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 166 
Calories from Fat 126 
Total Fat 14.1g22%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.4g 
Monounsaturated Fat 7g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 230mg10%
Potassium 186.21mg5%
Carbohydrates 6.1g2%
Dietary Fiber 2.3g9%
Sugars 1.2g 
Protein 6.7g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2% · Iron 4%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Nutrition Facts

A serving of peanuts is equal to one ounce, or roughly 28 peanuts.

That same handful packs an impressive amount of nutrients and more "healthy" fats than "unhealthy" ones. 

Carbs in Peanuts

Ounce per ounce, peanuts are considered low in carbohydrate. The carbs in peanuts account for only 13 percent to 16 percent of their total weight, translating to a glycemic index (GI) of only 14.

What this means is that a serving of peanuts is less likely to affect your blood sugar than higher-GI foods like white bread (75 GI) or even a bowl of corn flakes (92 GI).

Most of the carbohydrates in peanuts are complex, the type that the body breaks down gradually to fuel metabolism. Only a tiny portion of the carbs is from simple carbohydrates, which the body burns quickly, causing fluctuations in blood sugar.

One serving of peanuts delivers 9 percent of the dietary fiber needed to promote digestive health and regulate the absorption of fat, sugar, minerals, and vitamin (especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K).

Fats in Peanuts

Although 14 grams of fat per serving of peanuts may seem like a lot, most are considered beneficial to your health. These include "healthy" monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that help fight inflammation. Only around 4 percent is from "unhealthy" saturated fat, the type that can clog your arteries.

The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are primarily from oleic acid (which positively affect cholesterol levels), while the polyunsaturated fats are predominantly from linoleic acid (which builds muscle mass and promotes body fat loss).

In terms of fat content, raw and dry-roasted peanuts are far healthier than oil-roasted, seasoned, or sugar-coated peanuts. Coatings, flavoring, and seasonings can sometimes triple the saturated fat content in peanuts.

Protein in Peanuts

Approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of peanut's total weight is from protein, making it one of the better non-meat proteins in the American diet. At 6.7 grams per serving, you can easily boost your intake with but a small handful of nuts, especially if you are vegan, vegetarian, or are simply nutritionally deprived. 

Micronutrients in Peanuts

Peanuts are nutrient-dense and can help you meet your reference daily intake (RDI) of vitamins and mineral as prescribed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.

They are packed with important B-complex vitamins as well as essential minerals and antioxidants. Here is how a 100 grams of peanuts contribute to the RDI of key nutrients: 

  • Calcium: 9% of the RDI
  • Copper: 127% of the RDI
  • Folate: 60% of the RDI
  • Iron: 57% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 42% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 84% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 54% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 13%of the RDI
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 53% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): 75% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 35% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 27% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 56% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 30% of the RDI

Unlike many tree nuts, peanuts offer nothing in the way of vitamin A or C. 

Health Benefits 

Beyond their nutritional value, peanuts contain certain nutrients that may help improve metabolism and aid in the prevention of certain diseases.

Weight Loss

It may be hard to think of peanuts as a "diet food" given that a single nut contains no less than 6 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. Eat 50 peanuts and you've set yourself back no less 300 calories and 25 grams of fat. Despite these numbers, there increasing evidence that eating peanuts can help maintain a healthy weight while reducing the risk of obesity. 

A seminal study from the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated the medical records of 51,118 women ages 24 to 45 and found that higher consumption of nuts corresponded to lower incidences of weight gain and obesity. In course of the 8-year follow-up, high nut consumption was associated with better weight control when compared to women who never ate nuts.

A similar finding was seen in children. According to 2013 research published in Nutrition Reseach, of the 262 sixth-grade students included in the study, those who ate peanuts were far less likely to be overweight or obese than those who avoided peanuts. Moreover, the children tended to have lower total cholesterol and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than their nut-free classmates. 

The current evidence suggests that peanuts aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller sooner (a condition known as satiation). Furthermore, if peanuts are now chewed well enough, many of the fats and calories will not be absorbed as the pieces move through the intestines undigested.

Heart Disease

Evidence regarding the benefits of peanuts in preventing heart disease is largely mixed. For their part, the FDA concluded in 2003 that eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day did nothing to reduce the risk of heart disease when included a part of a low-fat diet plan.

Many scientists disagreed, believing that certain antioxidants in peanuts, most especially resveratrol, exerts potent cardioprotective effects. 

According to a 2016 review of studies from Descartes University in Paris, resveratrol helps reduce cardiovascular inflammation and relax blood vessels, increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, increased resveratrol concentrations were associated with a decrease in LDL oxidation, the condition of which can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and coronary artery disease.

These anti-atherosclerotic properties, argue scientists, suggest that resveratrol-rich foods like peanuts have a key place in heart-healthy diets.

Gallstones

Peanuts exert beneficial effects on blood cholesterol level which, in turn, influence the development of gallstones. Gallstones are hardened lumps of fluid that develop inside the gallbladder, comprised many of undissolved cholesterol.

According to an eight-year prospective study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed 1 ounce (28.6 grams) of nuts per week had a 25 percent lesser risk of developing gallstones than women who ate less than 1 ounce per month. 

Common Questions 

How long can you store peanuts?

Unshelled peanuts stored in a cool, dry pantry should last for one to two months, while loose peanuts without shells can go bad within a few weeks. You can extend the shelf life of your peanut for up to two years by freezing them a temperature below 32o F (0C).

If buying tinned, sealed peanuts, try to consume them by no later than the "use-by" date (as opposed to the "sell-by" date). If kept beyond the expiration date, peanuts can go rancid and turn bad, even in sealed containers. Once the container is open,  keep the peanuts in the refrigerator to maintain their flavor and freshness.

How do I know if a peanut has gone bad?

You can tell a peanut is rancid if it either has a slightly fishy, moldy, or sour-milk smell. If the peanuts are shriveled, black, or have evidence of mold, toss them out. If unsure, you can take a bite; a rancid peanut will taste bitter or sour.

Moldy peanuts are especially problematic as they can produce a toxin known as aflatoxin. Eating rancid peanuts can lead to aflatoxin poisoning, a condition that can impair liver function and lead to jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, and liver damage. It has even been linked to liver cancer.

Recipes and Preparation

Peanuts can be eaten as a snack. Some people like steam unshelled peanut with sea salt water. Unshelled nuts can be warmed in the oven to enhance their flavor. A handful of peanuts go nicely with an apple or other sliced fruits. Peanuts are often used in cooking and can be found in stir-fries, curries, and vegetarian wraps as well as for toppings for ice cream and yogurt.

Peanuts are especially useful in people with protein deficiency or those trying to gain weight. By adding chopped peanuts to desserts, salads, sandwiches, and cereal, you can increase your caloric and protein intake without feeling full. 

If you are a peanut lover, here are some recipes you should definitely try:

Allergies and Interactions

Peanut allergies are one of the most common and potentially dangerous food allergies, affecting no less than 1 percent of the U.S population and 2 percent of children. Year on year, peanut allergy continue to be climbing, particularly among children previously unexposed to peanuts. 

Because of this, the FDA has instructed food manufacturers to prominently list peanuts—along with any of the 7 other common allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, and soybean)—on product labels. Some manufacturers may include wording like "may contain peanuts" if the product is produced in a facility that uses nuts in other food products. This can help you avoid hidden nuts if you are especially allergic.

Peanut allergies can range from mild to life-threatening. In rare instances, it can lead to an all-body reaction known as anaphylaxis, characterized by a severe rash or hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, rapid heart rate, the swelling of the face or throat, and a "feeling of impending doom." If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to shock, coma, heart or respiratory failure, and death.

Although many parents are terror-struck by the very notion of a peanut allergy, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) recommends that peanuts be introduced into a child's diet early—as early as four to six months—to sensitize them to peanuts and avoid the development of an allergy.

Drug Interactions

The resveratrol in peanuts can inhibit blood clotting if consumed in excess. This can amplify the side effects of blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), causing nosebleeds, easy bruising, abdominal pain, blood in the urine (hematuria), and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Resveratrol can potentially interact with other drugs, increasing their toxicity. These include:

  • Antihistamines used to treat allergy
  • Benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety and insomnia
  • Calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure
  • Erectile dysfunction drugs
  • HIV protease inhibitors used to treat HIV infection
  • Statins used to used to treat high cholesterol

Red wine, which also contains resveratrol, can further amplify this effect. Tell your doctor about any usual side effects you experience after eating peanuts, peanut butter, or red wine, especially if consumed in excess.

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