Peanut oil is a type of vegetable oil that is obtained from peanuts or ground nuts. Peanut oil is one of the healthiest oils that can be incorporated into everyone's kitchen. The use of peanut oil for cooking is done in many Asian countries. Peanut oil is available in many varieties with each variety having its own flavor and aroma. Peanut oil can broadly be classified into:
- Refined peanut oil: Peanut oil is processed to refine it, bleach and deodorize to get refined peanut oil. The processing of peanut oil removes all allergic components of the oil making it safe to consume.
- Gourmet peanut oil: Gourmet peanut oil is not refined and retains most of the nutritional components. This peanut oil has great aroma and flavor and is the most widely available variety of peanut oil.
- 100% pure peanut oil: This type of peanut oil is not processed or refined and retains all its initial components. The use of pure peanut oil is not generally recommended because it may contain allergic components.
Peanut oil can be used for cooking purposes. This oil can be a great cooking medium, especially for frying, roasting and baking. The following are the reasons why peanut oil can be used for cooking purposes:
- Peanut oil has a great aroma and a nutty flavor that enhances the flavor of the food cooked.
- Peanut oil does not absorb the flavor of other foods that are cooked in this oil. Thus, dished cooked in peanut oil can retain their flavor.
- Peanut oil when heated reaches a very high temperature. This keeps the outside of the food crisp and inside moist and provides a great flavor to one who eats.
Apart from this, this yellow colored oil with a rich and nutty flavor and a great aroma is also a preferred medium of cooking because of its nutritional value and its various health benefits. Peanut oil when refined loses all its allergic components as well as impurities and so is safe to consume. Peanut oil is very high in energy and has a long shelf life. Peanut oil also has a very healthy lipid profile. It contains saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono- unsaturated fats in a very healthy proportion.
Health benefits of peanut oil
- Reduces cholesterol levels: Peanut oil contains plant sterols and is free from cholesterol content. It can thus help to lower the cholesterol levels in the blood and also promote healthy cholesterol.
- Promotes heart health: Since peanut oil is free from cholesterol, it promotes cardiovascular health by preventing the clogging of arteries. Peanut oil also contains mono- unsaturated acids like oleic acid that increase the level of good cholesterol and lower the bad cholesterol and thus prevent from various heart diseases.
- Prevents cancer: Peanut oil contains resveratrol which is a polyphenol anti- oxidant. Resveratrol eliminated free radicals which are responsible for diseases like cancer. Thus peanut oil helps in the prevention of cancer due to the presence of this antioxidant.
- Decreases blood pressure: Resveratrol neutralizes the affect of hormones that constrict blood vessels and arteries and thus helps to reduce blood pressure. This further promotes cardiovascular health.
- Boosts memory: Peanut oil is rich in antioxidants that eliminate or slow down memory degeneration. Thus peanut oil prevents from Alzheimer's disease and also problems like dementia.
- Improves skin health: Peanut oil is a rich source of vitamin E. This vitamin acts on the free radicals that cause wrinkles, blemishes, premature aging and other skin disorders. Thus peanut oil helps to keep the skin young and healthy.
- Boosts the immune system: Peanut oil is rich in antioxidants that stimulate the production of white blood cells that protect the body against viral and fungal infections. This in turn boosts the immune system and improves the overall health.
A word of precaution
People who are allergic to peanut must not consume peanut oil and use it as a cooking medium. If s person with peanut allergy does take peanut oil, there can be several adverse health effects and healthcare may be needed immediately. Though most of the fatty acids in peanut oil are beneficial, yet they are fats and contain many calories. So, it is recommended to use peanut oil in limited quantities else it may lead to conditions like obesity.