Today we are going to focus on a food that is commonly eaten but often the subject of much discussion.
Some people say they are healthy, others say they make you fat. Groundnuts are healthy foods with lots of beneficial nutrients for our health. They should be a part of our diet.
However, here are 10 things about groundnuts you need to know.
I hope this information will help you to understand them better.
1. The type of groundnuts we commonly eat are also known as peanuts. So, peanuts are actually a form of groundnuts. Whenever you see the term peanut, it basically refers to groundnuts
2. Groundnuts are technically legumes and not nuts. Legumes are edible seeds of plants that grow in pods. These pods are usually split open in half to release the seeds. Legumes include foods like beans, peas and even peanuts. Groundnuts are therefore legumes and not nuts. They grow underground, unlike other tree nuts that grow above ground like almonds and cashew nuts.
3. Groundnuts do not have cholesterol. Many people believe that groundnuts are high in cholesterol. While they are high in fat, they do not contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is only found in animal foods because it is only made by animals. So, let know one scare you off groundnuts because of cholesterol.
4. Groundnuts do not make you fat and do not make you gain weight. Many people believe that fat in food makes people fat. This is because of the word fat. But this is not true. Fat in food actually helps people to stay satisfied longer. People who eat groundnuts and other nuts have actually been shown in studies to have less weight gain than those who don’t. Groundnuts have fiber as well and fat that help with weight loss when eaten in moderate amounts.
5. We should not eat too much groundnuts. When we eat more nuts than we need to, the unnecessary extra fat you get will not be useful to you. Any food that is eaten in excess, however healthy can lead to either weight gain or even at times can lead to other unwanted effects. Legume and groundnut consumption should only make up 10 to 25% of our diet. Not more. And not all this should come from groundnuts. We should have other legumes as well. Also, note that we should eat other nuts in our diet especially when snacking. Instead of groundnuts, occasionally look for other
nuts like cashews, walnuts, pistachios, almonds etc.
6. The oil produced from groundnuts tends to have some unhealthy properties. Peanut oil can have some healthy ingredients such as vitamin E and good mono-unsaturated fats. But it is often very high in omega 6 fatty acids. These omega 6 fats are inflammatory and increase the risk for inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, obesity, digestive inflammation and even cancer. And because of this, the harmful effects of this oil outweigh any health benefits it may have.
7. The paste or butter from peanuts can be a good food to eat provided it is made without refining and processing the peanuts or groundnuts. Groundnut paste or peanut butter when homemade is a good substance to use as a spread on your healthy bread or for cooking.
However, many of the commercial peanut butter products are high in trans fats (a very dangerous fat) that has been banned in some countries. When buying peanut butter always check the ingredient label and if you see any of the following terms, ‘transfat’, ‘hydrogenated fat’ or ‘partially hydrogenated fat’, please do not buy it.
8. When you eat roasted groundnuts, avoid eating them if they get burnt or charred. Charring is the black substance that appears on food after roasting, grilling or high heat cooking. The charred material contains chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are known to cause cancer. Avoid charred foods as much as you can. Rather, eat lightly roasted nuts and sometimes eat raw nuts.
9. Peanuts and groundnuts can cause allergies in some people especially children. This allergy can be lethal. It is, therefore, best to avoid introducing peanuts or groundnuts into children’s diets until they are older. But groundnuts can also cause food sensitivities.
Sensitivity is not an allergy but can cause symptoms such as gas, bloating and heartburn. If you experience any of these after eating groundnuts it may be a sign that you are sensitive to them and need to avoid them. Don’t ignore this, it could save you from ulcers, and more serious gut problems in the future.
10. Groundnuts can be affected by a fungus called Aflatoxin that can cause serious liver problems. Groundnuts that are stored in hot, wet and stuffy environments with a little aeration easily get infected with this fungus. Fungi love hot, humid and low oxygen areas. If you ever go to buy groundnuts and they are wet, wrinkled, or seem to have mould, do not buy them.
Aim to buy groundnuts that have been recently removed from the pod or are still in the pod. These are the safest groundnuts. Please note that aflatoxin contamination is actually a serious problem in warm
climates like Uganda and the whole East African region. And because of this risk, let us be careful with groundnuts look for other foods like other legumes and other nuts as alternatives to groundnuts.
So, these little but very popular foods called groundnuts have a quite a bit to offer your health and are a good food to have in your diet, but we should all realize that often there is a need to exercise caution when consuming these foods.
Always consider your unique situation and take necessary precaution.