So here goes the one dollar question: “Can you eat raw peanuts?” This is probably one of the most common question among peanut lovers like me. I wasn’t very sure myself after listening to the divided answers of my friends, which is mainly why I have decided to look into it more seriously to finally clarify this question for my fellow peanut lovers out there.
The good news is, yes, you can eat raw peanuts because they’re not toxic. However, they’re commonly associated with aflatoxin, a carcinogen arising from the contamination of molds, when the peanuts are not dried properly.
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A Short Introduction to Raw Peanuts
To set the record straight, peanuts are not nuts, but legumes that are associated with chickpeas and beans. They originated from South America and played a significant part in the diet of Native Indians. Right now, the leading providers of peanuts are the United States, China, and India.
Interestingly, peanuts start out as a ground flower with a tendency to bend towards the ground as it gets heavier. The peanut then matures into a new flower as it digs out underground. Usually, its brown shell comprises about 2-3 peanut kernels inside.
The Benefits of Raw Peanuts
If you’re attempting to start a healthy diet, then you should consider eating raw peanuts because of their wide array of health benefits. Here are some of the benefits that you can get from them.
Reduce the risk of heart disease
According to the Peanut Institute, eating peanuts frequently may reduce the risk of heart diseases. Eating a handful of raw peanuts 5-6 times a week may lower the risk of heart diseases by about 50%.
You may cut the risk of heart diseases by about 24% if you eat peanuts twice a week. All this is possible because the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your body.
May decrease the risk of cancer
Stop Cancer Fund recommends the consumption of half a handful of peanuts daily to fight several cancer cases like breast cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
A 2010 study also shows a possible association of ovarian cancer and peanuts. They discovered that peanuts and other foods high in fiber may help sedate the growth of tumors that are less harmful and more likely to occur in young girls.
Such cancer prevention ability is possible because peanuts contain anti-cancer compounds: phytosterols and resveratrol.Phytosterols are known to lower bad cholesterol and inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells. Resveratrol also shows off abilities in cutting off blood supply to developing cancer cells and preventing the growth of more cancer cells.
Aid in preventing gallstone disease
In a 2004 study published in American Journal of Epidemiology, results show that those who eat a handful of peanuts at least 5 times a week seemingly have cut their risk of getting gallstone diseases by about 30%. Gallstone diseases results from having too much cholesterol in your bile.
Peanuts are popular in generating positive results on cholesterol. They lower bad cholesterol which can accumulate in your bile, hence decreasing the risk of gallstone diseases.
- Free from additives
As compared to salted roasted peanuts, raw peanuts contain less sodium which can be good for your health. Raw peanuts contain no added sugars and trans fats as compared to peanut butter, which may be made from hydrogenated oils. As a result, you can eat raw peanuts as a snack without any guilt.
- Less likely to trigger allergies
In comparison to roast peanuts, raw peanuts are less likely to stimulate peanut allergies. In a study conducted by Oxford University, samples derived from those who have eaten roasted peanuts showed harsher effects of peanut allergies than those who have eaten raw peanuts. Such strong allergic reactions can be prompted by the chemical changes undergone during the heating process of roasted peanuts.
Aflatoxin: The Potential Danger of Raw Peanuts
Eating raw peanuts in moderation is good for your health. However, you make yourself more susceptible to aflatoxin, a carcinogen which is produced by a mold known as Aspergillus flavus.
Aflatoxin mainly affects the liver. Longer exposure can even lead to liver cancer, hepatitis, and can even hinder normal growth in children.
Although this could be a bit alarming, the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) has done measures to mitigate this problem. It implemented a regulation that allows 20 parts per billion as the maximum limit of aflatoxin to be found in all foods, including peanut products.
Choosing and Storing Raw Peanuts Safely
In choosing raw peanuts with the best quality, you may follow these following tips.
You can find shelled peanuts in prepackaged containers and bulk bins. To make sure that you buy nothing but the freshest peanuts possible, check if the bins are covered in the bulk section. Observe if the store where you’re buying the peanuts from has a good product turnover so as to guarantee that the peanuts are not old stock.
One way to ensure that your peanuts are free from molds is to check the packaged container. Inspect whether the said container is free from moisture or insect contamination. Whenever possible, smell the peanuts to make sure that you will not be buying rancid ones.
When buying raw peanuts that are still in their shell, it is best to check the physical appearance of their shells. Always look for those with clean and unbroken shells. Get rid of those that are discolored, withered, or showing any signs of mold.
You can tell that the peanut is in good condition by giving it a little shake. A peanut is in good condition if it feels heavy for its size and it doesn’t give a rattling sound when shaken. A rattling sound indicates that the kernels have already dried out.
Whenever possible choose the 100% organic Valenciana and Jungle peanut variants because they’re supposed to be free from aflatoxins. If you would like to consider buying some raw peanuts with low aflatoxins, you may try this.
Storing raw peanuts in shells can go as far as six months. Just make sure that you store them in a cool, dry place. For shelled peanuts, you should place them in an airtight container and store them in the freezer or refrigerator to keep them away from heat and humidity.
Preparing and Enjoying Raw Peanuts Properly
Raw peanuts can be consumed as a snack because they are very delicious and have less sugar and sodium compared to other processed peanuts. They can also be added to several dishes, like salads, soups, and stir-fries. Before you use them in a recipe, taste one to ensure its freshness or you could destroy the entire dish.
In preparing peanuts as part of a dish, chop them finely using a sharp chef’s knife and a clean chopping board. You can watch how it’s done in this video.
You can chop peanuts using a curved chopper and wooden bowl.
You can also do it in a food processor, but make sure that you don’t ground them too much or you’ll end up making peanut butter instead. The best way to do it is to grind a small amount at a time using the pulse button.
Once your raw peanuts are chopped finely, you can follow these simple recipe ideas.
- Sauté them together with the vegetables to add a richer flavor.
- Toss them together with broccoli, peas, and celery to create a more delicious raw vegetable salad.
- Combine them with squash, coconut milk, and herbs to make a richer Kabocha Peanut Soup.
- You can also make your sautéed chicken healthier by adding them to the dish.
- Of course, you can also take command and create your own homemade peanut butter which is free from sugar and salt.
For every 1-oz serving of peanuts, you can get as much as 160 calories approximately. If ever you decide to incorporate peanuts to your diet, make sure to consume less calories from other foods so you don’t gain weight.
Try Some Raw Peanuts Today!
The bottom line is you can eat raw peanuts, but in moderation. Approximately, you can eat four 1.5 oz servings of raw peanuts every week. Just make sure that they are of the best quality.
If you would like to buy some raw peanuts, you might consider buying the Valenciana and Jungle peanut variants, just like this.
To eat raw peanuts safely, follow these easy steps.
- Choose raw peanuts with the best quality – unblemished shells, doesn’t give a rattling sound when shaken, and are in dry packaging containers.
- Store them in a cool, dry place.
- Eat them as snacks or add them to other dishes like salads, soups, and stir-fries.