Peanuts are crops grown primarily for their edible seeds, and they are classified as grain legumes and oil crops. They’re not nuts because, unlike nuts, which are fruits that grow on trees (with shells that harden at maturity), peanuts are vegetables that grow from underground. Since peanuts grow from the ground, you might wonder if they have water in them.
Peanuts have a small percentage of water in them. When freshly dug from the ground, they contain 25 to 50% water. It’s advisable to soak raw peanuts in water and dry them until only 10% or less of the water remains. Soaking and drying are necessary for storing the peanuts properly.
This article will discuss why it’s beneficial to soak and dry raw peanuts. I’ll also talk about how to soak peanuts in water to improve taste and prolong shelf life. Then, I’ll then tackle some benefits and drawbacks of eating peanuts, including allergies, weight loss, and heart health.
Peanuts Naturally Have Water in Them
Peanut plants have a stable and intricate root system. Their roots go deep into the soil to soak up water from the ground. The plants then absorb the water and distribute it to the stems and leaves to promote growth.
Some of the water eventually ends up in the crops we know as peanuts.
Why Are Raw Peanuts Soaked in Water?
Raw peanuts are soaked in water to neutralize phytic acid, an anti-nutrient agent that decreases the body’s mineral absorption. It also acts as a defense mechanism for peanuts so that they don’t sprout prematurely. The body’s nutrient absorption isn’t disrupted when phytic acid is neutralized.
It’s easier to digest peanuts if they are initially soaked in water.
How To Soak and Dry Raw Peanuts
Raw peanuts are white and almost translucent. They taste a bit bland, almost like peas. When you soak them in water, the phytic acids will be neutralized. This process will also help make peanuts tastier. Drying them will help extend their shelf life.
This is how you soak and dry raw peanuts:
- Place the raw peanuts in a glass bowl.
- Pour water until the peanuts are fully covered.
- Add some salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Cover the bowl and let the peanuts soak for at least 7 hours.
- Drain the soaked peanuts.
- Dry the soaked peanuts until they’re crunchy and no longer soft. You may use a food dehydrator for faster results.
- Store the peanuts in an air-tight container.
Does the Water in Cooked Peanuts Cause Weight Gain?
The water in cooked peanuts doesn’t cause weight gain, although peanuts themselves can make you gain weight due to their high-calorie content. A handful of dry-roasted peanuts—about an ounce—easily contain about 170 calories. On the other hand, an ounce of raw peanuts has about 161 calories.
If you consume more calories than your body could burn, the excess will be stored as fat. Over time, excess calories and fat will cause weight gain. You should consume peanuts in moderation, especially if you’re watching your weight.
Salted peanuts are a different issue altogether. Due to their high sodium content, salted peanuts can cause temporary water weight gain. Over time, this temporary water weight may become more permanent, especially if you tend to over-indulge in peanuts.
It’s Unhealthy To Overeat Peanuts
Popping peanuts into your mouth can be very addictive. However, it would be best to be mindful of how much you eat because consuming too many peanuts has drawbacks. Here are some of them:
- Weight gain: As previously mentioned, the high-calorie content in peanuts may cause weight gain. A handful of peanuts already accounts for 9% of an adult’s daily calorie needs if you adhere to a 2,000-calorie diet.
- Reduced mineral absorption: Peanuts contain phytates, known as anti-nutrient acids. They bind with nutrients like zinc, manganese, iron, and calcium. Also, they reduce the absorption of these elements into the body.
- Increased sodium intake: Peanuts inherently don’t have a high sodium content. However, they’ve usually been sprinkled with spices and flavorings, particularly salt, by the time they’re served to you. Be mindful of the amount of salt you take with peanuts. High sodium intake may cause headaches, high blood pressure, and kidney stones.
- Potential food allergen risk: An allergy to peanuts is very common and is the culprit for the majority of deaths relating to food allergies. Symptoms include nausea, itching, and swelling. Difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face (particularly the lips and tongue), drowsiness, confusion, vomiting, and seizure are some of the more severe symptoms.
Benefits of Eating Peanuts
Peanuts are great sources of nutrition. Snacking on peanuts will let you enjoy many health benefits. Here are some of them:
- Lower cholesterol levels: The “good fats” and antioxidants in peanuts may help protect you from a heart attack or stroke.
- Weight loss: The high protein content of peanuts will help make you feel full, hence making you eat less.
- Reduced inflammation: Peanuts are high in fiber, making them excellent aids in reducing inflammation in the body.
- Stable blood sugar levels: Peanuts are low in carbs and have a low glycemic index. These factors make them safe snacks for people with diabetes.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease: More than 80% of the good fats in peanuts are unsaturated fats, which are known to be healthy for the heart. Peanuts also contain arginine and vitamin E, both of which have heart-protective benefits.
- Great source of fiber: More than ⅓ of the carbs in peanuts is fiber.
- Excellent source of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy: Peanuts are high in biotin and folate, two of the more important nutrients needed for proper fetal development.
What’s the Healthiest Way To Eat Peanuts?
There are many ways to enjoy peanuts. You can eat raw or blanched peanuts and, more popularly, boiled or roasted ones.
The healthiest way to eat peanuts is by boiling them before eating them. Boiled peanuts have higher antioxidant levels. Antioxidants aid in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. It’s best to boil the peanuts while they’re still in their shells.
This way, the antioxidants present in the shells and skins won’t go to waste.
The water in peanuts is negligible enough not to cause any health benefits or drawbacks. It’s recommended to soak and dry peanuts to make them safer to eat.
As tempting as it may be to mindlessly snack on peanuts, consuming them in moderation is wise. This way, you can enjoy more of the health benefits that this nutritious snack has to offer.