5 Benefits of Cooking with Peanut Oil

Here’s a rule of thumb for the kitchen: Whenever possible, replace fats that are solid at room temperature (such as butter and shortening) with ones that are liquid (such as various oils from plants).1, 2 Oils, in general, are healthier for your heart1, 2 —and peanut oil, in particular, is prized for its health benefits2 and culinary properties.

Is Peanut Oil Bad for You?

No, in fact peanut oil is one of the healthiest oils. Peanut oil is packed with nutrition. It is a vegetable oil that is naturally trans fat-free, cholesterol free, and low in saturated fats. Peanut oil is high in unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fat, which is also found in olive oil. It is also a source of the antioxidant vitamin E and phytosterols, which benefit heart health. Check 5 reasons below why we think you should be cooking with peanut oil.

Peanut Oil Health Benefits

Peanut oil, derived from the seeds of the peanut plant, is a versatile and healthful cooking oil with numerous benefits. Incorporating peanut oil into a balanced diet can be a flavorful and health-conscious choice, provided it is used in moderation.

1. Peanut Oil Is a Heart-Smart Choice

Peanut oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.4 Research shows that a diet rich in peanut oil can help lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels.5, 6 And that, in turn, can reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.4

In one study, Penn State researchers compared the effects of five different eating plans:6

  • Low-fat diet
  • Peanut oil-rich diet, which was high in monounsaturated fat
  • Peanut- and peanut butter-rich diet, which was high in monounsaturated fat
  • Olive oil-rich diet, which was high in monounsaturated fat
  • Typical American diet, which was high in saturated fat6

Compared with the usual American fare, the three diets high in monounsaturated fat lowered LDL levels as well as the low-fat diet did.6 But unlike the low-fat diet, these other eating plans did not decrease HDL, or “good,” cholesterol levels.6 (For HDL, higher levels are better.7)All in all, the peanut oil-rich nutrition diet decreased the risk for cardiovascular disease by about 16 percent.6

2. Peanut Oil Contains Cholesterol-Blocking Compounds

In addition to providing heart-healthy fat5, peanut oil contains phytosterols. These plant compounds block the absorption of cholesterol from food, reducing the amount of cholesterol that ends up in your blood.5 Both unrefined and refined peanut oils contain more phytosterols than extra-virgin olive oil8—another common source of monounsaturated fat.4

3. Peanut Oil Nutrition Provides a Much-Needed Antioxidant

Vitamin E is a nutrient that most Americans need more of4—and peanut oil is an excellent source of it.5 This vitamin acts as an antioxidant within the body.4 Among other things, it helps maintain your immune system and metabolism.9

4. Highly Refined Groundnut Oil Is Non Allergenic

Good news if you’re allergic to peanuts: During processing, the allergenic component is removed from highly refined peanut oil—the main type of peanut oil used by U.S. food chains.8 Research shows that most people with a peanut allergy can safely eat this kind of oil, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.11 Gourmet peanut oil (aka cold-pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil) should still be avoided, however. Ask your health care provider for guidance.11

5. Peanut Oil Is Better for Frying

Peanut oil has a pleasing and sometimes light nutty flavor. In addition to its great taste, peanut oil is perfect for deep-frying because it does not absorb the flavor of other foods cooked in the oil. Due to this unique property, you can cook several different items in the same batch of peanut oil and each will maintain its own great taste. Peanut oil is also one of the world’s traditional deep-frying oils because it can reach such a high temperature. This will keep the outside of the food crispy and the inside very moist. Peanut oil works well with all types of cooking and has been the oil of choice for frying by numerous restaurants for many years because it tastes great.

Peanut oil has a high “smoke point” 3—the temperature at which the oil begins to break down, which may cause an unpleasant odor or taste.10 Here’s how the smoke point of peanut oil stacks up against several other common cooking oils:

Type of oilEstimated smoke point
Peanut450° F
Safflower450° F
Soybean450° F
Grapeseed445° F
Canola435° F
Corn410° F
Olive410° F
Sesame Seed410° F
Sunflower410° F

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (source 10)

Peanut oil’s tolerance for high heat coupled with its mildly nutty flavor makes it a favorite for frying and stir-frying.3 Check out these mouthwatering recipes for deep-fried turkey.

Peanut Oil Nutrition Recommendations

Because of its many benefits, advantages and nutritional value we think that peanut oil is a great thing to cook and fry with and we aren’t the only ones recommending this.

The 2020 US Dietary Guidelines recommend that fat intake should emphasize monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils. The American Heart Association says, “Most of the fats you eat should be the “better” fats—monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.” Vegetable oils (canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil), avocados, nuts and seeds, and seafood are recommended sources of these fats.

So let’s get cooking! Be sure to check out our breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes with peanut butter, and more!

 

Resources
  1. “Oils: How Are Oils Different from Solid Fats?” U.S. Department of Agriculture. choosemyplate.gov/oils-fats.
  2. “Healthy Cooking Oils.” American Heart Association. heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/SimpleCookingandRecipes/Healthy-Cooking-Oils_UCM_445179_Article.jsp.
  3. “Cooking Oils: Test Your Oil IQ.” National Kidney Foundation. kidney.org/news/keephealthy/newsletter/WinterSpring2014/KH_Test-Your-Oil-IQ.
  4. “Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/monounsaturated-fats.
  5. “Peanuts as Functional Food: A Review.” S.S. Arya et al. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2016, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 31-41.
  6. “High-Monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diets Lower Both Plasma Cholesterol and Triacylglycerol Concentrations.” P.M. Kris-Etherton et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999, vol. 70, pp. 1009-15.
  7. “HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides.” American Heart Association. heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/HDLLDLTriglycerides/HDL-Good-LDL-Bad-Cholesterol-and-Triglycerides_UCM_305561_Article.jsp.
  8. “Physiocochemical Characteristics, Functional Properties, and Nutritional Benefits of Peanut Oil: A Review.” S. Akhtar et al. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2014, vol. 54, no. 12, pp. 1562-75.
  9. “Vitamin E.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. medlineplus.gov/vitamine.html.
  10. “Deep Fat Frying and Food Safety.” Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/deep-fat-frying-and-food-safety/ct_index.
  11. “Peanut Allergy.” Food Allergy Research & Education. foodallergy.org/common-allergens/peanut.