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.3
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 diet decreased the risk for cardiovascular disease by about 16 percent.6
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
Peanut Oil 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
Highly Refined Oil Is Nonallergenic
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
Peanut Oil Is Ideal for Cooking at High Temperatures
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 oil||Estimated smoke point|
|Sesame Seed||410° 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.
- “Oils: How Are Oils Different from Solid Fats?” U.S. Department of Agriculture. choosemyplate.gov/oils-fats.
- “Healthy Cooking Oils.” American Heart Association. heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/SimpleCookingandRecipes/Healthy-Cooking-Oils_UCM_445179_Article.jsp.
- “Cooking Oils: Test Your Oil IQ.” National Kidney Foundation. kidney.org/news/keephealthy/newsletter/WinterSpring2014/KH_Test-Your-Oil-IQ.
- “Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/monounsaturated-fats.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “Vitamin E.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. medlineplus.gov/vitamine.html.
- “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.
- “Peanut Allergy.” Food Allergy Research & Education. foodallergy.org/common-allergens/peanut.