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 has a unique property. It does not absorb the flavor of other foods cooked in the oil. Therefore, you can cook several different items together and each will maintain their own great taste. Peanut oil is also one of the world’s traditional deep-frying oils because it can reach a high temperature that keeps the outside of food crispy and the inside very moist. Peanut oil works well with all types of recipes and has been the oil of choice for frying by numerous restaurants for many years because it tastes great.
Understanding Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is a great way to include the health benefits of peanuts into some of your favorite meals. Plus, they taste great!
But before you get cooking, it’s important to know your options, their differences with, how peanut oil is made and where you can find it.
Main Types, Multiple Benefits
Gourmet Peanut Oil
Gourmet roasted peanut oils are not refined and are considered specialty oils. Some of these gourmet peanut oils may be roasted, aromatic oils, which provide a wonderful peanut aroma and flavor to many food products. They provide significant levels of vitamin E and phytosterols. If you are wondering where to buy this peanut oil, they are available in many retail outlets and online.
Refined Peanut Oil
Refined peanut oil, like all processed vegetable oil, has been refined, bleached and deodorized. This process removes the allergic protein component of the oil, making it non-allergenic. Refined peanut oil is the main type utilized in major U.S. fast-food chains.
The Deep-Frying Oil of Choice
In addition to its great taste, refined peanut oil is perfect for deep-frying because it has a unique property: it does not absorb the flavor of other foods cooked in the oil. Therefore, you can cook several different items together and each will maintain their own unique taste. Refined peanut oil is also one of the world’s traditional deep-frying oils because it can reach a high temperature that keeps the outside of food crispy and the inside very moist. Both versions of peanut oil have been used with all types of cooking, but refined peanut oil has been the oil of choice for frying by numerous restaurants for many years due to its flexibility and great taste.
100% Peanut Oil
Packaging can be confusing at times. Sometimes oils are blended. To receive all the benefits of peanut oil for your turkey fry, look for peanut oil as the only ingredient, or for “100% peanut oil” on the packaging.
Peanut Oil vs. Olive Oil
While both are recommended sources of heart healthy fats by the American Heart Association, there are some differences to note when comparing peanut oil vs. olive oil.
In peanut oil, for example, the ratio of healthy fats are close to 50% monounsaturated (MUFAs), and 32% polyunsaturated (PUFAs). For olive oil, approximately 70% of the healthy fats are monounsaturated, and 10% are polyunsaturated.
The American Heart Association recommends replacing saturated fats with these unsaturated fats in general, as polyunsaturated fats have shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 30%, and help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
So, what’s the difference?
Monounsaturated fats are seen as an important part of the Mediterranean diet’s success for health, which showed low rates of heart disease for Greek subjects in a Seven Countries Study.
Polyunsaturated fats, meanwhile, are known as “essential” fats. This means they’re necessary for your body to properly function, but because our bodies can’t produce them, we have to get them from the food we eat.
Another difference between the two, according to the State University of New York at Buffalo, is that peanut oil has more phytosterols than olive oil. In addition to protecting against heart disease, phytosterols in peanut oil protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth and preventing its spread to other parts of the body.
Another important aspect of the olive oil vs. peanut oil distinction are their cooking applications. And just like a lot of other aspects of cooking, it’s really a matter of taste. Generally, olive oil adds a subtle flavor, while most peanut oil has had all flavors removed — which lets you retain the pure flavor of your dish. This is especially helpful when frying. However, some peanut oils retain their nutty aroma and flavor, so you’ll need to do some investigating to find the one that’s right for you.
Smoke points are also something you’ll want to consider, as all oils have a different temperature threshold they can reach before burning. Higher smoke points allows you to cook at higher temperatures, allowing for hotter frying and crispier texture.
|Oil Type||Smoke Point (Approx.)|
|Olive Oil (Refined)||410°F / 210°C|
|Peanut oil||450°F / 232°C|
Is Peanut Oil Healthy?
Both refined and unrefined peanut oil are vegetable oils that are naturally trans fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in saturated fats. They are also a source of vitamin E, an antioxidant, and phytosterols, which benefit heart health and have been found to protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. High oleic peanut oil is high in unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fat, like olive oil. Because it can be heated to a higher temperature than other oils, resulting in lower oil residue in food, refined peanut oil is a perfect choice for healthier frying.
Peanut Oil Nutrition
The health benefits of high oleic peanut oil on blood lipids and heart health were looked at in a controlled human study conducted at Penn State University, which assigned subjects to one of four diets and compared them to the average American diet (AAD):
- Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from high oleic peanut oil (PO)
- Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from olive oil (OO)
- Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from peanuts and peanut butter (PPB)
- Low-fat Step II diet (American Heart Association/National Cholesterol Education Program)
The PO and PPB diets significantly improved total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels similar to olive oil when compared to an average American diet. Cardiovascular disease risk was also significantly reduced by the PO and PPB diets, similar to the OO diet.
In another human study, weight loss was measured in those on a moderate-fat diet versus a low-fat diet. Peanut oil was substituted for half the fat in the moderate-fat diet. Subjects on the diet including peanut oil lost weight and also had improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Additional emerging data is showing the benefits of healthy fats in regards to type 2 diabetes. Data shows that insulin sensitivity can be improved when saturated fat is replaced with unsaturated fats, like those found in peanut oil.
Who Recommends Peanut Oil?
The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping “total fat intake between 20 to 35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils,” like peanut oil.
One such monounsaturated fat, found in peanut oil, is known as “oleic acid.” In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration announced a qualified health claim that “daily consumption of about 1.5 tablespoons of oils containing high levels (at least 70%) of oleic acid, when replaced for fats and oils higher in saturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
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.
Peanut Oil and Allergy
Research shows that highly refined peanut oil, which has had all of the allergic peanut proteins removed, does not cause an allergic response in severely allergic individuals. A controlled human study published in the British Medical Journal tested refined peanut oil in 60 severely allergic individuals and found that “refined peanut oil did not pose a risk in any of the subjects” who were allergic to peanuts.
The FDA Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act also state, “highly refined oils and ingredients derived from highly refined oils are excluded from the definition of ‘major food allergen.’”
Unrefined or roasted peanut oil, however, are not considered allergen exempt due to the possibility that they may contain some trace proteins.
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