Peanut oil is 100% vegan. It’s simply extracted from the seeds of the peanut plant.
It belongs to the vegetable oil category and is used in frying and cooking. There are many ways peanut oil can be processed, and depending on how it’s made, it has significant health benefits and some downsides. Most vegans prefer cold-pressed peanut oil as it doesn’t go through intense extraction.
With too many vegan cooking oils to use these days, it’s hard to choose which one has the best health benefits. If you’re wondering about peanut oil, let’s find out about it and see if it can make the cut.
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What Is Peanut Oil?
Also known as the groundnut or Arachis oil, peanut oil is made from ground and pressed edible seeds of the peanut plant. Peanuts belong to the bean and pea family and are a type of legume. Because of their high oil content of around 437℉, peanuts are among the world’s top-producing oil crops.
Peanut oil is common in South Asian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cooking. It has also become a staple American cooking, especially in restaurant chains.
Because of its mild flavor and high smoking point, peanut oil is often used in cooking, especially in frying. It’s packed with monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) with less saturated fats and is more resistant to rancidity. This is why peanut oil is healthier than cooking oils that are loaded with saturated fats.
It’s worth noting that saturated fat is one of the unhealthy fats that are often derived from butter, cheese, red meat, among others. These kinds of saturated cooking oils are avoided by vegans.
Peanut Oil Flavors
Peanut oil has several kinds of flavors that go through different processes and techniques.
- Cold-Pressed Or Extra Virgin Peanut Oil. This technique retains nutrients because of its low-heat process. Peanuts are crushed to extract oil that keeps the seeds’ natural flavor. Many vegans prefer using this type of peanut oil as it doesn’t have to go through extensive extraction that may involve chemicals.
- Refined Peanut Oil. Most restaurants use this type of peanut oil as its process gets rid of the allergen that causes allergic reactions to some. The method requires peanuts to go through a refining, bleaching, and deodorizing process. However, in the U.S., this is exempted from the allergen labeling law.
- Peanut Oil Blends. This is more affordable than any other type of peanut oil as it’s mixed with another cheaper oil such as soybean oil, which also has a high smoking point.
- Gourmet Peanut Oil. Many restaurants also use this type of peanut oil as it does great in stir-frying. This is a specialty oil that goes through the roasting process and is unrefined. Because of this technique, the oil gives bolder and more intense flavor, giving dishes a nutty taste.
How Healthy Is Peanut Oil?
Peanut oil is relatively healthy due to its high MUFA content of about 50% with only 20% of saturated fat, and 30% polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). Here’s a short breakdown of peanut oil’s nutrients that you get from one tablespoon.
- Calories: 119
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated fat: 2.3 g
- Monounsaturated fat: 6.2 g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 4.3 g
- Vitamin E: 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Phytosterols: 27.9 mg
Because of peanut oil’s high MUFA ad PUFA content, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends increasing both of these healthy fats intakes. This could help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It’s also high in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that protects the human body from free radicals. These free radicals are associated with chronic diseases, including cancer. It also helps boost the immune system, protecting the body against bad bacteria and viruses.
Studies also suggest that the high PUFA and MUFA content of peanut oil may help reduce the blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Even in animal studies, it shows a healthy significance in blood sugar control.
Unfortunately, there are also potential health risks of peanut oil. Omega-6 is a type of PUFA which is essential to your health when consumed moderately. However, in the last few years, omega-6 intake has increased significantly, which poses danger to human health.
Excessive intake of omega-6 can cause inflammatory diseases such as obesity, heart diseases, cancer, and bowel disease. Studies even found that a high intake of omega-6 can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Peanut oil is high in PUFA, which makes it prone to oxidation. Unsaturated fats are easily exposed to free radicals and harmful compounds. Heating oxidized oil can be harmful to your health, such as premature aging, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
How To Use Peanut Oil
Peanut oil has a high smoking point, which makes it great for cooking and baking. There are many different vegan dishes in which you can use peanut oil, especially since it gives a mild, nutty taste. Vegans love cold-pressed peanut oil because the process isn’t extensive, and more nutrients are retained.
If you’re into cooking, these healthy vegan dishes are great with peanut oil. Take note that although the real meat works great with a high smoking point cooking oil, their vegan alternatives do the same. Here’s the list of my favorite vegan dishes that I like making at home:
- Onion Rings
- Vegan Cashew Chicken
- Vegan Spicy Fried Chicken
- Stir-Fried Chinese Long Beans
- Homemade Tortilla Chips
- Vegan Stir-Fried Pork with Green Onions
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Vegan Cookies
- Vegan Stir-Fried Shrimp With Noodles
- Sauteed Veggies
- French Fries
- Vegan Patties
How To Store Peanut Oil
Peanut oil also has a longer shelf life. An unopened container lasts a year or two as long as you keep it in a cool, dark place.
Used peanut oil can also be stored and used again in cooking. You should place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it or store it in a cool, dark place to extend its life span.
Just make sure to get rid of any food particles left in the used peanut oil to keep it fresh. The used or opened peanut oil should be used no after six months.
There are many vegan-friendly cooking oils that leave a huge impact on the environment, including palm oil and corn oil. Fortunately, peanut oil is moderately sustainable. There is no known huge damage to water, air, land, and forests that peanut oil production causes.
Environmentalists suggest buying organic, non-GMO, or cold-pressed peanut oil. These don’t use pesticides or chemicals that are harmful to the surroundings. The only thing that sometimes makes it harmful to the environment is its high carbon emission and water consumption.
Other Vegan-Friendly Cooking Oils
All vegan-friendly cooking oils have either little or a huge impact on the environment. But if you’re wise enough to get the non-GMO, organic, and unrefined cooking oil, everything is great.
So, here are my top healthiest vegan cooking oils that have little impact on the environment. They taste great and have a moderate to high smoking point, perfect for any kind of vegan cooking. I suggest getting them in a cooking spray form if you’re using them to grease baking pans.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Cold-Pressed Avocado Oil
- Unrefined Rice Bran Oil
- Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Canola Oil
- Extra Virgin Organic Sesame Oil
- Cold-Pressed Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Organic Sunflower Oil
- Cold-Pressed Soybean Oil
The Bottom Line
Peanut oil is vegan-friendly and has several healthy compounds that are beneficial to the human body. As long as you don’t consume peanut oil excessively, it’s healthy to make it part of your vegan diet.
Additionally, peanut oil is widely used in cooking and baking, especially in restaurants, due to its mild, nutty flavor and high smoking point. It’s ideal for stir-frying as well as in making vegan dishes.
Although peanut oil production requires high water consumption and carbon emission, it doesn’t pose a huge danger to the environment. This is why many vegans prefer using peanut oil, as it’s moderately sustainable and is mostly produced without pesticides that contaminate the soil and water.
If peanut oil isn’t your best choice, there are other environmentally friendly cooking oils that you can stock in your pantry. They’re safe and healthy for you and have little to no environmental impact because they’re mostly organic and unrefined.