If you are an Indian and â€˜vegetarian by birth,â€™ chances are that your parents must have tried the egg route to robust health. Mine did. We had a separate pan and a separate stove, and cooked eggs outside the kitchen, on the balcony. My mother hoped to put some meat on our vegetarian bones this way. Misguided? Maybe.
There are very few countries in the world where vegetarianism thrives. India holds the record for being the home to the largest number of vegetarians with 40% of the population espousing vegetarianism. The trend to shun all things meat and animal is picking up all over the world.
Will this result in protein-starved, undernourished millions walking our planet? Happily, no!
Peanut power to the rescue
Peanuts are not nuts- technically. They are legumes and are related to beans, lentils, and soy. A 100 gram serving of peanuts will give you 26 grams of protein. They are highly nutritional and one of the best and more affordable sources of protein. Not only are they a good replacement for meat and eggs, they are actually BETTER.
We say protein; science says amino acids
What we call protein is actually a family of amino acids. When these molecules group together in different combinations, we get proteins. Protein is a macronutrient.
20 different types of amino acids can form these protein chains. Out of these only 9 cannot be synthesised by the human body: only these 9 essential amino acids need to be eaten; meat and eggs are not the only sources. This is why vegetarians will not disappear in a puff of smoke or droop like weeds because of protein deprivation. There are very good vegetarian sources of protein and peanuts are a powerful example.
Meat and eggs are not nutrient-diverse
Meat and eggs contain two main macronutrients: protein and fat. They contain no vitamins, no minerals, and no fibre. Vitamins and minerals are necessary to digest and assimilate protein efficiently. Fibre helps in proper digestion and to push the unused â€˜wasteâ€™ out of the body.
Peanuts, on the other hand, contain copper, manganese, folate, phosphorous, molybdenum, Vitamins E, B1, B3 and biotin besides a sizeable dose of protein.
Meat and eggs are high in saturated fat
Saturated fat is healthy on the living animal, not when humans eat it. It is the cause for a host of diseases with cardiac problems leading the way. The human body cannot break down saturated fats in a healthful way. That is why there is so much advice on avoiding these kinds of fat. Eggs are high in cholesterol.
Eating meat and eggs leads to fatty deposits in the body which gradually turn to plaque deposits in blood vessels. Narrowed blood vessels put pressure on your heart making its job of pumping blood difficult. This leads to heart disease.
Yes, peanuts are high in fat; in fact, they are what we call â€˜oilseedsâ€™ and peanut oil is a cooking medium in India. 44-56% of the nutritional profile of peanuts is fat. But these are mostly mono and polyunsaturated fats made up of oleic and linoleic acid.
These essential fatty acids are effective in controlling diabetes and insulin resistance. They improve blood circulation, cure inflammation, and keep the skin moisturised. Linoleic acid, in particular, is nourishment for the largest organ in the human body- the skin.
Meat is acidic
Diet gurus say meat is a major acidic food which is difficult to break down and digest. It taxes the kidneys and upsets the bodyâ€™s pH balance. This impacts the immune system.
Meat eaters tend to eat it fried, overly flavoured and seasoned with masalas and curry pastes, turning their backs on vegetables. This increases acidity. It also does nothing to neutralise it. Meat eaters need to be mindful of their vegetable intakes.
No one can term peanuts acidic, and there are no great culinary skills needed to cook or make them edible: just a pinch of salt if you eat them boiled!
Meat can be toxic
Food sourced from animals carries the risk of toxicity. Since the biological makeup of animals is high in fat, if they eat a toxic diet it is stored as a part of their body fat. When we eat meat, we end up adopting these toxins into our diets.
Eating peanuts is not this risky. Organic peanuts negate the risk of toxicity altogether as they are grown without the use of chemicals. So, when you adopt peanuts as your power food, go organic!
Meat and eggs and other diseases
Too much protein isnâ€™t a good thing. Plaque deposits can also cause calcification of tissues and bones which cause long-term diseases. Osteoporosis and cancer are some of the conditions that meat consumption can cause you.
So, if you are looking for a high-protein diet, make sure that your target is not too high. Proteins are just one of the classes of foods in a balanced diet. Meat and eggs do not cover all these classes of food. Peanuts do.
The goodness of peanuts when they grace your diet
- Peanuts are low in carbohydrates.
- They are high in protein, good fats, and fibres and have a low glycemic index. They are, thus, slow to enter the bloodstream on digestion and make an ideal protein source for people with diabetes.
- Peanuts are rich in antioxidants like resveratrol, isoflavones, phytic acid, and phytosterols which favour heart health, help guard against cancer, and impair the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract.
- Peanuts are high in fats of the right kind; in fact, studies have shown that eating the right quantity of peanuts reduces the risk of obesity. Replace empty calories; snack on peanuts instead of chips and colas.
Are peanuts healthier than meat or eggs?
The answer will have to be yes. Peanuts are not just protein. They are rich in many essential nutrients. They are a balanced source of nutrition. Organic peanuts are an improvement as they deliver peanuts to us in their most natural form, untouched by poisonous chemicals.
Peanuts should be stored dry to protect them from fungus. They should be eaten or used before they get rancid. So buy a good organic brand today.