Health: Deep-frying turkey in peanut oil is heart healthy


Health Benefits

Peanut oil is one of the healthiest oils. It is a vegetable oil that is naturally trans fat-free, cholesterol free, and low in saturated fats. Peanut oil is high in healthy unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fat, like olive oil. It is also a source of the antioxidant vitamin E and phytosterols, which benefit heart health.

Peanut Oil Nutrition Studies

The effects of 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:

  • 1. Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from peanut oil (PO),
  • 2. Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from olive oil (OO),
  • 3. Moderate fat – 1/2 fat from peanuts and peanut butter (PPB)
  • 4. Low-fat Step II diet (American Heart Association/National Cholesterol Education Program),
  • 5. Average American diet (AAD).
table spread with woman cutting into plate of turkey

The PO and PPB diets significantly improved total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels similar to olive oil when compared to an AAD. 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 of 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 regard to type 2 diabetes and mortality risk. Data show that insulin sensitivity can be improved when saturated fat is replaced with unsaturated fats, like those found in peanut oil.

Further, recent recent research from Harvard School of Public Health shows that replacing 5% of energy from saturated fat (approximately 100 calories, or 1 serving) with an equal amount of poly- and monounsaturated fats can reduce mortality risk by up to 27%.

Did You Know?

Peanut oil is one of the safest oils for cooking, due to its high smoke point. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil begins to produce toxic fumes and harmful free radicals. Refined peanut oil has one of the highest smoke points of 450°F (232°C). This is much higher- and safer- than the smoke points of refined canola oil (400°F/204°C) and extra virgin olive oil (320°F/160°C).


Main Types, Multiple Benefits

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 US fast-food chains.

Gourmet Peanut Oil

Gourmet roasted peanut oils are not refined and are considered specialty oils. They provide significant levels of vitamin E and phytosterols and are available in many retail outlets.

100% Peanut Oil

Packaging can be confusing at times. Sometimes oils are blended. To receive all of 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.

Who Recommends Peanut Oil?

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you consume 5 teaspoons per day of plant oils, such as peanut oil. Peanut oil is high in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, and is an excellent component of a heart-healthy diet.

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 proteins removed, does not cause an allergic response in severely allergic individuals. A controlled human study published in the British Medical Journal that tested refined peanut oil in 60 severely allergic individuals, 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’.”

bottle of light and dark peanut oil