You know peanuts pack a nutritious punch, but does it matter how they're prepared? It turns out yes -- there's actually a significant difference between boiled and dry-roasted peanuts in both calorie and nutrient content. Most of the peanuts lining supermarket shelves in the United States are the roasted variety, while boiled peanuts are more common in China. You can boil your own by simmering raw nuts in the shell for about an hour and a half.
If you're watching your girlish figure, boiled peanuts may be the way to go. At just 90 calories per 1-ounce serving, shelled, this snack fits easily into any healthy eating plan. In contrast, dry-roasted peanuts pack in 170 calories per ounce -- nearly double the energy of boiled peanuts. That said, a single serving of dry-roasted peanuts won't bust your diet. Most women need about 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day to maintain their weight, depending on their size, age and activity level -- so either snack is probably less than 10 percent of your daily calorie needs.
Here's another major inequality: boiled peanuts have about 6 grams of total fat per ounce, while dry-roasted peanuts have roughly 14. However, neither one has any cholesterol, and the saturated fat content is low. Both types of peanuts contain mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart. Unsaturated fats are associated with lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels as well as reduced diabetes risk. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 90 percent of your fat come from unsaturated sources like peanuts. Aim for 44 to 78 grams of total fat per day.
Research published in the "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" in 2001 indicates that boiled or fried peanuts, which are cooked at lower temperatures than roasted peanuts, cause less of a reaction in people with allergies. This may help account for the fact that fewer Chinese people exhibit signs of peanut allergy than Americans, even though peanuts are a dietary staple. However, it still is not safe to eat peanuts -- boiled or otherwise -- if you are allergic to them.
Salted, boiled peanuts tend to have slightly more sodium than salted, dry-roasted peanuts, but both types hover around 200 milligrams per serving. Unsalted peanuts have only trace amounts of sodium. Healthy adults should get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. African-Americans, as well as anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease, liver cirrhosis or kidney disease, should cap their daily sodium intake at just 1,500 milligrams. Too much sodium may spike blood pressure and cause water retention, which can temporarily add to body weight.
Vitamins and Minerals
The downside of boiled peanuts is that they contain fewer nutrients. In the boiling process, peanuts lose about half of their vitamin E, magnesium, folate and niacin content, as well as two-thirds of their potassium. So if you aren't watching calories or fat intake, roasted peanuts are your better nutritional bet.
- PubMed.gov: Effects of Cooking Methods on Peanut Allergenicity
- New York Magazine: Boiled Peanuts
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Library: Nutrient Data for 16088, Peanuts, All Types, Cooked, Boiled, With Salt
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Library: Nutrient Data for 16090, Peanuts, All Types, Dry-Roasted, With Salt
- FamilyDoctor.org: Nutrition: Determine Your Calorie Needs
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork With these Nutrition Guidelines
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where's the Sodium?
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.