Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil or arachis oil, is a mild tasting vegetable oil derived from peanuts. The oil is available in refined, unrefined, cold pressed, and roasted varieties, the latter with a strong peanut flavor and aroma, analogous to sesame oil.
It is often used in Chinese, South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, both for general cooking, and in the case of roasted oil, for added flavor. Peanut oil has a high smoke point relative to many other cooking oils, so is commonly used for frying foods. Its major component fatty acids are oleic acid (46.8% as olein), linoleic acid (33.4% as linolein), and palmitic acid (10.0% as palmitin). The oil also contains some stearic acid, arachidic acid, arachidonic acid, behenic acid, lignoceric acid and other fatty acids.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E are sometimes added, to improve the shelf life of the oil.
The oil had increased use in the United States during World War II, because of war shortages of other oils.
According to the USDA data upon which the following table is based, 100 g of peanut oil contains 17.7 g of saturated fat, 48.3 g of monounsaturated fat, and 33.4 g of polyunsaturated fat.
Allergens and toxins
Most highly refined peanut oils remove the peanut allergens and have been shown to be safe for "the vast majority of peanut-allergic individuals". Cold-pressed peanut oils may not remove the allergens and thus could be highly dangerous to people with peanut allergy. Since the degree of processing for any particular product is often unclear, "avoidance is prudent." Peanuts that contain the mold that produces highly toxic aflatoxin can end up contaminating the oil derived from them.
Peanut oil, as with other vegetable oils, can be used to make soap by the process of saponification. The oil is safe for use as a massage oil. Peanut researcher George Washington Carver marketed a peanut massage oil.
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