Peanut as most of us do not know came from a legume family (and not in the nut family) just like a bean or pea. The nuts originate from the stems, but are pushed into the ground by the plant at an early stage, and it is underground that they mature. The peanut plant can grow to about 30 to 50 cm (1 to 1½ ft) tall.
Peanut originates from semi-arid areas of Brazil while India, tropical Africa, and China are the leading peanut producing countries.
Peanut Products: Because of their high protein content and chemical profile, peanuts are processed into a variety of different forms, including peanut butter, oil, flour, and flakes.
Peanut Varieties: While there are many varieties of peanuts, the ones most commonly found in the marketplace are the Virginia, Spanish, Valencia and Runner.
- The round Spanish peanut has a full rich taste, and is usually used for roasting.
- The Virginia peanut is larger and oblong, and is commonly sold in-shell. It has a more nutty flavor.
- The Valencia peanut has a very bright red skin and small kernels. This variety is very sweet and is sold roasted in the shell.
- The most common commercial variety is the red skin “jumbo runner,” over half of these peanuts are used in making peanut butter.
Peanut Health Benefits:
- Whole peanuts contains high amount of protein, which makes it a preferred diet for people engaged in body-building and those people who are weak and underweight. The raw peanut butter with crushed skin contains much higher amounts of nutrient than refined “nut-only” butter.
- Peanut is a good source of Coenzyme Q10 which protects the heart during the period of lack of oxygen, example high altitudes and clogged arteries.
- Peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid. Roasting peanuts increases its p-coumaric acid levels, boosting it overall antioxidant content by as much as 22%. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets.
- Unsalted peanuts are good for your arteries. One quarter cup of peanuts contain as much monunsaturated fat as a tablespoon of olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol.
- Peanuts’ high niacin content helps in the recovery of cell damage and provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive problem.
- Peanut contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Peanut contain iron which is essential for the correct functioning of red blood cells.
- Peanut is rich in calcium which helps promotes healthy bones.
- Peanut has higher bioflavonoid resveratrol content than grapes. This bioflavonoid is believed to improve blood flow in the brain by as much as 30%, thus greatly reducing the risk of stroke. Study showed that by adding even small amounts of peanut products to the diet can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 14%.
- Peanuts’ fiber content helps lower the risk of colon cancer, an ounce of peanuts contains 2 grams of fiber.
- Peanut helps to accelerate the growth of male and female hormones.
Peanut Nutrient Content: Per 100 gm.
- Vitamin B: Thiamine .30 mg.;
- Riboflavin .13 mg.;
- Niacin 16.2 mg.
- Vitamin E: 8 mg.
- Calcium: 74 mg.
- Iron: 1.9 mg.
- Phosphorus: 393 mg.
- Potassium: 337 mg.
- Fat: 44.2 gm.
- Carbohydrates: 23.6 gm.
- Protein: 26.9 gm.
- Calories: 559
Allergic Reactions to Peanuts: Though the allergy may last a lifetime, study indicates that 23.3% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy. It is important to note that peanut is a member of the legume family and it is not related to nuts, individuals with peanut allergies may not be allergic to nuts and vice versa.
- Individuals with kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating peanuts, because peanuts contain measurable amounts of oxalates, a naturally occurring substance found in plants, animals and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems.
- Individuals with thyroid problems may need to avoid peanuts because peanuts contains goitrogens, a naturally occurring substance in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Although cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food, but it is not clear from the study how percentage of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking.