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Peanut

Item Description

The peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume or "bean" family (Fabaceae). The peanut was probably first domesticated and cultivated in the valleys of Paraguay.[1] It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm (1.0 to 1.6 ft) tall. Theleaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet is 1 to 7 cm (⅜ to 2¾ in) long and 1 to 3 cm (⅜ to 1 inch) broad.

The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm (0.8 to 1.6 in) (¾ to 1½ in) across, yellow with reddish veining. Hypogaea means "under the earth"; after pollination, the flower stalk elongates causing it to bend until the ovary touches the ground. Continued stalk growth then pushes the ovary underground where the mature fruit develops into a legume pod, the peanut – a classical example of geocarpy. Pods are 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, containing 1 to 4 seeds.

Peanuts are known by many other local names such as earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts Despite its name and appearance, the peanut is not a nut, but rather a legume.

Uses

Peanuts have many uses. They can be eaten raw, used in recipes, made into solvents and oils, medicines, textile materials, and peanut butter, as well as many other uses. Popular confections made from peanuts include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, peanut candy bars, peanut butter cookies, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail-size plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their relative cost compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. Although peanut butter has been a tradition on camping trips and the like because of its high protein content and because it resists spoiling for long periods of time, the primary use of peanut butter is in the home. Large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, candy, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and often eaten as a snack. More recently, fried peanut recipes have emerged – allowing both shell and nut to be eaten. Peanuts are also used in a wide variety of other areas, such as cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints.

Health benefits of Peanuts

  • >>   Peanuts are rich in energy and contain health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
  • >>   They compose sufficient levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid. It helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good cholesterol” level in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
  • >>   These nuts are a good source of dietary protein compose fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth and development.
  • >>   Research studies have shown that peanuts contain high concentrations of poly-phenolic antioxidants, primarily p-coumaric acid. This compound has been thought to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by limiting the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach.
  • >>   Peanuts are an excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenolic antioxidant. Resveratrol has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease, and viral/fungal infections.
  • >>   Furthermore, studies suggest that resveratrol reduce stroke risk by altering molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels (reducing susceptibility to vascular damage through decreased activity of angiotensin, a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure), and by increasing production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.
  • >>   Recent research studies suggest that boiling enhances antioxidant concentration in the peanuts. It has been found that boiled peanuts have two and four-fold increase in isoflavone antioxidants biochanin-Aand genistein content, respectively. (Journal of agricultural and food chemistry
  • >>   The nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (a-tocopherol); containing about 8 g per100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant which helps maintain the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen free radicals.
  • >>   The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. 100 g of peanuts provide about 85% of RDI ofniacin, which contribute to brain health and blood flow to brain.
  • >>   The nuts are rich source of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Just a hand full of peanuts per day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.