Peanuts nutrition facts
Delicious, crunchy, and nutty peanuts are one of the popular oil seeds known to humankind since ancient tims. The nuts are enriched with many noteworthy health-benefiting nutrients that are essential for optimum health. They are actually legumes but have almost all the qualities that true nuts like almonds have.
Botanically, the nuts are small size fruit pods of plant belonging to the fabaceae family of the genus Arachis. Some of common names are groundnut, earthnuts etc.
Scientific name: Arachis hypogaea.
Peanut is a small annual herb, believed to be originating in the Central Americas from where it spread to rest of the world through Spanish explorers. Today, the nuts are widely cultivated oil seeds and has established as prime commercial crop in China, India, African nations, and the United States of America.
After the seedling, the plant takes approximately 120 to 150 days to produce the crop. The process of peanut development is quite interesting! The yellow flowers, after self-pollination, develop in to "ovaries," called pedicels, which elongate rapidly to turn downward to bury several inches deep under the ground from where the fruits develop into peanut pods we know.
To harvest, the entire plant, including roots, is dug out from the soil. Each plant may bear 10-150 fruit pods. The pods have wrinkled shells that are constricted between pairs of the two to four seeds per pod. Each seed is covered with thin brown color cover and can be split in to two halves as in any other legumes.
Bambara groundnuts (Vigna subterranea L. Verdc) are different from American groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea) in that they appear somewhat like round cowpeas. Bambara groundnuts are indeed one of the popular legume crops in many African regions, providing much needed protein, fat and other essential nutrients of vegetable origin.
Health benefits of Peanuts
Peanuts are rich in energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
They are especially, rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acids that help to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol". Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
These nuts are 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 in p-coumaric acid, which is believed to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Peanuts are excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenol antioxidant, which has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease, and viral/fungal infections.
Studies suggests that resveratrol reduces stroke risk by alteration of molecular mechanisms in 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 A and 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 of niacin, 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.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||49.24 g||165%|
|Dietary Fiber||8.5 g||22%|
|Pantothenic acid||1.767 mg||35%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin E||8.33 mg||55.5%|
Selection and storage
Peanuts are available in the markets year around. In the store, different forms; shelled, unshelled, salted, sweetened etc are available. Try to buy unshelled (intact outer cover) nuts instead of processed ones. They are generally available in the airtight packs as well as in bulk bins. The pods should feature compact, off white color, healthy-looking shell, uniform in size, and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks, mold, and spots and free of rancid smell.
Unshelled groundnuts can be placed in cool dry place for many months, whereas shelled (without the shell) nuts should be placed inside airtight container and kept in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.
Preparation and serving methods
Peanut is usually eaten as it is, by cracking them with firm pressure between fingers or using clippers, or nutcracker machine. The nuts can also be enjoyed roasted, boiled, salted, or sweetened.
They are nutty, yet pleasantly sweet in taste. Roasting enhances taste, augments antioxidants levels like p-coumaric acid, and helps remove toxic aflatoxin.
Boiled peanuts possess unique flavor and taste. Boiling, in fact, enriches their nutritional and antioxidants profile.
Peanut butter is a food paste made from ground-roasted nuts, with or without added oil. It is popular throughout the world and commonly used as spread. Peanut-milk is also a popular lactose-free milk like healthy drink.
Peanut oil is another healthy source of edible cooking oil like soy or olive oils. It is widely used in cooking for its aromatic flavor, especially in many South Indian states and Sri Lanka.
Roasted and crushed nuts often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based preparations.
Peanut “chutney” or paste, made from these nuts, chili peppers, salt, coriander leaves, garlic and mustard seeds, is a popular preparation among south Indian, Sri Lanka region.
- Roasted and split nuts are a great addition onto tossed salads.
Share this article