The peanut, also known as the groundnut or the goober and taxonomically classified as Arachis hypogaea, is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both small and large commercial producers. It is classified as both a grain legume and, because of its high oil content, an oil crop. World annual production of shelled peanuts was 42 million tonnes in 2014. Atypically among crop plants, peanut pods develop underground rather than aboveground. It is this characteristic that the botanist Linnaeus used to assign the specific name hypogaea, which means “under the earth.”
As a legume, the peanut belongs to the botanical family Fabaceae; this is also known as Leguminosae, and commonly known as the bean, or pea, family. Like most other legumes, peanuts harbor symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules.This capacity to fix nitrogen means peanuts require less nitrogen-containing fertilizer and also improve soil fertility, making them valuable in crop rotations.
Peanuts are similar in taste and nutritional profile to tree nuts such as walnuts and almonds, and as a culinary nut are often served in similar ways in Western cuisines. The botanical definition of a “nut” is a fruit whose ovary wall becomes very hard at maturity. Using this criterion, the peanut is not a true nut, but rather a legume. However, for culinary purposes and in common English language usage, peanuts are usually referred to as nuts.
Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavor and a relatively high smoke point. Due to its high monounsaturated content, it is considered more healthful than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. The several types of peanut oil include: aromatic roasted peanut oil, refined peanut oil, extra virgin or cold-pressed peanut oil, and peanut extract. In the United States, refined peanut oil is exempt from allergen labeling laws.
Peanut butter is a food paste or spread made from ground dry roasted peanuts. It often contains additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture, such as salt, sweeteners or emulsifiers. Peanut butter is served as a spread on bread, toast or crackers, and used to make sandwiches (notably the peanut butter and jelly sandwich). It is also used in a number of confections, such as peanut-flavored granola bars or croissants and other pastries. The United States is a leading exporter of peanut butter and itself consumes $800 million of peanut butter annually.
Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the southern United States, as well as in India, China, and West Africa. In the US South, boiled peanuts are often prepared in briny water, and sold in street side stands.
Dry peanuts can be roasted in the shell or shelled in a home oven if spread out one layer deep in a pan and baked at a temperature of 350 °F or 177 °C for 15 to 20 min (shelled) and 20 to 25 min (in shell).
Peanut flour is used as a gluten-free solution.
Those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease must maintain a gluten-free diet. More than two million people in the United States have the disease, or about one in 133 people. Others may choose to go gluten-free in order to manage a sensitivity or in an effort to be healthier. There is no evidence that suggests that gluten is unsafe for anyone who does not suffer from celiac disease or allergy or intolerance.
Living gluten-free can be a challenge. It’s important to know that peanuts, peanut butter, peanut flour and peanut oil are considered naturally gluten-free foods. Gluten is a form of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It causes intestinal damage in those with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease and is found in wheat, barley and rye – so they and anything made from them must be strictly avoided. This makes enjoying conventionally prepared baked goods, many sauces, and even ice cream a challenge.
Like peanuts and peanut butter, the uses are endless for defatted peanut flour. Whether you’re dredging chicken for a crispy coating or ramping up a smoothie or soup with a protein boost; peanut flour is a great way to add flavor, texture and nutrients to any recipe. Plus, when mixed with rice or tapioca flour, peanut flour can be a perfect solution for baking cookies, breads, waffles or even dumplings.
Peanut flour not only adds flavor to a dish, it also adds important nutrients that people on a gluten-free diet need. “Grains are an important part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals and are naturally low in fat. Because people with celiac disease must avoid gluten… it can be a challenge to get enough grains.2”
Peanut products like defatted peanut flour offer a variety of nutrients also found in grains. Peanut flour is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of folate, magnesium, copper and phosphorus, and an excellent source of niacin, and manganese. Regardless of how you incorporate peanut flour, it is a nutrient-dense food that is a great addition to a nutritious diet.
Cultivated peanut (A. hypogaea) arose from a hybrid between two wild species of peanut, thought to be A. duranensis and A. ipaensis. The initial hybrid would have been sterile, but spontaneous chromosome doubling restored its fertility,forming what is termed an amphidiploid or allotetraploid. Genetic analysis suggests the hybridization event probably occurred only once and gave rise to A. monticola, a wild form of peanut that occurs in a few restricted locations in northwestern Argentina, and by artificial selection to A. hypogaea. The process of domestication through artificial selection made A. hypogaea dramatically different from its wild relatives. The domesticated plants are bushier and more compact, and have a different pod structure and larger seeds. The initial domestication may have taken place in northwestern Argentina, or in southeastern Bolivia, where the peanut landraces with the most wild-like features are grown today. From this primary center of origin, cultivation spread and formed secondary and tertiary centers of diversity in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Over time, thousands of peanut landraces evolved; these are classified into six botanical varieties and two subspecies (as listed in the peanut scientific classification table). Subspecies A. h. fastigiata types are more upright in their growth habit and have shorter crop cycles. Subspecies A. h. hypogaea types spread more on the ground and have longer crop cycles.
The oldest known archeological remains of pods have been dated at about 7,600 years old. These may be pods from a wild species that was in cultivation, or A. hypogaea in the early phase of domestication. They were found in Peru, where dry climatic conditions are favorable to the preservation of organic material. Almost certainly, peanut cultivation antedated this at the center of origin where the climate is moister. Many pre-Columbian cultures, such as the Moche, depicted peanuts in their art. Cultivation was well established in Mesoamerica before the Spanish arrived. There, the conquistadors found the tlalcacahuatl (the plant’s Nahuatl name, whence Mexican Spanish cacahuate, Castillian Spanish cacahuete, and French cacahuète) being offered for sale in the marketplace of Tenochtitlan. The peanut was later spread worldwide by European traders, and cultivation is now very widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. In West Africa, it substantially replaced a crop plant from the same family, the Bambara groundnut, whose seed pods also develop underground. In Asia, it became an agricultural mainstay and this region is now the largest producer in the world.
In the English-speaking world, peanut growing is most important in the United States. Although it was mainly a garden crop for much of the colonial period, it was mostly used as animal feed stock until the 1930s. The US Department of Agriculture initiated a program to encourage agricultural production and human consumption of peanuts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. George Washington Carver developed hundreds of recipes for peanuts during his tenure in the program.
29 Amazing Benefits
Rich in Energy
Peanuts contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and anti-oxidants and thus are rich energy sources.
It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the body . Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid that prevents coronary diseases.
Peanuts are rich in proteins. The amino acids present in them are good for proper growth and development of body.
Fights Stomach Cancer
Poly-phenolic anti-oxidants are present in the peanuts in high concentrations. P-Coumaric acid has the ability to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the productions of carcinogenic nitrous-amines.
Fights against Heart Diseases, Nerves Diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Infections
A poly-phenolic anti-oxidant, Resveratrol present in peanuts prevents heart diseases, cancers, nervous diseases and viral or fungal infections efficiently.
Reduces the Chances of Stroke:
The anti-oxidant, Resveratrol in peanuts prevents heart strokes by increasing the production of nitric oxide.
Peanuts contain anti-oxidants in high concentrations. These anti-oxidants become more active when peanuts are boiled. There is a 2-fold increase in Biochanin-A and 4-fold increase in Genistein content. These reduce the damage done by free radicals produced in the body.
Vitamin E in peanuts helps in maintaining the integrity of cells of mucous membrane and the skin. This protects them from free radicals which cause great damage.
Peanuts contain B complex, vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, pantothenic acid etc.
Potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc are some of the minerals present in peanuts. These play an important role in many different body functions.
Just an ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter each week can save you from gall stones or gallbladder diseases with 25% reduced risk. This amazing health benefit of peanuts keeps all the diseases at bay.
Low Risk of Weight Gain
Women who eat peanuts or peanut butter at least twice a week are less likely to be susceptible to obesity than those who don’t. If you eat peanut butter every morning with bread slices, you have less chances of gaining weight.
Peanuts can reduce colon cancer especially in women. Eating at least 2 spoons of peanut butter twice a week can reduce the risk of colon cancer in women by up to 58% and in men by up to 27%. This is one of the best benefits of peanuts for women.
Helps in Fertility
If taken before and during early pregnancy, the folic acid lowers the risk of baby being born with serious neural tube defects reduced by up to 70%.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Manganese in peanuts helps in calcium absorption, fats and carbohydrates metabolism and sugar level regulation in blood.
Low Serotonin levels leads to depression. Tryptophan in peanuts increases the release of this chemical and thus helps you fight depression.
Benefits Of Skin
- The anti-inflammatory properties of peanuts treat skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. The fatty acids present in peanuts also reduce swelling and skin redness. Peanuts contain Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium, which keeps the skin glowing from within and fights the bacteria that lead to acne. The protein content in peanuts also helps with cell regeneration.
- Peanuts contain a relatively good amount of fatty acids which is believed to be critical to the brain’s nerve cells. This brain friendly cell helps with stress management and mood swings to prevent various skin disorders like wrinkles, fine line and dullness.
- Fiber in nuts is essential for the elimination of toxins and waste. Toxins inside the body reflect on our outside appearance, causing breakout, dullness and excess oil. Eating peanuts regularly helps flush out excess toxins from the body to give you a healthy skin.
- Peanut is loaded with magnesium which calms our nerve, muscles and blood vessels to provide better blood flow to the skin. This, in turn, gives you a youthful and healthy skin.
- Skin damage occurs as a result of oxidation, a chemical process in which unstable molecules called free radicals steal electrons from healthy cells. Vitamin E in peanuts defends our skin’s cells against the damage of oxidative stress. It guards our skin from the harsh UV rays of the sun to protect against sun burn and skin damage .
- Signs of ageing like wrinkles, discoloration and decreased elasticity are one of our biggest beauty concerns. Peanut contains significant amount of Vitamin C which is required for the production of collagen. Collagen is required to sustain tendons, skin and cartilage. It provides firmness and elasticity to the skin to keep it young and supple.
- Beta carotene, an antioxidant found in peanuts is very critical for skin’s health. It is converted into Vitamin A in the body which helps in the growth and repair of body tissues. Thus peanuts help to heal wounds and bruises at a faster pace.
- Peanuts are packed with omega 3 fatty acids which help our skin in many ways . Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body to prevent skin eruptions. It lowers the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer. It also moisturizes and hydrates the skin from within to treat dry and scaly skin.
- Peanuts are very effective for treating skin problems like pustules, skin rashes and rosacea.
- Peanut butter facial mask is gaining immense popularity these days. Applying natural peanut butter on the face clears away the dirt and impurities to give you a healthy looking skin. Wash your face with a cleanser and then apply peanut butter on your entire face. Allow the mask to dry and then wash it off by massaging your skin slowly in circular motions. Rinse your face with warm water and pat dry. Do a patch test first and then apply it to the entire face as allergic reactions are very common side effects of peanuts. Those who are allergic to peanuts should stay away from it.
Benefits Of Hair:
- Peanuts contain several hair friendly nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy hair. It contains a high level of omega 3 fatty acids which strengthens scalp health and hair follicles to promote hair growth.
- Peanut is an excellent source of larginine, an amino acid which is very helpful for treating male pattern baldness and to encourage the growth of healthy hair. It also improves the health of artery walls and prevents blood clotting to improve blood flow. A proper blood flow throughout the body and hair is imperative to get healthy and strong hair.
- Deficiency in vitamin E can lead to brittle and weak hair which can easily break. Including proper level of vitamin E in your diet ensures that the hair roots receive a rich supply of hair healthy vitamins to keep them strong and healthy.