, or groundnut
, is a species in the legume or "bean" family.
The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm across, yellow with reddish veining. The specific name, 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 long, containing 1 to 4 seeds.
Peanuts can be eaten raw, used in recipes, made into oils, textile materials, and peanut butter, as well as many other uses. In general, peanut products are considered safe for human use, although there are insufficient studies about peanut aflatoxins and uses for cosmetics.
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 others. Peanut butter has been a tradition on camping trips and the home due to its high protein content and resists spoiling. 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 cosmetics, plastics, dyes and paints.
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 healthier than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. There are several types of peanut oil including: 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 flour is lower in fat than peanut butter, and is popular with chefs because its high protein content makes it suitable as a flavor enhancer. Peanut flour is used as a gluten-free solution.
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 briney water, and sold in streetside stands.
Dry roasted peanuts:
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.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.
Peanuts are rich in nutrients, providing over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. Peanuts are a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus. They also are naturally free of trans-fats and sodium, and contain about 25% protein. Peanuts are a good source of niacin, and thus contribute to brain health and blood flow. Recent research on peanuts has found antioxidants and other chemicals that may provide health benefits. New research shows peanuts rival the antioxidant content of many fruits. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than carrots or beets. Peanuts are a significant source of resveratrol, a chemical associated with but not proven to cause a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Health benefits of peanut:
Helps Promote Fertility (Folate): Peanuts contain a good amount of folate. Repeated studies have shown that women who had a daily intake of 400 micrograms of folic acid before and during early pregnancy reduced their risk of having a baby born with a serious neural tube defect by up to 70%.
Aids in Blood Sugar Regulation (Manganese): One fourth cup of peanuts can supply the body with 35% of the DV of manganese, a mineral which plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation.
Helps Prevent Gallstones: It may come as a surprise that peanuts can help prevent gallstones. But 20 years of studies have shown that eating 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter a week lowers the risk of developing gallstones by 25%.
Helps Fight Depression (Tryptophan): Peanuts are good sources of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which is important for the production of serotonin, one of the key brain chemicals involved in mood regulation. When depression occurs, a decreased amount of serotonin may be released from the nerve cells in the brain. Tryptophan may raise serotonin’s antidepressant effects when there is an increased amount of serotonin in the blood.
Boosts Memory Power (Vitamin B3):This is due to their vitamin B3 or niacin content whose many health benefits include normal brain functioning and boosting memory power.
Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels (Copper): The same nutrient which gives peanuts their memory enhancing power also helps lower and control cholesterol levels. Added to that is their copper contents which aids in reducing bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels.
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease: Numerous studies have shown that regular nuts consumption is linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Peanuts are rich in heart-friendly monounsaturated fats and antioxidants such as oleic acid. Reach for a handful of peanuts and other nuts at least four times a week to reduce your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.
Protects Against Age-related Cognitive Decline (Vitamin B2): Study participants have shown that those who have an intake of the most niacin-rich foods like peanuts were 70% less likely to have developed Alzheimer’s disease. A quarter cup a day of peanuts can already supply almost a quarter of the daily needed value for niacin.
Cancer Protection: A form of phytosterol called beta-sitoserol is found in high concentrations in some plant oils, seeds, and legumes including peanuts. Phytosterols not only protects against cardiovascular disease by interfering with the absorption of cholesterol, they also protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth.
Lowers Risk of Weight Gain: Eating nuts regularly is associated with a lowered risk of weight gain. Research has shown that people who eat nuts at least twice weekly are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat them.
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Recipe using Peanut see Here, Here and Here and Here.