Today, let’s figure out how to eat peanuts correctly to get maximum benefits and reduce risks. And the most important thing is whether the peanut is a nut or a legume.
Is a peanut a nut or a legume?
The fruit of a peanut is precisely a bean or leguminous grass, but not a nut, as many people who are far from botany believe. Since peanuts belong to the legume family, this plant is closer in class to soybeans and lentils. Peanuts are sometimes called groundnuts.
Why was this definition assigned to the American plant? It is explained by the method of extraction. Peanuts are literally pulled from the depths of the earth. The main distribution area is the continent of South America. It first became known several centuries ago, and the Spaniards first brought peanut nuts or beans to Europe.
Another colonialists, the Portuguese, spread peanuts to Africa and North America. The first peanut butter appeared around the 14th century. The Aztecs made it by frying and grinding the fruits.
Commercial success came to the fruits of the plant after it was brought to the United States. Agrochemists began to create a lot of different products based on it – not only food, but also cosmetics, household chemicals and printing ink.
Why are legumes confused with nuts?
The fruit type peanut is easily confused with tree nuts because it has all the characteristics of the latter. The bean has a distinct nutty flavor and grows in a shell.
But, having an idea of how the ripening process of peanuts occurs, it is easy to distinguish them from nuts. This legume does not grow on a tree like a typical nut and has a different structure and composition.
The nuts have more fat and remain whole during the ripening process. Peanuts have less fat but more protein and are crumbly. Also, any nut is rich in iron, which peanuts cannot be distinguished from.
Nut seeds are not attached to the wall of the ovary. Peanut bean seeds, on the other hand, are attached to the ovary wall of the pod. Nuts have no more than two seeds in one fruit. One peanut bean has more of these seeds.
Peanuts contain relatively few carbohydrates, the amount of proteins and fats is above average, so you should not abuse this product. Calorie content per 100 grams – 567 Kcal.
Peanuts are rich in vitamins and minerals. Some of them in 100 grams of beans exceed the daily intake.
Peanuts are considered a plant-based protein-rich product. 100 grams of product contains 26 grams. of these substances, which is 19 percent of the daily intake.
There are a lot of vegetable fats in peanuts – 45 percent per 100 grams of product. This volume is 74 percent of the average fat intake for one day.
There are few carbohydrates in peanuts – only 10 percent per 100 grams of product. Such a serving of peanuts will cover only 7 percent of a person’s daily carbohydrate needs.
Vitamins and minerals
Main elements and their content in 100 grams of groundnuts:
- Water – 6.5 percent;
- Sugar – 4.7 percent;
- Fiber – 8.5 percent;
- B vitamins;
- Vitamin E;
- Vitamin H;
- Vitamin PP;
The listed vitamins and minerals are contained in 100 grams of product in volumes from 10 to 260 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Benefits of peanuts
The minerals and vitamins found in large quantities in peanuts are important for heart nutrition. They strengthen it, reduce the risk of ischemic pathologies, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke.
In addition, peanuts can help prevent lung diseases, diabetes, and kidney diseases. Peanut beans are a good, practical source of plant-based protein. It will be an excellent replacement for animal protein in the diet of vegetarians.
And for people involved in strength sports and leading an active lifestyle, groundnut fruits are an ideal additional source of nutrition and muscle recovery after training.
Proteins are involved in thousands of biochemical reactions at the cellular level and the production of antibodies, are building materials for muscles, and nourish skin cells.
Peanuts contain antioxidants that stop the development of certain heart diseases and malignant tumors. These beans have almost as many antioxidants as most natural fruits.
The most important of them is polyphenol. Its volume increases in fried product by 25 percent. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system, helps the body maintain a normal state in case of hypertension and vascular diseases.
Peanuts can be eaten by people suffering from the effects of diabetes at any stage of the disease. This plant has a minimal glycemic index (15), and magnesium helps the body control sugar levels and properly absorb glucose.
Peanuts for weight loss
Groundnuts are considered a high-calorie food, but they help people lose weight. Eating these legumes does not contribute to weight gain, since they do not contain enough carbohydrates for this.
In addition, peanuts help the body burn excess calories. The product contains insoluble dietary fiber and fiber that bind and remove excess fluid from the intestines. Enzymes speed up the digestion process.
Unsaturated acids reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol in the body, its excess is not deposited in the blood vessels. But during the period of losing weight, you need to remember the high calorie content and not overuse peanuts. Just 100 grams of product contains about 500-600 kcal.
During weight loss, the daily weight loss rate for a person who does not add physical activity to the diet is from 1200 to 1800 kcal.
Peanuts are comparable in caloric content to real nuts and are considered a difficult food to digest. Nutritionists advise that a child under 12 years of age should eat a handful of nuts, no more than 10 pieces, per day.
An overdose may cause side effects. Allergens accumulate in the body and create conditions for an appropriate reaction of the immune system. Not everyone develops an allergy, but it is severe and, in some cases, can result in death.
There may be complications of some chronic diseases from excessive or frequent consumption of peanuts. For example, this is a vascular aneurysm or varicose veins.
Another common side effect is swelling. People suffering from this problem may experience it due to the high fat content of peanuts.
Use in cooking
Peanut fruits are widely used in modern culinary art. A wide selection of dishes with peanuts in Asian cuisine. Crushed peanuts are added to nut sauces for meat and vegetable snacks.
The mass consumer is more accustomed to seeing peanuts in confectionery products. Usually these are cakes, rolls, chocolate bars, pastes, halva.
Peanuts are also common as a separate product in the form of a healthy snack or treat. In stores it is sold fried, dried and raw with the addition of salt, spices, sugar, glaze, along with dried fruits, as part of ready-made breakfasts.
And of course, the famous peanut butter, so beloved by children, is made from it.
How to select and store
Peanuts are sold in bulk and packaged in grocery stores and supermarkets. The sales format does not affect the quality, but it is preferable to buy peanuts in bulk or in transparent packaging. This way you can evaluate what the fruit of a peanut looks like.
Raw peanuts should be light brown in color, free from stains or damage to the surface, and free from signs of mold and an unpleasant odor. It is better to store this product in a glass or ceramic container with the ability to tightly close it with a lid.
The tightness will protect the peanuts from moisture and the development of mold in the container. The storage location itself should be cool and dry. The approximate shelf life of peanuts in shell is 12 months. Without shell – half as much.