What Is A Peanut

by Raksha Hegde last updated -

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You can’t eat just one – we are talking about the humble peanut. You can have it roasted, salted, spiced, or bite into a good, old peanut butter sandwich or a warm, gooey cookie. Peanuts can be enjoyed in several ways across the world unless you have an allergy to it. So let’s find out more about this popular food.

Is a Peanut a Nut?

Peanut, often mistaken for a nut, are the edible seeds of a legume that is closely related to the pea family (Fabaceae). Peanuts ripen underground and absorb nutrients from the soil, which is why they are often called groundnuts. Other popular names for these seeds include goober or monkey nut. The seeds are rich in protein, oils, and fiber, according to the Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention. 

Unshelled peanuts on a brown log and cloth alongside a brass bowl of shelled, raw peanuts

Peanuts Nutrition

There are 414 calories and 19 grams of protein in 1/2 a cup of raw peanuts, as per the USDA National Nutrient Database. It is a top source of plant-based protein, making it a favorite among vegans and vegetarians. Also, this popular snack is a low-carb food and ranks low in the glycemic index, making it suitable for people who are trying to lose weight, are on the keto diet, as well as diabetics. This underground seed is also high in mono and polyunsaturated fats, most of which are heart-healthy oleic acids. It is also a good source of folate.

Different Ways to Use Peanuts

Peanuts are used in a number of ways in food products. Let us look at the most popular products:

  • Peanut butter: This famous nut butter is made by grinding dry roasted peanuts. According to the US National Peanut Board, almost 94 percent of American homes have at least one jar of peanut butter in the pantry! It is traditionally used as a spread but now, the butter is used to make candy, cookies, granola bars, baked products, sauces, dips, and in savory soups too.
  • Peanut oil: This oil, derived from raw peanuts, has a high smoking point and is used in frying and cooking. You can get different varieties like cold-pressed or extra virgin or refined peanut oil.
  • Dry, roasted peanuts: Peanuts can be dry roasted in their shells or salted and eaten as a snack.
  • Boiled peanuts: Peanuts in their shell, boiled in brine water, are a popular snack in the US, India, China, and Africa.
  • Peanut flour: This flour is made from crushed, fully or partially defatted peanuts. It is a gluten-free, protein-dense option for flour and can be used to make powdered peanut butter, baking, and cooking.
  • Peanut milk: It is delicious, nutty milk that is dairy-free made with overnight-soaked peanuts and water.

By-products of peanuts such as the meal and skins are used as animal feed for cattle and hens. According to a report published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the shells can be used in the manufacture of plastic, fuel, cellulose, and glue.

Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergy is one of the most common allergies, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. They can be life-threatening to a person and can cause anaphylaxisSometimes, children with a peanut allergy can suffer even if they come in contact with peanuts and rub their eyes or face. It is best to consult a doctor on how to deal with the allergy as well as to read food labels carefully. A study published in the Lancet journal says that those patients should have an emergency plan in hand that includes epinephrine, a synthetic form of adrenalin, and antihistamines. Clinical trials are ongoing for solutions like a peanut allergy patch as well as oral treatments.

Peanuts, if not stored properly, can get a mold that can cause aflatoxin. This can result in severe life-threatening conditions like hepatitis or other liver problems. The mold contamination happens especially in warm climatic regions and can be avoided if the food products are stored properly. 

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About the Author

As a content writer for Organic Facts, it’s no surprise that Raksha Hegde loves writing and is passionate about wellness. She’s been a television reporter, a news producer, a yoga teacher, and a wellness festival curator. She’s studied journalism at Boston University and now works in her favorite city, Mumbai. When not working, you can find her doing Yoga or Instagramming.

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