The peanut is not actually a nut; it is a legume along with its cousins beans and peas, all belonging to the Leguminosae family. Legumes are edible seeds enclosed in pods. Peanuts grow underground, unlike "tree nuts" such as walnuts, almonds and pistachios. They start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground. The flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut actually matures.
Scientists at the University of Florida found that peanuts rival fruits in their levels of antioxidants. The Florida researchers identified high concentrations of polyphenols, particularly p-coumaric acid in peanuts. Roasting can increase the level of polyphenols, boosting overall antioxidant content by as much as twenty-two percent. Peanuts are an excellent source of beta-sitosterol, known to have anti-cancer properties. They are also a good source of monounsaturated fat and resveratrol, both associated with helping to fight heart disease.
A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that regular consumption of peanuts improved diet quality by increasing nutrients associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Another study found that eating peanuts five times a week reduced the risk of a heart attack, helped reduce inflammation in the body and boosted the health of blood vessels around the heart.
One study found that people who regularly ate nuts were much less likely to gain weight than those who did not, and a USDA survey found that peanut eaters were better able to meet their needs for Vitamin A and E, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and fiber. The participants in the survey had lower BMIs (Body Mass Index - a measurement used to determine obesity) than non-peanut eaters.
Tips for Using Peanuts
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