Groundnuts: Nutrition and Groundnut Plant

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Description
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The groundnut belongs to the pea and bean family and is a legume. But it is considered as nut because of its high nutritional value. That is how it is used in family meals and snacks.

The groundnut is the only nut that grows below the earth. The groundnut plant is a variable annual herb, which grows upto 50 cm. in height. The flowers of the plant develop a stalk which enters into the soil, forms a pod containing generally two seeds. They become mature in about two months, when the leaves of the plant turn yellow. The plant is then removed from the earth and allowed to dry. After three to six weeks they are separated from the plant.

Origin and Distribution
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The groundnut is a native of South America, where it has been cultivated for several centuries. It has been found in the excavations dated 1,000 BC in coastal Peru. In the l6 th century, the Portuguese took it from Brazil to West Africa and Spaniards took it across the Pacific to the Philippines. From there, it spread to China, Japan, Malaysia and India and as far as Madagascar. India leads the world in groundnut production and about 40 per cent of the groundnut entering the world commerce is from India.

Food Value
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The groundnut is particularly valued for its protein contents, which is of high biological value. Kg. for Kg., groundnuts contain more protein than meat-about two and a half times more than eggs, and far more than any other vegetable food except soybean and yeast. The proteins in groundnut are well balanced, except for slight deficiency in some of the essential amino acids. As it happens, these amino acids are, abundant in milk which can be combined with groundnut products for better results.

For proper digestion, groundnut requires thorough mastica­tion. Experiments made with the groundnut show that it is quite indigestible unless chewed to a smooth paste. This difficulty is obviated by roasting them. The baked raw...
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