The Peanut and its Benefit to Human Health
Sitting in the stands, soaking up the sun at a baseball game is the perfect place to crack open and enjoy a bag of peanuts. Cracking open the shell is part of the fun of eating the ever so popular peanut. Tossing the two nuts into your mouth and hearing that crunch and tasting that salty, nutty flavor is like a homerun for your taste buds. Humans are discovering new foods that are beneficial to the body, a diet rich in peanuts can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce the body’s cholesterol, and even protect against cancer; overall making the peanut a healthy choice to add to one’s every day nutritional choices. The peanut, scientifically called Arachis hypogaea, is a thriving plant all across the globe today. They are native to Brazil and need hot temperatures to grow to its full potential. Arachis hypogea belong to the Legume (Fabaceae) family and originated in South American about 3,500 years ago where it was consumed mostly by the Incans (Higgs 2003). They are found to grow well in South America and continents between latitudes 40 degrees north and 40 degrees south, the largest producers being China, India, and then the United States. They were first brought to North America from Africa aboard slave trade boats where it experienced expanding popularity. The peanut is seen to do very well in international trade, most of the output coming from the United States, China, and Argentina. They are grown all throughout the world today from India, to Vietnam, to some countries in Africa. Peanuts are easy to grow and don’t go bad for a long time. It’s also shown that the peanuts are a staple food in the UK, with people consuming 10-22 grams of it per week. But the USA has shown to consume much more than Europe, just over 76 grams per week (Higgs 2003). It is the only legume that grows underground and is composed of a single seed-bearing pod that splits open along two seams. The fertile blossoms of the peanut plant bend over and penetrate the soil where they grow into the peanut we eat today. The majority of plants and all species apart of the Legume family require nitrogen to grow. The peanut root has its own system on gathering the necessary nitrogen. Nitrogen fixing bacteria enter the root of the plant, converting inert atmospheric nitrogen into a useable form to be consumed. The peanut is one of the most versatile plants around is mainly used for direct consumption, in the confectionary industry, for vegetable oil in cooking and also as a source for protein feed in the animal industry (Varshney 2011). The nuts can be roasted or left raw to be consumed. The oil can be extracted and added to supplements for an added protein boost. And most popular, the nuts can be crushed and made into peanut butter or other products. Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, reminding them of the good old day of being a kid? Many people may shy away from eating peanuts and other products derived from peanuts because they are seen to have extra fat content. But in reality the peanut is a healthy choice for an every day snack or just something to add to one’s everyday meal choice. The peanut contains vitamin E, calcium, zinc, and iron that are essential to human health (Varshney 2011). People trying to lose weight, vegetarians, and the average human can all benefit from eating the ever so popular peanut. There has been a ton of research done all around the world about the benefits of certain foods. In addition to being a kid’s favorite spread in a sandwich, peanuts pack a major nutritious punch and offer many health benefits to the human body. Peanuts have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and have been known to lower cholesterol, which can relate to keeping one at a healthy weight. Adding peanuts to the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can keep you heart healthy and physically satisfied. They are a rich...
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