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Peanut

 

The peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume family (Fabaceae) native to South America, Mexico and Central America.[1] It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm (1 to 1.5 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet 1 to 7 cm (⅜ to 2¾ in) long and 1 to 3 cm (⅜ to 1 inch) broad. The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm (¾ to 1½ in) across, yellow with reddish veining. After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 3 to 7 cm (1 to 2 in) long, containing 1 to 4 seeds, which forces its way underground to mature.

Peanuts are known by many local names, including earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas and monkey nuts; the last of these is often used to mean the entire pod.[2]

 

Cultivation in China

Recently harvested peanut plants stacked by a village house near Wuhan

The peanut was introduced to China by Portuguese traders in the 1600s and another variety by American missionaries in the 1800s. They became popular and are featured in many Chinese dishes, often being boiled. During the 1980s peanut production began to increase greatly so that as of 2006 China was the world's largest peanut producer. A major factor in this increase has been China's move away from a communist economic system toward a free market system so that farmers are free to grow and market their crops as they decide.[7][8]

Production

China leads in production of peanuts having a share of about 37.5% of overall world production, followed by India (roughly 19%) and Nigeria (roughly 11%).

 

Top ten producers of peanuts (with shell)

Country

Production (tonnes)

Footnote

 People's Republic of China

13,090,000

 

 India

6,600,000

*

 Nigeria

3,835,600

F

 United States

1,696,728

 

 Indonesia

1,475,000

 

 Myanmar

1,000,000

F

 Argentina

714,286

 

 Vietnam

490,000

F

 Sudan

460,000

*

 Chad

450,000

*

 World

34,856,007

 

 

 

Spanish group

The small Spanish types are grown in South Africa, and in the southwestern and southeastern U.S. Prior to 1940, 90% of the peanuts grown in Georgia, USA were Spanish types, but the trend since then has been larger seeded, higher yielding, more disease resistant cultivars. Spanish peanuts have a higher oil content than other types of peanuts and in the U.S. are now primarily grown in Oklahoma and Texas.

Cultivars of the Spanish group include "Dixie Spanish", "Improved Spanish 2B", "GFA Spanish", "Argentine", "Spantex", "Spanette", "Shaffers Spanish", "Natal Common (Spanish)", "White Kernel Varieties", "Starr", "Comet", "Florispan", "Spanhoma", "Spancross", "OLin", "Tamspan 90", "AT 9899-14", "Spanco" "Wilco I", "GG 2", "GG 4" and "TMV 2".

 

Runner group

Since 1940, the southeastern U.S. region has seen a shift to production of Runner group peanuts. This shift is due to good flavor, better roasting characteristics and higher yields when compared to Spanish types leading to food manufacturers' preference for use in peanut butter and salting. Georgia's production is now almost 100% Runner type.

Cultivars of Runners include "Southeastern Runner 56-15", "Dixie Runner", "Early Runner", "Virginia Bunch 67", "Bradford Runner", "Egyptian Giant" (also known as "Virginia Bunch" and "Giant"), "Rhodesian Spanish Bunch" (Valencia and Virginia Bunch), "North Carolina Runner 56-15", "Virugard", "Georgia Green", "Tamrun 96", "Flavor Runner 458", "Tamrun OL01", "Tamrun OL02" and "AT-108".

 

Virginia group

The large seeded Virginia Group peanuts are grown in the following US states: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and parts of Georgia. They are increasing in popularity due to demand for large peanuts for processing, particularly for salting, confections, and roasting in the shells.

Virginia Group peanuts are either bunch or running in growth habit. The bunch type is upright to spreading. It attains a height of 45 to 55 cm (18 to 22 inches), and a spread of 70 to 80 cm (28 to 30 in), with 80 to 90 cm (33 to 36 in) rows that seldom cover the ground. The pods are borne within 5 to 10 cm of the base of the plant.

Cultivars of Virginia type peanuts include NC 7, NC 9, NC 10C, NC-V 11, VA 93B, NC 12C, VA-C 92R, Gregory, VA 98R, Perry, Wilson, Hull, AT VC-2 and Shulamit.

 

Valencia group

Valencia Group peanuts are coarse, and they have heavy reddish stems and large foliage. In the U.S. large commercial production is primarily in Eastern New Mexico, especially in and around Portales, New Mexico, but they are grown on a small scale elsewhere in the South as the best flavored and preferred type for boiled peanuts. They are comparatively tall, having a height of 125 cm (50 inches) and a spread of 75 cm (30 inches). Peanut pods are borne on pegs arising from the main stem and the side branches. Most of the pods are clustered around the base of the plant, and only a few are found several inches away. Valencia types are three seeded and smooth, with no constriction between the seeds. Seeds are oval and tightly crowded into the pods. There are two strains, one with flesh and the other with red seeds. Typical seed weight is 0.4 to 0.5 g.

 

Tennessee Red and Tennessee White groups

These are alike, except for the color of the seed. The plants are similar to Valencia types, except that the stems are green to greenish brown, and the pods are rough, irregular, and have a smaller proportion of kernels.

 

Uses

Peanuts are found in a wide range of grocery products.

Edible peanuts account for two-thirds of the total peanut use in the United States. Popular confections include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, candy bars, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail size, plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted, salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. The primary use of peanut butter is in the home, but large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, candy, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and typically eaten as a snack in the southern United States where most peanuts are grown. More recently, peanuts can be fried, where they can be eaten both shell and nut. Also peanuts are used in cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints (See George Washington Carver).

Peanuts are common ingredients in Peruvian Creole cuisine reflecting the marriage of native ingredients and ingredients introduced by Europeans. In one example peanuts are roasted along with hot peppers (both native to South America) and blended with roasted onions, garlic, and oil (all of European origin) to make a smooth sauce poured over boiled potatoes. This dish is especially famous in the city of Arequipa and is known as "papas con ocopa". Another example combines a similar mixture with sautéed seafood or boiled and shredded chicken in the form of a fricassee. These dishes are generally known as "Ajis" such as "Aji de Pollo" "Aji de Mariscos". One may find that not all cooks use peanuts in seafood "ajis". The combination of ground roasted peanuts suggests some Moorish and Middle Eastern influence in modern Peruvian cuisine, presumably through the Spanish conquistadores. It is well documented that Arab cuisine makes extensive use of ground and pastes of almonds, pine nuts and other nuts combined with rice, meats and vegetables to arrive to dishes like Rice Pilaf. In the Levantine, traditional Arab, Catalan, and Basque cuisines there is also a wide use of ground nuts. Although the peanut is not a nut it may be argued that the Spanish used the peanut along with local Peruvian ingredients to emulate their ancestral cuisine in the absence of almonds and pine nuts. Peanuts are also widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly Indonesia, where it is typically made into a spicy sauce. Peanuts originally came to Indonesia from the Philippines, where the legume came from Mexico in times of Spanish colonization. Common Indonesian peanut-based dishes include gado-gado, pecel, karedok and ketoprak, all vegetable salads mixed with peanut sauce, and the peanut-based dipping sauce for satay. Boiled peanuts are a popular Chinese snack and appetizer. Peanuts are also used in the Mali meat stew maafe, and in many sauces for South American meat dishes, especially rabbit.

Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavor and burns at a relatively high temperature. Under the name Plumpy'nut 100 g (3.5 ounces), two small bags per day are given by the World Health Organization as a surviving base to many children in Africa. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their inexpensiveness compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. The U.S. airline industry used to be a relatively large purchaser of peanuts for serving during flights (6 million lb / 3 million kg annually) before the nuts were removed from flights by many airlines (largely due to allergy concerns, but also due to cost).[9]

Peanuts are also very widely sold for garden bird feeding. Low grade or culled peanuts not suitable for the edible market are used in the production of peanut oil, seed and feed, although some owners of pet hookbills avoid these kinds for that reason.

Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion of the oil is used in the manufacture of some textile fibers.

Peanut shells are put to use in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, and fuel. They are also used to make cellulose (used in rayon and paper) and mucilage (glue).

Peanut plant tops are used to make hay. The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is used as an animal feed and as a soil fertilizer. Peanuts can also be used like other legumes and grains to make a lactose-free milk-like beverage, Peanut milk

 

Nutritional value

Peanut, valencia, raw

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 570 kcal   2390 kJ

 

Carbohydrates    

21g

- Sugars  0.0 g

 

- Dietary fiber  9 g  

 

Fat

48g

- saturated  7 g

 

- monounsaturated  24 g  

 

- polyunsaturated  16 g  

 

Protein

25g

- Tryptophan  0.244 g

 

- Threonine  0.859 g

 

- Isoleucine  0.882 g

 

- Leucine  1.627 g

 

- Lysine  0.901 g

 

- Methionine  0.308 g

 

- Cystine  0.322 g

 

- Phenylalanine  1.300 g

 

- Tyrosine  1.020 g

 

- Valine  1.052 g

 

- Arginine  3.001 g

 

- Histidine  0.634 g

 

- Alanine  0.997 g

 

- Aspartic acid  3.060 g

 

- Glutamic acid  5.243 g

 

- Glycine  1.512 g

 

- Proline  1.107 g

 

- Serine  1.236 g

 

Water

4.26

Thiamine (Vit. B1)  0.6 mg  

46%

Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  0.3 mg  

20%

Niacin (Vit. B3)  12.9 mg  

86%

Pantothenic acid (B5)  1.8 mg 

36%

Vitamin B6  0.3 mg

23%

Folate (Vit. B9)  246 μg 

62%

Vitamin C  0.0 mg

0%

Calcium  62 mg

6%

Iron  2 mg

16%

Magnesium  184 mg

50%

Phosphorus  336 mg

48%

Potassium  332 mg  

7%

Zinc  3.3 mg

33%

 

Health Benefits

Peanuts are a rich source of protein (roughly 30 grams per cup after roasting). As with most legumes, its protein is relatively high in lysine and relatively low in methionine. An example of an extremely nutritious peanut-based food to restore health in starving-malnourished children is Plumpy'nut.

Peanut oil is a mainly monounsaturated fat (50%), much of which (97%) is oleic acid. Saturated fatty acids compose 13% of peanut fat, where palmitic acid is the most present (74%) followed by stearic acid (16%). Some say peanuts are an unbalanced source of fat because they have only trace amounts of required Omega-3 fats.[10]

Some brands of peanut butter are fortified with Omega-3 in the form of flaxseed oil to balance the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6.

 

Niacin

Peanuts are a good source of niacin and thus contribute to brain health, brain circulation and blood flow.[11]

Peanuts and Antioxidants

Recent research on peanuts and nuts in general has found antioxidants and other chemicals that may provide health benefits.[12] New research shows peanuts rival the antioxidant content of many fruits. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets. Research conducted by a team of University of Florida scientists, published in the journal Food Chemistry, shows that peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid, and that roasting can increase peanuts' p-coumaric acid levels, boosting their overall antioxidant content by as much as 22%.[13]

 

Peanuts as a source of resveratrol

Peanuts are a significant source of resveratrol, a chemical studied for potential anti-aging effects and also associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and reduced cancer risk. French researchers, Dr. Johan Auwerx and colleagues from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France, recently conducted an animal study to test the effects of high doses of resveratrol on exercise endurance in mice. The results, announced in November 2006, showed that the mice treated with resveratrol were found to have energy-charged muscles and a lower heart rate, much like trained athletes — they could run twice as far as the mice that were not supplemented. Dr. Auwerx said that "Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training".[14]

It has recently been found that the average amount of resveratrol in one ounce of commonly eaten peanuts without the skin (15 whole peanut kernels) is 73 μg.[15] This means that ounce for ounce, peanuts contain almost 30 times as much resveratrol as grapes, which often are touted as being one of the few good sources of the antioxidant.[16]

 

Peanuts and Aflatoxin

Peanuts may be contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin. Lower quality specimens, particularly where mold is evident, are more likely to be contaminated.

 

Trade

The major producers/exporters of peanuts are the United States, Argentina, Sudan, Senegal, and Brazil. These five countries account for 71% of total world exports. In recent years, the United States has been the leading exporter of peanuts. The major peanut importers are the European Union (EU), Canada, and Japan. These three areas account for 78% of the world's imports.

Although India and China are the world's largest producers of peanuts, they account for a small part of international trade because most of their production is consumed domestically as peanut oil. Exports of peanuts from India and China are equivalent to less than 4% of world trade.

Ninety percent of India's production is processed into peanut oil. Only a nominal amount of hand-picked select-grade peanuts are exported. India prohibits the importation of all oil seeds, including peanuts.

The European Union is the largest consuming region in the world that does not produce peanuts. All of its consumption is supplied by imports. Consumption of peanuts in the EU is primarily as food, mostly as roasted-in-shell peanuts and as shelled peanuts used in confectionery and bakery products.

The average annual U.S. imports of peanuts are less than 0.5% of U.S. consumption. Two thirds of U.S. imports are roasted, unshelled peanuts. The major suppliers are Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Canada. The principal suppliers of shelled peanut imports are Argentina and Canada. Most of Canada's peanut butter is processed from Chinese peanuts. Imports of peanut butter from Argentina are in the form of a paste and must be further processed in the U.S. Other minor suppliers of peanut butter include Malawi, China, India, and Singapore.

Approximately 50% of all peanuts produced in the United States are grown within a 160 km (100 mile) radius of Dothan, Alabama. Dothan is home to the National Peanut Festival established in 1938 and held each fall to honor peanut growers and celebrate the harvest.