I visited my mother recently and I needed tea on a cold morning. Tetrapleura tetraptera (Aridan), pineapple peels, ginger and garlic were available and I gave instructions that they should be cooked. That was the tea we had that day. I like to look for safer substitutes in nature instead of using store-bought edibles all the time.
In 1997, while observing the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme at Garkawa, Plateau State, I saw species of peanuts that were strange. Some even had stripes on them! At some point, I took advantage of the fact that the nut was in abundance and I started experimenting by cooking it with beans and it turned out tasty. In the house I stayed, kulikuli and groundnut oil, which are some of its by-products, were made. This week, I decided to “come home” after discussing two non-indigenous nuts by talking about peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), popularly called groundnut.
Peanuts and peanut products are superbly healthy. They are chock-full of nutrients such as protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and antioxidants. They are an excellent source of compounds such as resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids and phytosterols. They are also a good source of Coenzyme Q10 and they contain all the 20 amino acids with arginine being the highest. They are an excellent source of biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus and magnesium. The skins are regarded as a low economic value by-product of the peanut industry. However, they contain high levels of bioactive compounds including catechins and procyanidins which are known for their health-promoting properties.
Some of the by-products are peanut oil, peanut flour, peanut soup and peanut cake (kulikuli).
The oil is one of the most commonly used edible oils in the world. It is often used in cooking, making margarines, salad oils, etc. It is sometimes applied directly to the skin for arthritis, joint pain, dry skin, eczema, scalp crusting and scaling without hair loss and other skin disorders that cause scaling. Rectally, it is used in ointments and medicinal oils for treating constipation. It is used in many ways including the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, soaps, cold creams, pomades, lubricants, paints, emulsions for insect control and fuel for diesel engines.
They are made into flour (Peanut flour).
The flour contains a good amount of protein and has been used to replace animal proteins in a variety of products. It blends well with cereal flour to yield products with excellent flavour, texture and colour. Another by-product is peanut butter. It is a food paste or spread made from ground, dry-roasted peanuts. It is typically served as a spread on bread, toast or crackers and used to make sandwiches. There is also a presscake from the oil extraction which is known as kulikuli. Peanuts are used for cooking soups too.
Let us see some of its benefits
Rich in protein: Protein is important for growth and development as well as for wound healing, tissue repair, immune function and more. It is also crucial for increasing strength and supporting muscle growth,
Peanut is a great source of protein. According to a study, taking peanut powder supplements increased muscle mass and strength among older adults when combined with resistance training.
Enhances sexual function: Peanuts are loaded with arginine; an amino acid that is converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a compound that helps dilate the blood vessels to improve blood flow and circulation. Studies show that arginine supplements may help treat mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Other test-tube and animal studies have found that arginine could improve semen quality, enhance libido and increase testosterone levels. Peanuts are also a good source of resveratrol, an antioxidant that has also been shown to support sexual health in men. According to some human and animal studies, resveratrol may likewise improve sperm quality and erectile function. In a research, 83 healthy men followed either a traditional Western-style diet without nuts or a Western-style diet that also included 60 grams (about 360 calories) of a nut mixture made from almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts every day.
A questionnaire assessed their current sexual function. After 14 weeks, men in the nut group reported improvement in sexual function like sexual desire and quality of orgasms.
Weight loss: Peanuts have been widely studied with regard to weight maintenance. In fact, observational studies have shown that peanut consumption may help maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of obesity.
A study found that when 89 grams of peanuts were added to the daily diet of healthy adults for eight weeks, they did not gain as much weight as expected. Another study including 65 men who are overweight found that consuming peanuts as part of a low-calorie diet increased fat burning and decreased body fat.
Supports heart health: Diet plays a key role in heart health and certain foods, including peanuts, have been shown to decrease several risk factors for heart disease. Studies show that replacing carbohydrates or saturated fats in your diet with polyunsaturated fats may reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
One review found that eating peanuts and tree nuts at least twice per week was associated with a 13 per cent lower risk of heart disease. Other studies show that peanut consumption may increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which may also benefit heart health. In over 30,000 postmenopausal women studied, those who ate nuts and seeds, including peanuts more than four times per week had a 40 per cent lower risk of death from coronary heart disease. This goes to show that adding a small serving of peanuts to your diet can have a large impact.
Healthier cholesterol levels: In one study, postmenopausal women with high cholesterol who were provided a low-fat diet that included healthy fats from peanuts ended up improving their cholesterol. They also contain phytosterols which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels as well.
Protects cells and reduces inflammation: Peanuts (especially the skins) contain resveratrol, a bioactive nutrient found to have anti-aging properties that protect cells from being damaged. And the fats found in peanuts can help ease joint pain caused by inflammation and wear-and-tear over the years.
Lowers diabetes risk: Peanuts are a low-glycemic food which means that eating them will not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that eating peanuts can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
Cancer prevention: Resveratrol shows evidence for cancer protection. Research has demonstrated that for older people, eating peanut butter may help lower the risk of developing a certain type of stomach cancer.
A study titled, “Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Peanut Skin Extracts,’’ by Lewis et al, showed that peanut skin extracts contain high levels of procyanidins and other phenolic compounds, whether extracted with acetone or ethanol. Due to their low cost, peanut skins have great potential to serve as an economical source of natural antioxidants for the food and nutraceutical industries.
Apart from boiling and roasting, my favourite way of eating it is by cooking it with fresh corn instead of beans. It’s yummy.
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