Widely used in the form of peanut butter, which was introduced in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, the peanut itself originated in South America, most likely in Brazil or Peru. The peanut is grown in various locations spanning from Asia and Africa, as well as North and South America, with the oldest recorded finding being in Peru 7600 years ago.
About the Peanut
The peanut is actually a legume and is grown from a plant that reaches no more than 1.6 ft. tall and belongs to the bean family referred to as Leguminosae. While all physical growth aspects and nutritional value of the peanut reflect that of the legume family, the peanut is treated like a nut for the purposes of culinary uses.
Peanuts are enjoyed roasted, boiled and raw; and can be made into peanut butter and peanut oil, flour, and protein powder. Peanuts have many nutritional benefits and can help prevent disease due to the content of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
Peanuts are a great source of protein and upon the introduction of peanut butter in the early 1900s; it became an American staple during both the world wars. The peanut also contains vitamins and minerals including B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, copper, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, and biotin.
Additionally, peanuts contain resveratrol, which is a potent antioxidant that fights cancer and aging. Because of the high content of protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat, peanuts are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and may also help improve energy levels.
With the presence of oleic acid found in peanuts, the legume also contains large amounts of antioxidants. The oleic acid, which is a healthy fat routinely found in olive oil, is heart healthy. The levels of antioxidants present in the peanut make it a strong competitor among fruits including the pomegranate and blackberries.
In addition to the peanut being enjoyed as a nutty snack, 45% of peanuts produced are used in peanut butter in the United States. More than half of the ten most popular candy bars contain peanuts in original form or in butter form.
Peanuts are considered by some to be an oilseed and peanut oil is used by chefs around the world due to its high smoke point of 460 degrees F, the presence of healthy monounsaturated fats and because it is virtually tasteless in oil form.
- It takes approximately 540 peanuts to create a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches were a favorite of Elvis Presley.
- Most peanut farms are 200 acres large and produce approximately 5,000 pounds of peanuts annually.
Peanuts are also called groundnuts, goobers, and monkey nuts.