Read Time:5 Minute, 16 Second

Anne Turner Bruno
Condensed from: Reader’s digest (1978)

Caught without shaving cream on a camping trip, Sen. Barry Goldwater once shaved with peanut butter. “It’s a darn good lotion, he says, “If you don’t mind smelling like a peanut

  Americans munch, on average, nearly five pounds of peanuts a year twice what they ate 15 years ago more than half of this being gobbled up as peanut butter. Underground gourmets slather the people’s pate on tuna-fish or liverwurst sandwiches, chili beans, meatballs, hot dogs, grilled hot corn, apples, bananas, celery, carrot sticks, pickles, and pancakes.  

As a buttery spread, the peanut has flown to the moon on space shots.  Clouding dynamite. Scientists have even found a high-pressure, high-temperature method for converting the peanut’s carbon content into industrial diamonds.  

 1973  October, the National Peanut Festival in Dothan, Ala., drew 300,000 peanut enthusiasts. During the festival parade down Dothan’s main street, a concrete mixer spewed thousands of peanuts to the cheering throng. But the high point was a white Plymouth sedan with a gas turbine engine that ran on peanut oil. Even haute cuisine cannot resist an occasional rendezvous with peanut butter

Yet North Americans are latecomers to peanut worship. Peanut decorated pottery has turned up in ancient Peruvian tombs. And among the treasures that Spanish and Portuguese explorers carried home from South America were the peanut kernels that Indians used for money, food, medicine, and status symbols. From Europe, traders took the peanut to Africa, where its cultivation spread rapidly.  

 Tuskegee Institute. By 1915, the boll weevil had devastated the South’s cotton crop, and Carver persuaded farmers to burn off their ravaged cotton fields and devote far more acreage to this astonishing little peanut plant. Before his death in 1943, he had come up with more than 300 agricultural, industrial and medical uses for the peanut, among them a high-protein liquid that has saved the lives of millions of undernourished children in Africa and Asia.

Some Georgia delegates to the 1976 Democratic National Convention even went so far as to propose making the peanut the national tree. They were better politicians than botanists, obviously, for the peanut grows not on a tree but on a bush. And the peanut itself is not a nut. It is a legume vegetable (Rachis hypogea), a cousin to the black-eyed pea. Indeed, in much of the South, peanuts are known as goober peas. Unlike the other pea and bean legumes, however, the peanut shoots its pod under the soil.  

The harvest produces one of our most nourishing foods. The peanut is 26-percent protein-a higher percentage than in most meats, whole milk, or cheese. It also contains niacin, thiamine, and other vitamin-B components, plus 11 of the 13 essential minerals.

With its 5-4 calories (per gram), each kernel is a veritable pep pill. One pound of roasted peanuts has the energy equivalent of two pounds of hamburger, eight pints of whole milk, or 36 medium-sized eggs. One ounce of peanut butter-costing about six cents provides enough energy for 20 minutes of swimming or 45 minutes of walking. Despite a high-calorie count, the peanut has no cholesterol. And its oil, about 80percent unsaturated fat, is ideal for low-cholesterol ducts.  

Peanut protein concentrates and isolates are commercially produced from defatted peanut flour using several methods. Peanut flour concentrates (about 70% protein) are produced from deshelled kernels by removing most of the oil and the water-soluble, non-protein components. Hydraulic pressingscrew pressingsolvent extraction, and pre-pressing followed by solvent extraction may be used for oil removal, after which protein isolation and purification are  

Peanuts are rich in essential nutrients (right table, USDA nutrient data). In a 100-gram (3+12-ounce) reference serving, peanuts provide 2,385 kilojoules (570 kilocalories) of food energy and are an excellent source (defined as more than 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of several B vitaminsvitamin E, several dietary minerals, such as manganese (95% DV), magnesium (52% DV) and phosphorus (48% DV), and dietary fiber (right table). They also contain about 25 g of protein per 100 g serving, a higher proportion than in many tree nuts.  

Peanuts come in many forms, including roasted, salted, chocolate-coated, and peanut butter. Different types have different nutritional profiles    Along with their healthful nutritional profile, peanuts are a calorie-rich food, so they are most healthful when enjoyed in moderation.  In this article, we provide the nutritional profile of peanuts, their health benefits, and how different types compare.

People can also buy roasted, salted peanuts. Eating these types is okay in moderation, though consuming too much sodium is linked with high blood pressure and heart disease.

The AHA recommends an ideal limit of 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and no more than 2,300 mg of sodium — equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt — especially for people with high blood pressure.

Where possible, choose raw peanuts with the skin attached. Peanut skins contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells from damage from free radicals. Producers usually remove the skins from most roasted or salted peanuts.

People can enjoy peanuts and peanut butter in moderation as a snack throughout the day. In main meals, peanuts make a great addition to salads or Thai dishes.

Some studies show that regular consumption of peanuts is associated with a lower specific risk of mortality from certain diseases.  However, the study designs do not allow cause and effect to be inferred. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (such as peanuts) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Ranked second after soya beans, peanuts are the world’s largest source of vegetable oil. They are the main constituent of margarine and are produced commercially as salad and cooking oil.

Anne Turner Bruno
Shreveport Magazine

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