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Peanut

Peanuts are not actually a nut but a legume related to peas, chickpeas and other beans. In culinary terms they are considered nuts, the most commonly used nuts in western countries. They contain many nutrients but slow down liver metabolism, so should be avoided by overweight people.

Peanut
The thermal nature is slightly warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Peanuts are not actually a true nut. They are a member of the legume family, related to peas, chickpeas and other beans. The peanut plant is small with the peanut seed growing close to the ground. Because of their heavy weight they bend to the ground and eventually burrow in to mature underground. Each peanut seed contains 2 or 3 oval shaped lobes covered with a red-brown skin.


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What is in it

Peanuts are a good source of manganese, tryptophan, vitamin B3 (niacin), folate, copper and protein. They are also a rich source of monounsaturated fat. 


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What it is good for

• Lubricates the intestines
• Benefits the lungs
• Benefits the spleen-pancreas
• Balances the stomach
• Increases milk in nursing mothers
• Help stop bleeding including hemophilia and blood in the urine by eating raw peanuts
• Assists in lowering blood pressure by drinking a tea from the shells

Eat peanuts with their thin brown skins for their full health benefits.


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When you get it

Peanuts can be found in markets all year around.


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Which to select

Peanuts that are in their shells have a long storage life. Look for shells that are not split or moldy. Buy shelled nuts that are in well-sealed containers from a store with good turnover to ensure freshness. The nuts should be an even color and not soft of shriveled. The peanut should smell sweet and nutty. If the smell is bitter or musty, then the nuts could be rancid. Taste one to be sure they are not old or rancid.

Whole peanuts that are still in their shell should feel heavy for their size and when they are shaken it should not rattle as this is a sign that they could be old and dried out. 

Nuts and seeds become rancid when they are hulled, this deterioration begins immediately. Buy, store and eat only fresh nuts and seeds.

If you want nuts with a roasted flavor, buy nuts that have been dry roasted without oil and no other additives such as sugar or preservatives better still, roast your own.

Why Organic
Choose organically grown vegetables whenever possible. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.
 


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Where to store

Because of the high fat content in peanuts it is very important to store peanuts well to stop them from becoming rancid. Store shelled peanuts in a sealed, airtight non-plastic container in a cool, dry and dark place. Heat and light speed oxidization

Do not store in plastic, oil rich foods combine with plastics to form plasticides.

Shelled peanuts will keep even longer, for several months, if stored in the refrigerator. Stored in the freezer they will keep for up to six months.

Do not chop peanuts before storage, store only whole nuts to avoid them becoming rancid.


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How to use

Eat nuts and seeds in moderation.

Shell the peanuts if they are still in the shell. The peanuts can be eaten whole, chopped by hand and added to yogurts, other deserts or into a healthy curry or sauté.

Roasting reduces the effects of rancidity and reduces the oiliness making the nuts and seeds easier to digest. Lightly roast at 160-170°f for 15 – 20 minutes, to preserve the healthy oils.

The peanuts can be crushed and turned into peanut butter.

Chew well to increase the medicinal value of nuts and seeds.


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.


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Things to watch out for

Some people have mild to severe allergic reactions to peanuts. For people with peanut allergy, exposure can cause fatal anaphylactic shock. 

Eating too any nuts and seeds can cause problems with digestion and bad smelling flatulence.

Peanuts can cause skin breakouts, blemishes and pimples.

They greatly slow down the metabolic rate of the liver. People with damp conditions who are sluggish, with conditions such as overweight, edema, candida growth and cancer, should avoid them.

Do not eat peanuts that have been commercially roasted, as this process is a form of deep-frying, usually in saturated fats that can contribute to high levels of LDL cholesterol and the thickening of the artery walls

Peanuts are often sprayed heavily with chemicals and saturated with synthetic fertilizers. Only organic peanuts should be eaten to avoid chemical residues.

Peanuts contain oxalates, a naturally accruing substance that found in plants, animals and humans. When these oxalates become too concentrated in the body they can crystallize to form health problems including stones in the liver and gall bladder. Also these oxalates can cause problems with the joints and arthritis. 

Peanuts are susceptible to molds and fungal invasions. Of particular concern is aflatoxin, a poison produced by a fungus called Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxin is a known carcinogen that has also been linked to mental retardation and lowered intelligence.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 02/2009.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut, retrieved 02/2009

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)
 


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