Do you feel left out when your friends are having their junk food snacks and you are not because you want to eat healthy? Well you don’t have to feel left out anymore. The answer to your problem….. Nuts. They are healthy, delicious and nutritious and there is such a wide variety to choose from. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashew, peanuts……..wait a minute. Is peanut a nut, or is it just masquerading as one. I mean, a lot of persons I know would tell you that peanut is their favourite nut but are we thoroughly mistaken? Could it really be a pea?
What is a nut
A nut is a fruit that has a hard, inedible outer shell and a seed or kernel inside which is edible. The hard outer shell doesn’t open naturally and it usually takes some amount of effort to crack it open and get to the seed inside.
Nuts usually grow on trees and are sometimes referred to as tree nuts
Some of the more popular nuts are, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and cashew.
Can you say nutrient dense foods? These high energy foods are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids
I am sure you know that nuts are quite versatile in the culinary department. I am sure you have used them in many ways. They can be eaten by themselves as snacks, made into butters or utilized in numerous recipes.
What is a legume
A legume is a member of the plant family Fabaceae. That is a big and hard to pronounce name I know, so we will spend no more time trying to wrap our tongue around. We will just simply say that a defining characteristic of a legume is that the plant contains a single row of edible seeds enclosed in an elongated pod.
Think peas and beans. There are hundreds of varieties.
Legumes are usually dehiscent, meaning they open along a seam on the side.
Some legumes are not dehiscent but it is still easy to open the outer pod to get to them. An example of this is the tamarind.
Similar to nuts, legumes are nutrient dense foods, rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and high in fiber.
If you are still not sure what legumes are, here are a few examples. Lentils, kidney beans, broad beans, chick peas, split peas, navy beans. Okay. This was just to get you started. Now you know what kinds of foods we are talking about when we say legumes.
Just a few were listed but there are hundreds of varieties.
Many legumes grow their pods underground. Others grow their pods above ground on vines and bushes.
Time to get to the meat of the matter.
What is peanut?
- Is it a fruit with a hard inedible outer shell? No. The outer shell might be inedible but it is not that hard, is it?
- Does it take effort to crack the outer shell to get to the seed? No.
- Does it grow on a tree? No
- Is it a member of the plant family Fabaceae? Actually it is.
- Does it contains a single row of edible seeds enclosed in an elongated pod? Yes it does.
- Do the pods grow underground? Yes.
I think we have our answer.
Peanut is not a nut, it is a legume.
Can you imagine. After all this time calling it a nut…just to find out now that peanut It is more related to peas than to nuts.
Popularity of peanut
According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts, peanut butter and peanut candy are some of the most popular products in the United States. Can you imagine that Americans eat more than six pounds of peanut products each year, worth more than $2 billion at the retail level. That is just astounding.
Okay, so peanut is not a nut. Hey. So what? It is still a delicious food packed full of nutrition.
Look at the amount of nutrients found in 100 g (a little over 1/2 cup) of raw Valencia peanuts.
Carbohydrate – 20.19 g (7% DV)
Proteins – 25.09 g (50% DV)
Fiber – 8.7 g (35% DV)
- Folate – 246 mcg
- Niacin – 12.875 mg (64% DV)
- Pantothenic Acid – 1.809 mg (18% DV)
- Riboflavin – 0.300 mg (18% DV)
- Thiamin – 0.639 mg (43% DV)
- Vitamin B6 – 0.340 mg (17% DV)
- Calcium – 62.00 mg (6% DV)
- Copper – 1.171 mg (59% DV)
- Iron – 2.09 mg (12% DV)
- Magnesium – 184.00 mg (46% DV)
- Manganese – 1.980 mg (99%DV)
- Phosphorus – 336.00 mg (34%DV)
- Potassium – 332.00 mg (7% DV)
- Selenium – 7.3 mcg (10% DV)
- Zinc – 3.34 mg (22% DV)
Talk about nutrient dense!
Can be had many ways
- The easiest way is to just pop it out of the shell and eat it raw as a snack or you can roast it in the oven for about 10 minutes before eating.
- Peanut butter…is there anything as popular?
- You can have peanut punch, peanut porridge.
- You can have it in your baked goods and salads.
- There is even peanut oil.
To think that all this time we were listing peanut as one of, if not our favourite nuts.
It is definitely the most popular nut butter…..oops, I forgot. It’s not a nut. Should we call it our favourite legume butter?
That just doesn’t sound right.
You know what? You stomach doesn’t really care whether peanut is a nut or a legume. All that is important is that this food is delicious and nutritious and healthy.
Who cares? Go ahead and enjoy your pea…nut.