Groundnut - Natural Benefits and Curative Properties
Botanical Name :: Arachis hypogaea
Indian Name :: Mongphali
Other English Names :: Peanut, Monkeynut, ground pea
Description of Groundnut
The groundnut belongs to the pea and bean family and is a legume. But it is considered as nut because of its high nutritional value. That is how it is used in family meals and snacks.
The groundnut is the only nut that grows below the earth. The groundnut plant is a variable annual herb, which grows up to 50 cm. in height. The flowers of the plant develop a stalk which enters into the soil, forms a pod containing generally two seeds. They become mature in about two months, when the leaves of the plant turn yellow. The plant is then removed from the earth and allowed to dry. After three to six weeks they are separated from the plant.
Origin and Distribution of Groundnut
The groundnut is a native of South America, where it has been cultivated for several centuries. It has been found in the excavations dated 1000 BC in coastal Peru. In the 16th century, the Portuguese took it from Brazil to West Africa and Spaniards took it across the Pacific to the Philippines. From there, it spread to China, Japan. Malaysia and India and as far as Madagascar. India leads the world in groundnut production and about 40 per cent of the groundnut entering the world commerce is from India.
Food Value of Groundnut
The ground nut is particularly valued for its protein contents, which is of high biological value. Kg. for Kg., groundnuts contain more protein than meat-about two and a half times more than eggs, and far more than any other vegetable food except soyabean and yeast. The proteins in groundnut are well balanced, except for slight deficiency in some of the essential amino acids. As it happens, these amino acids are abundant in milk which can be combined with groundnut products for better results.
For proper digestion, groundnut requires thorough mastication. Experiments made with the groundnut show that it is quite indigestible unless chewed to a smooth paste, This difficulty is obviated by roasting them. The baked raw starch increases its digestibility. As an alternative to chewing it can be ground into a paste which on account of its richness in fat, is called 'peanut butter', A little salt is generally added to it. A little peanut oil is also put if it becomes dense.
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Groundnut
Groundnut is one of the most nourishing foods available in the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers it having maximum five important nutrients such as food energy, protein, phosphorus, thiamin and niacin.
Hence apart from their nutritional value, groundnuts have considerable medicinal value. They contain a good deal of oil which is very easily digested and for this reason they are useful consumptives. The oil is regarded as an excellent aperient or a mild laxative and emollient which softens the skin. Eating fresh roasted groundnuts with jaggery and goat's milk is a very nutritious food for growing children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. It builds a resistance against all infections, particularly tuberculosis and hepatitis.
However, excessive use of groundnuts causes high acidity in the body, spermetorrhoea and premature ejaculation. Some persons are allergic to roasted groundnuts. Asthmatics in particular should abstain from eating groundnuts in excess. Groundnuts that are boiled in salted water are less harmful for such persons. Liberal use of groundnuts should also be avoided by persons with gastritis and jaundice as their excessive use causes hyperacidity of the stomach, indigestion and heart burn
Uses of Groundnut
The groundnuts are consumed in many ways and various forms. They may be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or roasted. They are sometimes eaten as a sweetmeat by coating them with sugar. In the West, they form an important constituent of confections. They are often taken in the form of nut chocolates, candies and sandwiches.
A large number of food products are prepared from the groundnuts. The groundnut flour is becoming increasingly popular in the West. It is by far superior to wheat flour in nutritive value. Groundnuts may be used for preparing a nutritive and tasty milk. About one pound of lightly roasted nuts may be soaked in water for about two hours. The skin of the nuts should be removed by rubbing in water. The soaked nuts are made into a fine paste in a stone grinder. The paste is mixed with water to the quantity of three times the bulk of the paste. It should be strained through a thin cloth before use. The milk may be boiled without loss of its food value. Sugar may be added to taste. In food value and composition. the peanut milk is similar to dairy milk and may be used as its substitute.
The groundnut milk may be converted into curd. A small quantity of the cow milk curd may be added to the milk and allowed to remain overnight to set. It tastes like milk curd and possesses much of its qualities.
Groundnuts are often used as vegetables when the seeds are still tender. They may also be taken in their germinated form. Germination not only renders them more digestible. but also enhances their food value, especially in their vitamin B and C contents.
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