Is a Peanut a Legume?


How can a peanut not be a nut? Well the clue is in the other part to its name,“pea”. Think of the way peas and edamame beans grow in a pod with a seam on their side. That is part of the definition of what makes a legume a legume (and not a nut). Also when you consider that peanuts grow underground rather than on trees as real nuts do, then you can start to see that it is not just a case of semantics. But, more importantly, let’s look at why these legumes might be of benefit to us in our diets.

Why eat peanuts?

You may know already that peanuts pack a powerful protein punch – at 25g per 100g they contain more protein than any “true” nut. But did you know that their antioxidant properties rival many fruits?

Aside from many other nutrients peanuts are also a source of:

  • Niacin – which is needed for proper blood flow and good brain health
  • Coenzyme Q10 – which is used for generating energy in your body’s cells
  • Arginine – which may be good for your heart, blood flow and arteries

Let’s go nuts about eating this legume…

There are many ways you can add more peanuts to your diet; its versatility is almost endless:

  • Try adding them to a smoothie with banana, honey, oats and yoghurt for an after gym protein boost
  • Sprinkle into rice, curries, stir fries, or salads for added crunchy texture
  • How about some spicy satay?
  • Eat as peanut butter on wheat bread
  • Carry them as a snack with dried fruits
  • Use peanut oil in your cooking
  • Try buying or making peanut milk
  • Try traditional African peanut butter sauce made with onion, garlic, peanut paste and vegetables
  • American or African peanut soup

So there are no excuses! You can even have them in peanut candies, although the sugar and artificial ingredients may cause you more health concerns than health benefits.

Potential Concerns

The main concern is allergic reactions. If you know you are free of any peanut allergies be sure to check with guests before feeding them peanuts or food cooked with peanut oil. Peanut allergies untreated can even be fatal for some people.

Whilst there could be concerns about the overeating of peanuts providing too much fat (they contain nearly twice as much fat as protein) they contain no trans-fats and contain many other nutrients as well. For maximum health avoid salted peanuts. And if you are a vegan then beware that the honeyed variety may contain gelatin. Dry roasted, however, have no such problem.

In conclusion

Peanuts are versatile, filling and full of protein and other nutrients. If you are sensible about the amounts you eat then their fat content should mitigated. And for a protein boost to a vegetarian dish, or for added texture they can be sprinkled at your eating pleasure!

Useful References

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