Do you know the value of groundnuts?

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Experts say roasted groundnuts lower one’s cholesterol levels. It is, however, advisable to eat the unsalted ones. (Solomon Asaba)

Roasted or not, peanut butter is not the only product you can get from crushed nuts. Using simple equipments, ground the nuts further and the result is peanut oil that can be drawn by decanting. Alternatively, you can mix the resultant paste with an emulsifier to make delicious peanut sauce for accompanying your meal. Whether the sauce can or cannot be served as an appetizer, there seems to be an endless list of product derivatives for this food that is neither considered a fruit nor vegetable.

After being introduced in West Africa by Portuguese merchants sailing from Brazil around the sixteenth century, groundnuts have become one of Africa’s major food sources.

Research from the International Crop Research Institute for semi Arid Tropics, ICRISAT indicates that groundnuts are grown on nearly 23.95 million ha worldwide with the total production being 36.45 million tons and an average yield of 1520 kg/hectares.

These foods have nonetheless been adopted because of their enormous nutritional benefits. Nutritional facts per 100g indicate that ground nuts are blessed with 25.8g proteins and 49.24g fat. These make the largest proportion of the nuts.

Furthermore, the flesh of ground nuts is embedded with a wide range of vitamins such as A, E, C and B.

Research shows that groundnuts have the capacity to replace high biological value proteins in vegetarian diets.

Joseph Uwiragiye, a nutritionist at University Teaching Hospital, says the human body requires a supply of nutrients such as mineral salts, vitamins and proteins to facilitate growth and development.

“Groundnuts are rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and copper. These ingredients help in the growth and formation of some body structures,” Uwiragiye says.

Preparation affects nutrient quality

However for maximum nutrient retention, the method of preparing these delicious nuts still matters since each method will determine what kind of nutrients you preserve.

“Steaming ground nuts for a short time helps retain most of the nutrients that would otherwise be lost in prolonged cooking,” Uwiragiye adds.

Meanwhile, roasting seems to be the most common method of preparing groundnuts that are usually consumed with tea.

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Roasted groundnuts. (Solomon Asaba)

Now, the Journal of Nutrition recommends eating dry-roasted groundnuts because they help lower your cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of blood clots and help keep your arteries healthy. This reduces the risk for heart diseases.

Still according to the journal, healthy components of ground nuts that are beneficial to the heart are unsaturated fats, fiber, amino acids and vitamin E.

Mayo Clinic, a forum that brings together over 3,000 physicians, scientists and researchers, however, suggests that unsalted dry-roasted peanuts are a better option than salted, as most people end up consuming too much sodium on roasted ground nuts.

“Consuming 1.5 ounces of peanuts or other nuts per day, which is about a handful, may be necessary to obtain the heart-health benefits of nuts, and these benefits are only likely if you consume an otherwise heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat and high in fruits and vegetables,” Mayo Clinic reports.

Although it is something that most people do not look out for, several experts warn that consuming old groundnuts is harmful since most times they contain moulds. The mould spores produce afflatoxins that are regarded as food poisons since they can interfere with nervous transmission. Roasting however destroys part of the mould spores.