Groundnuts belong to the pea and bean family and are a legume. But they are considered as nuts because of the high nutritional value which is required in most family meals and snacks. Besides growing below the earth, groundnuts are one of the most nourishing foods available.
The groundnut is particularly valued for its protein contents hence high biological value. They contain more protein than meat, two and a half times more than eggs, and far more than any other vegetable food except soya bean and yeast.
The protein in groundnuts is well balanced, except for a 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 as it is quite indigestible unless chewed to a smooth paste. Today people have learnt how to solve this difficulty by roasting the nuts. The baked raw starch increases its digestibility. As an alternative to chewing it can be grounded into a paste to form peanut butter which is accountable for its richness in fat.
A part from their nutritional value, groundnuts are of considerable medicinal value. They contain a good deal of oil that is easily digested and for this reason they are useful in consumptives.
The oils in groundnuts products are regarded as an excellent laxative which softens the skin. Eating fresh roasted groundnuts with goat’s milk is a very nutritious food for growing children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in building resistance against all infections, particularly tuberculosis and hepatitis.
However, excessive consumption of groundnuts causes high acidity in the body, spermetorrhoea and premature ejaculation and some people are allergic to roasted groundnuts.
Asthmatics, in particular, should refrain from eating groundnuts in excess although groundnuts that are boiled in salted water are less harmful for such people.
Consumption of groundnuts should also be avoided by persons with gastritis and jaundice to avoid excessive production of acid in the stomach, indigestion and heart burn.
Groundnut products have proved to be essential in the prevention of excessive bleeding especially for people suffering from diseases like haemophilia, an inherited blood disease that causes hemorrhage.
Scientific research done recently in by Western researchers has also proved that the use of groundnuts in severe cases of epistaxis or nose bleeding or cases of excessive bleeding during menstruation in women is helpful.
Groundnuts are considered beneficial in the treatment of obesity; experiments have shown that weight can be reduced by eating a handful of roasted groundnuts with tea or coffee without sugar an hour before lunchtime. It reduces appetite and thus reduces the weight gradually.
Groundnuts are valuable in diabetes, eating a handful of groundnuts daily by diabetics will not only prevent malnutrition, particularly the deficiency of niacin, but also checks the development of vascular complications.
Groundnuts are also useful when someone has diarrhea, especially chronic diarrhea which is frequent immediately after meals. Patients can benefit greatly by drinking goat’s milk in which lemon is squeezed with a handful of fresh roasted groundnuts.
This type of diarrhea is due to nicotinic acid deficiency, the groundnuts have the required quantity of niacin whose shortage leads to this kind of complications.
Chewing fresh groundnuts with a pinch of salt strengthens the gum, cures gum inflammation, kills harmful bacteria and safeguards the enamel of the teeth. The mouth should however be washed with water after eating groundnuts.
It is also believed that groundnuts oil can serve as a beauty aid. For example a teaspoon of refined groundnut oil mixed with equal quantity of lime juice, may be applied daily on ones face once before going to bed. It keeps the face fresh and its regular use nourishes the skin and prevents acne.
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.