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A handful of nuts a day (2)

A handful of nuts a day for healthier life, but tree nuts are very costly. Good news is that a study published recently puts the humble peanut squarely in the same nutrition league as pricier nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and other tree nuts.

Contrary to what their name implies, technically, peanuts are not nuts. They are, in botanical fact, legumes and are related to other foods in the legume family including peas, lentils, chickpeas and other beans.

An international team of researchers found that in more than 200,000 people from Savannah to Shanghai, those who regularly ate peanuts and other nuts were substantially less likely to have died of any cause – particularly heart disease – over the study period than those who rarely ate nuts.

Peanuts originated in South America where they have existed for thousands of years. They played an important role in the diet of the Aztecs and other Native Indians in South America and Mexico. Peanuts grow in a very fascinating manner. They actually start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground.

The flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut actually matures.

In addition to their monounsaturated fat content, peanuts feature an array of other nutrients that, in numerous studies, have been shown to promote heart health. Peanuts are good sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. In addition, peanuts provide resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes and red wine.

(A peanut has more calories because of the fatty oils in it. 100 g is almost 600 calories. A generally healthy portion is “an ounce a day” – or 28 g a day, about 20 pieces which is around 150 calories.) (Floro Mercene)