Peanuts (Groundnut) – Africa’s No. 1 beloved heart-healthy snack

    Groundnut refers to any of the numerous plants that grow edible fruit or other nutlike components are known as groundnuts. Three of these belong to the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) family: The peanut (q.v.) has a fruit that is more like a legume or pod than a genuine nut; Apois Americana, also known as wild bean and potato bean, has edible tubers; and Lathyrus tuberosus, also known as Earth-nut pea. Cyperus esculentus, often known as nutsedge or yellow nutgrass, is a papyrus-related (family Cyperaceae) that produces edible tubers, particularly in the chufa (earth almond) variation.

    Difference between peanut and groundnut

    The peanut (Arachis hypogaea), commonly known as the groundnut, goober (US), pindar (US), or monkey nut (UK), is a legume crop produced primarily for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, with both small and major commercial growers relying on it. It is classified as a grain legume as well as an oil crop due to its high oil content. In other words, the peanut is a type of groundnut.

    Grown for its edible seeds, the peanut is native to tropical South America, the peanut was at an early time introduced to the Old World tropics. The seeds are nutritionally dense food, rich in protein and fat. Despite its several common names, the peanut is not a true nut. As with other legumes, the plant adds nitrogen to the soil by means of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and is thus particularly valuable as a soil-enriching crop.

    Peanuts are mostly utilized as nutritional supplements and peanut butter, whilst groundnuts are primarily used as a high-nutrient cooking oil. Although it has multiple secondary uses: it is used for assisting in enhancing the levels of your body’s nutrition, food security, and overall nourishment.

    A brief history of groundnut

    Groundnut is a New World native crop. It was widely farmed throughout Mesoamerica and South America, according to early travelers. The planned agricultural use of pericarp (fruit husk) tissue recovered from ancient sites in Peru dates to around 3900–3750 years before the present (YBP). No one knows how much earlier domestication took place, but it most likely began in the Gran Chaco region of South America, in the valleys of the Paraná and Paraguay river systems.

    The Portuguese introduced it to West Africa (initially in the Senegambia region) in the 16th century. It spread quickly in this area, though more quickly in the interior of Africa than along the coast.

    Cultivation on a greater scale began in Senegambia about 1830, mostly as a hedge against millet harvest failure due to its drought resistance. Senegambia’s first tiny exports to Europe were recorded in the year 1830. When the potential for peanut oil was identified, there was a surge in exports. There was an ever-increasing demand for lubricating oils as Europe became more industrialized. Furthermore, oils were required in the making of soap, as there was a big campaign for improved cleanliness standards at the time. Cooking, of course, necessitated the use of vegetable oils.

    George Washington Carver – The Father of Peanuts

    George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist and inventor who advocated for non-cotton crops and soil conservation practices. In the early twentieth century, he was the most well-known black scientist.

    He is known as the “Father of Peanuts” because he invented over 300 uses for peanuts, including chili sauce, shampoo, shaving cream, and adhesive, to aid in the preservation of Southern agriculture.

    Fun facts

    1. It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
    2. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
    3. Peanut butter was not invented by George Washington Carver. He was regarded as the “plant doctor” and the “grandfather of peanuts” because he discovered so many uses for peanuts.
    4. In the peanut-growing regions of the South, boiled peanuts are considered a delicacy. Freshly harvested peanuts are boiled in brine until they have the consistency of a mushy bean.
    5. March is national peanut month.
    6. There is a Guinness World Record for how far a person can throw a peanut. With a distance of 124ft 4inches, Colin Jackson holds the record.
    7. Leftover peanut shells can be used to make kitty litter, kindling, fireplace logs, or compost! If you use them as packing material, you are even helping out the environment as they are eco-friendly!
    8. The phrase “peanut gallery” comes from the 1800s when people sitting in the audience upper levels of stage productions would throw peanuts at performers if they didn’t like what they were seeing.
    9. Plumpy’Nut is a life-saving snack made from peanuts that are used to treat severe malnutrition in emergency settings. When children in underdeveloped countries need to acquire weight quickly, they are given this supplement. This peanut paste has been utilized by the United Nations to help save lives all around the world.
    10. Peanut butter is only peanut butter if peanuts make up to 90% of its recipe.

    Global Production of Peanuts

    According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, the area under groundnut (peanut) cultivation has remained reasonably consistent over the last 45 years, rising from just under 20 million hectares in the early 1970s to just over 25 million hectares in 2018. (BFAP).

    Peanut output has improved significantly over this time due to the development of new cultivars, with average yields increasing from roughly 1,1 to 1,8 tons per hectare and the global average production volume growing from just over 15 million tons to between 40 and 45 million tons per year.

    China is by far the largest producer of peanuts globally, accounting for 15 million tons of the world’s total production. The United States is the world’s fourth-largest producer (2020), exporting roughly 25-30% of its output. Peanut butter was created from around 56 percent of the peanuts cultivated in 2020.

    Production in Africa

    peanut production

    Nigeria is Africa’s largest groundnut producer, accounting for 30% of the continent’s total nut production. The nuts are primarily farmed in Nigeria’s dry regions, such as Kano, Kwara, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kaduna. In Nigeria, nuts are used to make cooking oil and as a source of protein for both humans and animals. According to the FAO data, Nigeria produced 3,028,571 metric tons of peanuts. Groundnuts make for 70 percent of the country’s overall export revenues. Nigeria’s nuts are primarily exported to Indonesia and the European Union.

    Peanut production in South Africa has risen and fallen dramatically over the last two decades, with the introduction of new cultivars unable to compensate for the loss of producing land. Droughts in important crop areas on a regular basis in the five years running up to 2020 aggravated the situation.

    According to Adri Botha, chairperson of the SA Groundnut Forum, a lot is being done to reintroduce production since groundnuts (peanuts) provide significant returns and constitute a great rotating crop, particularly in maize rotations, due to their ability to fix nitrogen.

    Types/Varieties of Peanut

    Although there are many varieties of peanut species, there are four main market types that would be discussed in this article.

    Spanish Peanut

    Spanish peanuts are known for their characteristic red skins. When roasted, they have a somewhat increased oil content, which enhances the flavor. Peanuts are nearly solely grown in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico in the United States. Spanish peanuts are commonly used in candies, confections, and peanut butter, and the Spanish type accounts for the majority of organic peanuts produced in the United States.

    They are the most commonly farmed kind in South Africa. There are organic Spanish peanuts available.

    Virginia Peanuts

    Sometimes known as “gourmet” peanut, has huge kernels and is the variety sold in the shell at baseball stadiums. This kind is ideally suited for eating rather than dipping in peanut butter because of its enormous size and quality qualities.

    This type is primarily grown in Virginia and the Carolinas, but it has recently become popular in other parts of the country. Virginia peanuts were the first species of peanuts to be grown commercially. Peanuts were only grown on a small scale before the mid-nineteenth century. The first commercial peanut crop was planted in Sussex County, Virginia, in 1842, near the present-day town of Waverly.

    Valencia Peanuts

    Valencia peanuts have vivid red skin and are delicious. In a longer shell, this peanut usually has three or more kernels. Valencia peanuts are typically served roasted, in-shell, or boiling.

    Runner Peanuts

    This variety has a nice flavor, is medium in size, roast well, and yield more than other Peanut varieties. The runner peanut is primarily used in the production of peanut butter and salted peanut. Runner peanut kernels are fairly similar in size, making them ideal for evenly roasting so that your peanut butter tastes the same in every jar.

    How To Enjoy Peanuts

    peanuts recipes

    There are so many ways to enjoy these healthy snacks, and the African Food Network has got you covered on that, here are a few recipes:

    Peanut and Health

    Peanuts are available in a variety of flavors, including roasted, salted, chocolate-coated, and peanut butter. The nutritional characteristics of each kind differ, as do the health advantages.

    Peanuts, in addition to their beneficial nutritional profile, are a calorie-dense food, therefore they are best consumed in moderation.

    Apart from oil, peanut by-products contain numerous additional functional substances such as proteins, fibers, polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can be added as functional ingredients to many processed meals. It was recently discovered that peanuts are high in substances including resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and phytosterols, which help to prevent cholesterol absorption from the diet. It’s also strong in Co-enzyme Q10 and includes all 20 amino acids, with arginine being the most abundant.


    Nutritional Value

    Here are the nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw peanuts:

    • Calories: 567
    • Water: 7%
    • Protein: 25.8 grams
    • Carbs: 16.1 grams
    • Sugar: 4.7 grams
    • Fiber: 8.5 grams
    • Fat: 49.2 grams
      • Saturated: 6.28 grams
      • Monounsaturated: 24.43 grams
      • Polyunsaturated: 15.56 grams
      • Omega-3: 0 grams
      • Omega-6: 15.56 grams
      • Trans: 0 grams


    Fats Content

    While they contain a lot of fat, the majority of the lipids in them are considered “good fats.” These fats truly aid in the reduction of cholesterol levels. Because of their high-fat content, a large portion of the world’s peanut harvest is used for making peanut oil.

    The types of fat peanuts consist of are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are made up of oleic linoleum acid. Unsaturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet as opposed to saturated fats. Unsaturated fats aid in the reduction of LDL cholesterol, the reduction of inflammation, and the formation of stronger cell membranes in the body.

    They may also aid in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Saturated fats, on the other hand, can elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, raising your risk of heart disease and stroke. In this case, HDL cholesterol, sometimes known as “good” cholesterol, has a beneficial effect by transporting cholesterol from sections of the body where there is too much to the liver, where it is disposed of.


    Health Benefits of Peanuts

    Heart Health

    Peanuts do a lot when it comes to lowering blood cholesterol and preserving health. High levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol in the blood can cause atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty deposits inside the arteries. Heart disease can occur if the arteries leading to or within your heart get obstructed by these deposits. Fortunately, different components of nuts, particularly peanuts, include healthy oils, protein, and fiber, all of which can help lower cholesterol. They are high in monounsaturated fat, a heart-healthy fat that helps lower LDL cholesterol levels.


    Weight Loss

    Peanuts are heavy in calories, but they help you lose weight rather than gain it. Peanuts are a high-energy snack. As a result, snacking on them may cause you to consume fewer calories later in the day. When eaten as a snack, peanuts produced more sensations of fullness than when eaten with a meal. This could eventually aid in weight loss. Nut consumption was not linked to increased body weight gain in some trials, suggesting that it may help with weight loss.

    One strategy to increase nutrient consumption without gaining weight is to include peanuts in your diet. Consumption of peanuts and peanut butter has also been shown to increase feelings of fullness. In equal amounts, these could satisfy people better than carbohydrate-rich snacks.



    Peanut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of gallstones. peanut eating may reduce the risk of gallstones, according to a Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston) study. Gallstone disease is less likely in men who eat five or more units of nuts (including peanuts) each week.

    Women who eat five or more nuts per week have a lower risk of cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder). Long-term studies are needed to fully comprehend this peanut benefit.


    Blood Sugar

    Peanuts or peanut butter do not cause blood sugar levels to rise. Having them with a high-GL meal (such as a bagel or a glass of juice) may help to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Peanuts have a GI of 14 (glycemic index).

    Peanuts have a GI of 14 (on a scale of 100), while their GL (glycemic load), which indicates how food may affect your blood sugar levels, is only 1. Peanuts are classified as a diabetes superfood by the American Diabetes Association. Peanut fiber also helps to reduce blood sugar levels. They also contain magnesium and other beneficial substances that help with this.

    According to a study conducted on obese women by the Federal University of Vicoça (Brazil), eating peanuts or peanut butter first thing in the morning can help manage blood sugar levels throughout the day. Another Harvard School of Public Health study discovered that eating more peanuts and peanut butter can lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes in women.

    Additionally, regular consumption of a peanut-enriched diet for 24 weeks could enhance health indices in type 2 diabetic patients. This is due to peanuts’ high nutritional profile, which includes monounsaturated fat, fiber, arginine, niacin, folate, and vitamin E.


    Peanuts are high in antioxidants and plant chemicals. The majority of these compounds may be found in the skin of peanuts, which should be eaten raw in order to reap the full advantages. Resveratrol, coumaric acid, and phytosterols that help prevent cholesterol absorption, isoflavones, and phytic acid present in plant seeds are some of the plant chemicals abundantly available in peanuts.

    Skin Health

    Peanut eating, according to anecdotal research, may protect your skin from sunburn and damage. Peanuts contain vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc, which may help to combat bacteria and make your skin sparkle. Peanuts include beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may assist to improve skin health. However, there is a scarcity of studies in this area.


    Hair Health

    There isn’t enough scientific evidence to link peanuts to hair growth. Peanuts may be an excellent supplement to a diet for hair development because they contain all of the amino acids and a lot of protein (33). Peanuts are a nutrient-dense food. They are nutrient-dense and nutritious.


    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms (PCOS)

    In this area, there is a scarcity of research. Peanuts, which contain monounsaturated fats, may help treat PCOS, according to anecdotal data. According to several studies, eating a diet rich in these fats can assist women with PCOS improve their metabolic profile.



    Peanuts are high in protein and fiber, which help the body convert carbs into energy. Peanuts have a protein composition of roughly 25% of their total calories. Peanuts’ fiber and protein mix delay the digestive process, allowing for a more consistent release of energy into the body. However, further research is needed to fully comprehend this peanut benefit.

    Erectile Dysfunction.

    Arginine, an important amino acid, is abundant in peanuts. The amino acid arginine has been intensively researched as a potential therapy for erectile dysfunction.

    More research is needed to see if arginine alone can help with erectile dysfunction treatment. However, research shows that taking this amino acid along with a herbal medication called pycnogenol can help with erectile dysfunction.


    Consumption of peanuts (and other nuts) has been linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Peanuts include anticancer compounds such as isoflavones, resveratrol, and phenolic acid, which may help reduce cancer risk.

    Peanut consumption was also linked to a lower incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer in research conducted in the Netherlands. They have also been discovered to protect older folks from the stomach and esophageal malignancies. Individuals who did not consume any nuts or peanut butter were found to have the highest risk of acquiring these cancers when compared to those who did.

    Peanuts and cancer, on the other hand, are a source of concern. Aflatoxin, a family of toxins generated by certain fungi, could be present in peanuts. These chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer. According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia in the United States, resveratrol has anti-inflammatory properties contained in peanuts has powerful antioxidant capabilities that aid in cancer prevention.

    Healthiest Varieties of Peanuts?

    The healthiest type of peanut is raw. Peanut butter is a fantastic option because it has a balanced nutritional profile as well as a number of health advantages. Find out what peanut butter can do for your health.

    Peanuts that have been roasted and salted are also available for purchase. In moderation, these foods are fine, but too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily sodium intake of no more than 1,500 mg and no more than 2,300 mg (equal to 1 teaspoon of salt) for persons with high blood pressure.

    Choose raw those with the peel on whenever possible. Antioxidants can be found in peanut skins. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. The skins are normally removed from most roasted or salted peanuts by the producers. Peanuts and peanut butter can be consumed in moderation as healthy snacks frequently throughout the day. Peanuts are a terrific accent to salads or Thai foods in main courses.

    You can learn about other types of nuts here on the African Food Network, to do that, check out this article;

    Nuts – 7 Amazing Health Benefits And Types


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