Food – A Nut that is not a Nut

Most people like to chew on nuts and cook with nuts. There is one nut that is not a nut but acts like a nut and all consider it a nut. What could that be? The peanut!

“… the peanut is actually a legume, native to South America, that happens to look and taste like a nut. Nutritionally, peanuts act like nuts, too. About half their weight comes from fat, with the rest split fairly evenly between protein and carbohydrate (with fiber). About half of their total fat comes from monounsaturated fat, the kind that is linked to more healthful blood lipid levels. One-third of the fat comes from polyunsaturated fat (all of which is omega-6 fatty acid, not the super healthy omega-3). About 14% of the fat is naturally saturated.”

“As American as apple pie, peanut butter has made its mark on American cuisine since the early 1900s. Whether it’s partnering with jelly on bread or is the featured ingredient in cookie dough, it’s an enduring favorite. Most households have a jar of it in the kitchen at all times.

“But is peanut butter good for you? Well, like most nut butters, peanut butter is high in fat and calories (with around 190 calories and 16 grams of fat per 2 tablespoons). But the good news is, you get a lot of nutrition for your 190-calorie investment. Nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

“In 2003 the FDA approved a qualified health claim for peanuts and certain tree nuts. It basically says that scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol) may reduce the risk of heart disease.

“Most of the research suggesting health benefits to nuts has involved lowering the risk of heart or cardiovascular disease or their risk factors. But there is some evidence nuts may help with other diseases as well. For example, peanuts are a source of the phytochemical resveratrol (also found in grape skins and red wine). A recent German study explored resveratrol’s possible cancer-preventing effects in colorectal cells.” Ibid.

The next time you chew on a peanut or spread the peanut butter, remember, you are chewing on a legume and you are spreading legume butter. It does sound more appetizing to say peanut butter. Enjoy!

Healthy Nutty Banana Spread
½ cup crunchy peanut butter ½ cup mashed banana
½ cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
Basically use equal amounts of each ingredient. Combine peanut butter and orange juice. Add the mashed banana and mix well. This is easy, healthy and good on toast or crackers.