Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), also called peanut, earthnut, or goober, a legume of the pea family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae), grown for its edible seeds, is a delicious and healthy nut. It is called gyada in Hausa, ntu oka or ahuekere in Igbo, and epa in Yoruba.
Groundnut is rich in macronutrients, such as protein (the amino acid, Arginine), carbohydrate, fibre and sugars; minerals, like potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, calcium, sodium, iron, copper, biotin and zinc; as well as vitamins E, B1, B2, B3, B6 and folate. It also contains monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, resveratrol, coumaric acid, and phytosterols.
Groundnut may be eaten raw, boiled, fried or roasted. It may be available as oil, paste, added to shakes, smoothies, puddings, salads, stir-fried veggies, sliced apples, bread toasts, sauce for meat (in suya and kilishi).
One of the commonest preparations of groundnut is peanut butter, known as “ose oji” or “okwu oji” in Igbo; «epa bota» in Yoruba and «gyada butter» in Hausa.
Pharmacological Actions and Medicinal Uses
The protein-rich composition of groundnut makes it great for people who are either trying to lose weight or trying to gain muscle strength. Groundnuts provide satiety, due to its fibre content, which helps in curbing appetite and managing junk cravings.
Studies reveal that a moderate intake of peanuts daily can help in improving heart health (by reducing bad cholesterol (LDL), preventing blockage in the arteries). It also reduces the risk of strokes and boosts overall immunity.
According to the studies, adding peanuts to diets can improve brainpower and brain functioning, as well as significantly improving ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and boosting memory.
Peanuts also help in reducing depressive symptoms by releasing serotonin; the presence of Tryptophan helps in inducing sleep and improving mental health.
Studies have linked the consumption of peanuts to a lower risk of gallstones in both men and women and lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Several studies report that peanut intake is associated with reduced risk of several cancers, such as colorectal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, gastric and oesophageal cancers. This anticancer property has been attributed to isoflavones, resveratrol, and phenolic acid found in peanuts.
Studies also suggest that peanuts may serve as a possible treatment for erectile dysfunction because of their rich content of arginine, an essential amino acid; also polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) because they contain monounsaturated fats.
Anecdotal evidence suggest that peanut consumption may protect the skin from sunburn and damage and also fight bacteria and make the skin glow as a result of the presence of vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Too much peanuts intake at one time may lead to stomach discomfort. Constipation, diarrhoea and bloating are common issues associated with excessive peanuts intake.
Eating mouldy peanuts can lead to aflatoxin poisoning. It may impair liver function and lead to jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, liver damage and liver cancer. Peanuts may also cause allergic reaction or inhibit iron absorption.
Economic Uses and Potentials
During the processing of groundnuts into oil, the groundnut cake can be used as feed for livestock and poultry or as well used in the production of the locally made Nigerian snack, known as kuli kuli, which is very common in the north.
A 100kg bag of raw unshelled groundnut costs about N80,000, while a bottle of deshelled, roasted groundnut costs between N1,000-N1,200. There are prospects for groundnut in cultivation, sales, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
Koganti S, (2022). Peanuts: 12 Health Benefits, Nutrition, And Possible Side Effects. Available at: https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-health-benefits-of-peanuts/. Accessed October 28, 2022.