Peanuts pack quite a punch

Healthy snack

What describes a lazy day in winter? The image that comes to mind is of one either sitting out and soaking in the sun over endless cups of masala chai or snugly wrapped in a blanket and warming oneself in front of the heater, munching winter goodies!

But the best way to spend a leisurely winter day is to go for a combo of television with your favourite sitcom and a bowlful of salted peanuts and popcorn. So what is it about this all-time snack that is so alluring?  Well for one peanuts are said to be Mother Nature’s vitamin factory. Little wonder then that the 17th century Portuguese traders carried peanuts on their ships as an essential food item!

Metrolife checks out on the humble peanut, which has come a long way from being the ‘poorman’s fare’, and learns that its numerous health benefits have only enhanced its popularity with the rich and poor alike. Indeed, the popularity of peanuts is not just restricted to the subcontinent and it has found favour in platters across the world. A large chunk of peanuts is produced in South America, followed by India, China, Indonesia and Senegal.

While they are popularly known as ‘nuts’, peanuts are in fact legumes. They grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. that grow on trees. Peanuts are rich in mono-unsaturated fats, the type of fat that is emphasised in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. To lower your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, enjoy a handful of peanuts or a tablespoon of peanut butter, at least four times a week.

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. But a study says having peanuts twice a week will results less in gaining of weight as compared to those who never eat nuts. Peanuts are an excellent source of biotin.

They are also a very good source of copper as well as a good source of manganese, niacin, molybdenum, folate, Vitamin E, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, and protein. Protein is vital for the growth, maintenance and repair of body's tissues, and is one of the essential building blocks of all life. In fact, they have such a high protein content they're widely used as an alternative to meat in many vegetarian recipes.

Peanuts are also reportedly 100 per cent cholesterol free! Since high cholesterol levels are a major concern for many people you can rest assured that you can eat them by the bagful without raising your cholesterol level one bit.

Now-a-days there are a variety of deep fried snacks, momos and rolls that one finds in every corner, add to them the other spicy Indian savo­uries which taste good but may not be so healthy for the heart.

Modern science has shown that peanuts are one of the most complete nutritionalresources available. So if you love to snack on peanuts, you can do it without feeling guilty!

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