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Scientific classification
A. hypogaea
Binomial name
Arachis hypogaea
subspecies and varieties
  • subsp. fastigiataWaldron
    • var. aequatorianaKrapov. & W. C. Greg
    • var. fastigiata(Waldron) Krapov. & W. C. Greg
    • var. peruvianaKrapov. & W. C. Greg
    • var. vulgarisHarz
  • subsp. hypogaeaL.
    • var. hirsutaJ. Kohler
    • var. hypogaeaL.
Synonyms [1]
  • Arachis nambyquaraeHoehne
  • Lathyrus esquiroliiH. Lév.

The peanut, also known as the groundnut, [2] goober (US), or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as Arachis hypogaea, is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both small and large commercial producers. It is classified as both a grain legume [3] and, due to its high oil content, an oil crop. [4] World annual production of shelled peanuts was 44 million tonnes in 2016, led by China with 38% of the world total. Atypically among legume crop plants, peanut pods develop underground (geocarpy) rather than aboveground. With this characteristic in mind, the botanist Linnaeus named the species hypogaea, which means "under the earth."

Taxonomy (biology) The science of identifying, describing, defining and naming groups of biological organisms

In biology, taxonomy is the science of naming, defining (circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics. Organisms are grouped together into taxa and these groups are given a taxonomic rank; groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a super-group of higher rank, thus creating a taxonomic hierarchy. The principal ranks in modern use are domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the founder of the current system of taxonomy, as he developed a system known as Linnaean taxonomy for categorizing organisms and binomial nomenclature for naming organisms.

Legume Plant in the family Fabaceae

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae, or the fruit or seed of such a plant. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind. Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a pod, although the term "pod" is also applied to a number of other fruit types, such as that of vanilla and of the radish.

Crop Plant or animal product which can be grown and harvested

A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crop may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquaculture. A crop is usually expanded to include macroscopic fungus, or alga (algaculture).


As a legume, the peanut belongs to the botanical family Fabaceae; this is also known as Leguminosae, and commonly known as the bean, or pea, family. [1] Like most other legumes, peanuts harbor symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. [5] This capacity to fix nitrogen means peanuts require less nitrogen-containing fertilizer and also improve soil fertility, making them valuable in crop rotations.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Fabaceae family of plants

The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, are a large and economically important family of flowering plants. It includes trees, shrubs, and perennial or annual herbaceous plants, which are easily recognized by their fruit (legume) and their compound, stipulate leaves. Many legumes have characteristic flowers and fruits. The family is widely distributed, and is the third-largest land plant family in number of species, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with about 751 genera and about 19,000 known species. The five largest of the genera are Astragalus, Acacia, Indigofera, Crotalaria, and Mimosa, which constitute about a quarter of all legume species. The ca. 19,000 known legume species amount to about 7% of flowering plant species. Fabaceae is the most common family found in tropical rainforests and in dry forests in the Americas and Africa.

Nitrogen fixation is a process by which molecular nitrogen in the air is converted into ammonia or related nitrogenous compounds in soil. Atmospheric nitrogen is molecular dinitrogen, a relatively nonreactive molecule that is metabolically useless to all but a few microorganisms. Biological nitrogen fixation converts N
into ammonia, which is metabolized by most organisms.

Peanuts are similar in taste and nutritional profile to tree nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, and as a culinary nut are often served in similar ways in Western cuisines. The botanical definition of a "nut" is a fruit whose ovary wall becomes hard at maturity. Using this criterion, the peanut is not a typical nut. [6] However, for culinary purposes and in common English language usage, peanuts are usually referred to as nuts.

Walnut edible seed

A walnut is the nut of any tree of the genus Juglans, particularly the Persian or English walnut, Juglans regia.

Almond Species of plant

The almond is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries but widely cultivated elsewhere. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.

Fruit Part of a flowering plant

In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

Peanuts Arachis-hypogaea-(peanuts).jpg


Cultivated peanuts (A. hypogaea) arose from a hybrid between two wild species of peanut, thought to be A. duranensis and A. ipaensis . [7] [8] [9] The initial hybrid would have been sterile, but spontaneous chromosome doubling restored its fertility, forming what is termed an amphidiploid or allotetraploid. [7] Genetic analysis suggests the hybridization event probably occurred only once and gave rise to A. monticola , a wild form of peanut that occurs in a few restricted locations in northwestern Argentina, and by artificial selection to A. hypogaea. [7] [8] [10] [11] The process of domestication through artificial selection made A. hypogaea dramatically different from its wild relatives. The domesticated plants are bushier and more compact, and have a different pod structure and larger seeds. The initial domestication may have taken place in northwestern Argentina, or in southeastern Bolivia, where the peanut landraces with the most wild-like features are grown today. [12] [13] From this primary center of origin, cultivation spread and formed secondary and tertiary centers of diversity in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Over time, thousands of peanut landraces evolved; these are classified into six botanical varieties and two subspecies (as listed in the peanut scientific classification table). Subspecies A. h. fastigiata types are more upright in their growth habit and have shorter crop cycles. Subspecies A. h. hypogaea types spread more on the ground and have longer crop cycles. [12] [13]

Hybrid (biology) offspring of cross-species reproduction

In biology, a hybrid is the offspring resulting from combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera through sexual reproduction. Hybrids are not always intermediates between their parents, but can show hybrid vigour, sometimes growing larger or taller than either parent. The concept of a hybrid is interpreted differently in animal and plant breeding, where there is interest in the individual parentage. In genetics, attention is focused on the numbers of chromosomes. In taxonomy, a key question is how closely related the parent species are.

<i>Arachis duranensis</i> species of plant

Arachis duranensis is a herb found in South America, specially Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. This plant is cited as gene sources for research in plant biology of peanut.

Arachis ipaensis is a herb in the Faboideae family. This plant is cited as gene sources for research in plant biology of peanut. Its genome has been sequenced.

The oldest known archeological remains of pods have been dated at about 7,600 years old. These may be pods from a wild species that was in cultivation, or A. hypogaea in the early phase of domestication. [14] They were found in Peru, where dry climatic conditions are favorable to the preservation of organic material. Almost certainly, peanut cultivation antedated this at the center of origin where the climate is moister. Many pre-Columbian cultures, such as the Moche, depicted peanuts in their art. [15] Cultivation was well established in Mesoamerica before the Spanish arrived. There, the conquistadors found the tlālcacahuatl (the plant's Nahuatl name, whence Mexican Spanish cacahuate, Castilian Spanish cacahuete, and French cacahuète) being offered for sale in the marketplace of Tenochtitlan. The peanut was later spread worldwide by European traders, and cultivation is now very widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. In West Africa, it substantially replaced a crop plant from the same family, the Bambara groundnut, whose seed pods also develop underground. In Asia, it became an agricultural mainstay and this region is now the largest producer in the world. [16]

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarily at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistadors were the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

In the English-speaking world, peanut growing is most important in the United States. Although it was mainly a garden crop for much of the colonial period, it was mostly used as animal feed stock until the 1930s. [17] The United States Department of Agriculture initiated a program to encourage agricultural production and human consumption of peanuts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. George Washington Carver developed hundreds of recipes for peanuts during his tenure in the program. The British Empire attempted to cultivate peanuts in East Africa after WWII, but failed.

English-speaking world Countries and regions where English is everyday language and people (or peoples) who speak English

Over 2 billion people speak English, making English the largest language by number of speakers, and the third largest language by number of native speakers. With 300 million native speakers, the United States of America is the largest English-speaking country. As pictured in the pie graph below, most native speakers of English are Americans.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Colonial history of the United States Aspect of history

The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European colonization of America from the early 16th century until the incorporation of the colonies into the United States of America. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands launched major colonization programs in America. The death rate was very high among those who arrived first, and some early attempts disappeared altogether, such as the English Lost Colony of Roanoke. Nevertheless, successful colonies were established within several decades.


Peanut flower Ground Nut flower.jpg
Peanut flower

Peanut is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm (1.0 to 1.6 ft) tall. [18] As a legume, it belongs to the botanical family Fabaceae (also known as Leguminosae, and commonly known as the bean or pea family). [1] Like most other legumes, peanuts harbor symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their root nodules. [5]

The leaves are opposite and pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet); each leaflet is 1 to 7 cm (⅜ to 2¾ in) long and 1 to 3 cm (⅜ to 1 in) across. Like many other legumes, the leaves are nyctinastic, that is, they have "sleep" movements, closing at night.

The flowers are 1.0 to 1.5 cm (0.4 to 0.6 in) across, and yellowish orange with reddish veining. [12] [13] They are borne in axillary clusters on the stems above ground and last for just one day. The ovary is located at the base of what appears to be the flower stem but is actually a highly elongated floral cup.

Peanut pods develop underground, an unusual feature known as geocarpy. [19] After fertilization, a short stalk at the base of the ovary (termed a pedicel) elongates to form a thread-like structure known as a "peg". This peg grows down into the soil, and the tip, which contains the ovary, develops into a mature peanut pod. [19] Pods are 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, normally containing one to four seeds. [12] [13]


Peanut seeds cut in half showing the embryos with cotyledons and primordial root. Peanut cotyledons.jpg
Peanut seeds cut in half showing the embryos with cotyledons and primordial root.

Parts of the peanut include:


Peanut pegs growing into the soil. The tip of the peg, once buried, swells and develops into a peanut fruit Arachis hypogaea 006.JPG
Peanut pegs growing into the soil. The tip of the peg, once buried, swells and develops into a peanut fruit
Cultivation of peanut crop at Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh region of Western India Cultivation of peanut crop in Junagadh region of Western India.jpg
Cultivation of peanut crop at Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh region of Western India
Harvest of peanuts Harvest of peanuts.jpg
Harvest of peanuts

Peanuts grow best in light, sandy loam soil with a pH of 5.9–7. Their capacity to fix nitrogen means that, providing they nodulate properly, peanuts benefit little or not at all from nitrogen-containing fertilizer, [20] and they improve soil fertility. Therefore, they are valuable in crop rotations. Also, the yield of the peanut crop itself is increased in rotations, through reduced diseases, pests and weeds. For instance, in Texas, peanuts in a three-year rotation with corn yield 50% more than nonrotated peanuts. [20] Adequate levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and micronutrients are also necessary for good yields. [20] To develop well, peanuts need warm weather throughout the growing season. They can be grown with as little as 350 mm (14 in) of water, [21] but for best yields need at least 500 mm (20 in). [22] Depending on growing conditions and the cultivar of peanut, harvest is usually 90 to 130 days after planting for subspecies A. h. fastigiata types, and 120 to 150 days after planting for subspecies A. h. hypogaea types. [21] [23] [24] Subspecies A. h. hypogaea types yield more, and are usually preferred where the growing seasons are long enough.

Peanut plants continue to produce flowers when pods are developing, therefore even when they are ready for harvest, some pods are immature. The timing of harvest is an important decision to maximize yield. If it is too early, too many pods will be unripe. If too late, the pods will snap off at the stalk, and will remain in the soil. [25] For harvesting, the entire plant, including most of the roots, is removed from the soil. [25] The pods are covered with a network of raised veins and are constricted between seeds.

Harvesting occurs in two stages: [26] In mechanized systems, a machine is used to cut off the main root of the peanut plant by cutting through the soil just below the level of the peanut pods. The machine lifts the "bush" from the ground and shakes it, then inverts the bush, leaving the plant upside down on the ground to keep the peanuts out of the soil. This allows the peanuts to dry slowly to a little less than a third of their original moisture level over a period of three to four days. Traditionally, peanuts were pulled and inverted by hand.

After the peanuts have dried sufficiently, they are threshed, removing the peanut pods from the rest of the bush. [25] It is particularly important that peanuts are dried properly and stored in dry conditions. If they are too high in moisture, or if storage conditions are poor, they may become infected by the mold fungus Aspergillus flavus . Many strains of this fungus release toxic and highly carcinogenic substances called aflatoxins.

Cultivars in the United States

There are many peanut cultivars grown around the world. The market classes grown in the United States are Spanish, Runner, Virginia, and Valencia. [27] Peanuts produced in the United States are divided into three major areas: the southeastern United States region which includes Alabama, Georgia, and Florida; the southwestern United States region which includes New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas; and the third region in the general eastern United States which include Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. [27]

Certain cultivar groups are preferred for particular characteristics, such as differences in flavor, oil content, size, shape, and disease resistance. [26] Most peanuts marketed in the shell are of the Virginia type, along with some Valencias selected for large size and the attractive appearance of the shell. Spanish peanuts are used mostly for peanut candy, salted nuts, and peanut butter.

Spanish group

The small Spanish types are grown in South Africa, and in the southwestern and southeastern United States. Prior to 1940, 90% of the peanuts grown in the US state of Georgia, were Spanish types, but the trend since then has been larger-seeded, higher-yielding, more disease-resistant cultivars. Spanish peanuts have a higher oil content than other types of peanuts. In the United States, the Spanish group is primarily grown in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. [27]

Cultivars of the Spanish group include 'Dixie Spanish', 'Improved Spanish 2B', 'GFA Spanish', 'Argentine', 'Spantex', 'Spanette', 'Shaffers Spanish', 'Natal Common (Spanish)', "White Kernel Varieties', 'Starr', 'Comet', 'Florispan', 'Spanhoma', 'Spancross', 'OLin', 'Tamspan 90', 'AT 9899–14', 'Spanco', 'Wilco I', 'GG 2', 'GG 4', 'TMV 2', and 'Tamnut 06'.

Runner group

Since 1940, the southeastern US region has seen a shift to production of Runner group peanuts. This shift is due to good flavor, better roasting characteristics and higher yields when compared to Spanish types, leading to food manufacturers' preference for the use in peanut butter and salted nuts. Georgia's production is now almost 100% Runner type. [26]

Cultivars of Runners include 'Southeastern Runner 56-15', 'Dixie Runner', 'Early Runner', 'Virginia Bunch 67', 'Bradford Runner', 'Egyptian Giant' (also known as 'Virginia Bunch' and 'Giant'), 'Rhodesian Spanish Bunch' (Valencia and Virginia Bunch), 'North Carolina Runner 56-15', 'Florunner', 'Virugard', 'Georgia Green', 'Tamrun 96', 'Flavor Runner 458', 'Tamrun OL01', 'Tamrun OL02' 'AT-120', 'Andru-93', 'Southern Runner', 'AT1-1', 'Georgia Brown', 'GK-7', and 'AT-108'.

Virginia group

The large-seeded Virginia group peanuts are grown in the US states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and parts of Georgia. They are increasing in popularity due to demand for large peanuts for processing, particularly for salting, confections, and roasting in the shells.

Virginia group peanuts are either bunch or running in growth habit. The bunch type is upright to spreading. It attains a height of 45 to 55 cm (18 to 22 in), and a spread of 70 to 80 cm (28 to 31 in), with 80-to-90 cm (31-to-35 in) rows that seldom cover the ground. The pods are borne within 5 to 10 cm of the base of the plant.

Cultivars of Virginia type peanuts include 'NC 7', 'NC 9', 'NC 10C', 'NC-V 11', 'VA 93B', 'NC 12C', 'VA-C 92R', 'Gregory', 'VA 98R', 'Perry', 'Wilson, 'Hull', 'AT VC-2' and' Shulamit'.

Valencia group

Valencia group peanuts are coarse, and they have heavy reddish stems and large foliage. In the United States, large commercial production is primarily in the South Plains of West Texas and eastern New Mexico near and south of Portales, New Mexico, but they are grown on a small scale elsewhere in the South as the best-flavored and preferred type for boiled peanuts. They are comparatively tall, having a height of 125 cm (49 in) and a spread of 75 cm (30 in). Peanut pods are borne on pegs arising from the main stem and the side branches. Most of the pods are clustered around the base of the plant, and only a few are found several inches away. Valencia types are three- to five-seeded and smooth, with no constriction of the shell between the seeds. Seeds are oval and tightly crowded into the pods. Typical seed weight is 0.4 to 0.5 g. This type is used heavily for sale roasted and salted in-shell peanuts and peanut butter. Varieties include 'Valencia A' and 'Valencia C'.

Tennessee Red and Tennessee White groups

These are alike, except for the color of the seed. Sometimes known also as Texas Red or White, the plants are similar to Valencia types, except the stems are green to greenish brown, and the pods are rough, irregular, and have a smaller proportion of kernels.

Production and trade

Peanut production, 2016
(millions of tonnes)
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China
Flag of India.svg  India
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria
Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan
Source: FAOSTAT, United Nations [16]

In 2016, world production of peanuts (reported as groundnuts in shells) was 44 million tonnes, led by China with 38% of the global total followed by India (16%) (table). Other significant producers were Nigeria, the United States, and Sudan. Major exporters in 2013 were India with 541,337 tonnes, which accounts for 32% of world total exports (1.7 million tonnes), and the United States with 19% of total exports. [28] The European Union imported 52% of the world supply of shelled peanuts in 2013, with the Netherlands alone accounting for 40% of the European total. [28]

In the United States, Georgia is the leading peanut-producing state, followed by Texas and Alabama, respectively. [29] About half of all peanuts produced in the US are grown within a 100 mi (160 km) radius of Dothan, Alabama. [30] Dothan is home to the National Peanut Festival established in 1938 and held each fall to honor peanut growers and celebrate the harvest. [31]

In China, peanuts are generally produced in South China, while the larger groundnuts are more common to Northern China. [32]


Peanut oil 4 gallons of peanut oil.jpg
Peanut oil
Peanut butter PeanutButter.jpg
Peanut butter

Whole peanuts

Roasted peanuts as snack food Peanutjar.jpg
Roasted peanuts as snack food

Dry-roasted peanuts are a common for of preparation. Dry peanuts can be roasted in the shell or shelled in a home oven if spread out one layer deep in a pan and baked at a temperature of 350 °F or 177 °C for 15 to 20 min (shelled) and 20 to 25 min (in shell).

Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the southern United States, as well as in India, China, and West Africa. In the US South, boiled peanuts are often prepared in briny water, and sold in street side stands.

A distinction can be drawn between raw and green peanuts. A green peanut is a term to describe farm fresh harvested peanuts that have not been dehydrated. They are available from grocery stores, food distributors and farmers markets, during the growing season. "Raw" peanuts are also uncooked but have been dried/dehydrated and must be rehydrated before boiling (usually in a bowl full of water overnight). Once rehydrated, the raw peanuts are ready to be boiled. [33]

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavor and a relatively high smoke point. Due to its high monounsaturated content, it is considered more healthful than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. The several types of peanut oil include: aromatic roasted peanut oil, refined peanut oil, extra virgin or cold-pressed peanut oil, and peanut extract. In the United States, refined peanut oil is exempt from allergen labeling laws. [34]

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a food paste or spread made from ground dry roasted peanuts. It often contains additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture, such as salt, sweeteners or emulsifiers. Peanut butter is served as a spread on bread, toast or crackers, and used to make sandwiches (notably the peanut butter and jelly sandwich). It is also used in a number of confections, such as peanut-flavored granola bars or croissants and other pastries. The United States [35] is a leading exporter of peanut butter and itself consumes $800 million of peanut butter annually. [36]

Peanut flour

Peanut flour is used as a gluten-free solution.


Fried curry peanuts Roasted Peanuts (2019).jpg
Fried curry peanuts
Boiled groundnuts (peanuts) Boiled Groundnut.jpg
Boiled groundnuts (peanuts)

Latin America

Peanuts are particularly common in Peruvian and Mexican cuisine, both of which marry indigenous and European ingredients. For instance, in Peru, a popular traditional dish is picante de cuy, [37] a roasted guinea pig served in a sauce of ground peanuts (ingredients native to South America) with roasted onions and garlic (ingredients from European cuisine). Also, in the Peruvian city of Arequipa, a dish called ocopa consists of a smooth sauce of roasted peanuts and hot peppers (both native to the region) with roasted onions, garlic, and oil, poured over meat or potatoes. [38] Another example is a fricassee combining a similar mixture with sautéed seafood or boiled and shredded chicken. These dishes are generally known as ajíes, meaning "hot peppers", such as ají de pollo and ají de mariscos (seafood ajíes may omit peanuts). In Mexico its is also used to prepare different traditional dishes, such as chicken in peanut sauce (encacahuatado) and is used as a main ingredient for the preparation of other famous dishes such as red pipián, mole poblano and oaxacan mole negro. [39]

Likewise, during colonial times in Peru, the Spanish used peanuts to replace nuts unavailable locally, but used extensively in Spanish cuisine, such as almonds and pine nuts, typically ground or as paste mixed with rice, meats, and vegetables for dishes like rice pilaf.

Throughout the region, many candies and snacks are made using peanuts. In Mexico, it is common to find them in different presentations as a snack or candy: salty, "Japanese" peanuts, praline, enchilados or in the form of a very nutritious traditional sweet made with peanuts and honey called palanqueta, and even as peanut marzipan.

West Asia

Crunchy coated peanuts, called kabukim in Hebrew, are a popular snack in Israel. Kabukim are commonly sold by weight at corner stores where fresh nuts and seeds are sold, though they are also available packaged. The coating typically consists of flour, salt, starch, lecithin, and sometimes sesame seeds. The origin of the name is obscure (it may be derived from kabuk which means nutshell or husk in Turkish). An additional variety of crunchy coated peanuts popular in Israel is "American peanuts". The coating of this variety is thinner, but harder to crack.

Bamba puffs are a popular snack in Israel. Their shape is similar to Cheez Doodles, but they are made of peanuts and corn.

Southeast Asia

Fried peanuts in the Philippines 9471Peanuts snack of the Philippines 06.jpg
Fried peanuts in the Philippines

Peanuts are also widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, such as in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, where they are typically made into a spicy sauce. Peanuts originally came to Indonesia from the Philippines, where the legume derived from Mexico in times of Spanish colonization. One Philippine dish using peanuts is kare-kare , a mixture of meat and peanut butter. Apart from being used in dishes, fried shelled peanuts are a common inexpensive snack in the Philippines with the peanuts commonly served plain salted with garlic chips and variants including adobo and chilli flavors.

Common Indonesian peanut-based dishes include gado-gado , pecel , karedok , and ketoprak , vegetable salads mixed with peanut sauce, and the peanut-based sauce, satay .

Indian subcontinent

In the Indian subcontinent, peanuts are a light snack, usually roasted and salted (sometimes with the addition of chilli powder), and often sold roasted in pods or boiled with salt. They are also made into dessert or sweet snack pieces by processing with refined sugar and jaggery. Indian cuisine uses roasted, crushed peanuts to give a crunchy body to salads; they are added whole (without pods) to leafy vegetable stews for the same reason. Another use is peanut oil for cooking. Most Indians use mustard, sunflower, and peanut oil for cooking. In South India, groundnut chutney is eaten with dosa and idli as breakfast. Peanuts are also used in sweets and savory items in South India and also as a flavor in tamarind rice. Kovilpatti is known for its sweet peanut chikki, which is also used in savory and sweet mixtures, such as Bombay mix.

West Africa

Peanuts grow well in southern Mali and adjacent regions of the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal; peanuts are similar in both agricultural and culinary qualities to the Bambara groundnut native to the region, and West Africans have adopted the crop as a staple. Peanut sauce, prepared with onions, garlic, peanut butter/paste, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower, can be vegetarian (the peanuts supplying ample protein) or prepared with meat, usually chicken.

Peanuts are used in the Malian meat stew maafe . In Ghana, peanut butter is used for peanut butter soup nkate nkwan. [40] Crushed peanuts may also be used for peanut candies nkate cake and kuli-kuli , as well as other local foods such as oto. [40] Peanut butter is an ingredient in Nigeria's "African salad". Peanut powder is an important ingredient in the spicy coating for kebabs in Nigeria and Ghana.

East Africa

Peanuts are a common ingredient of several types of relishes (dishes which accompany nshima ) eaten in Malawi and in the eastern part of Zambia, and these dishes are common throughout both countries. Thick peanut butter sauces are also made in Uganda to serve with rice and other starchy foods. Groundnut stew, called ebinyebwa in Luganda-speaking areas of Uganda, is made by boiling ground peanut flour with other ingredients, such as cabbage, mushrooms, dried fish, meat or other vegetables. [41] Across East Africa, roasted peanuts, often in cones of newspaper, are obtained from street vendors.

North America

In Canada and the United States, peanuts are used in candies, cakes, cookies, and other sweets. Individually, they are eaten dry-roasted with or without salt. Ninety-five percent of Canadians eat peanuts or peanut butter, with average consumption of 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) of peanuts per person annually, and 79% of Canadians consuming peanut butter weekly. [42] In the United States, peanuts and peanut butter are central to American dietary practices, and are typically considered as comfort foods. [43] Peanut butter is a common peanut-based food, representing half of American total peanut consumption and $850 million in annual retail sales. [44] Peanut soup is found on restaurant menus in the southeastern states. [45] In some southern portions of the US, peanuts are boiled for several hours until soft and moist. [46] Peanuts are also deep-fried, sometimes within the shell. Per person, Americans eat 6 pounds (2.7 kg) of peanut products annually, spending a total of $2 billion in peanut retail purchases. [44]


Peanuts are used to help fight malnutrition. Plumpy Nut, MANA Nutrition, [47] and Medika Mamba [48] are high-protein, high-energy, and high-nutrient peanut-based pastes developed to be used as therapeutic food to aid in famine relief. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, Project Peanut Butter, and Doctors Without Borders have used these products to help save malnourished children in developing countries.

Peanuts can be used like other legumes and grains to make a lactose-free, milk-like beverage, peanut milk, which is promoted in Africa as a way to reduce malnutrition among children.

Animal feed

Peanut plant tops and crop residues can be used for hay. [49]

The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is used as an animal feed and as a soil fertilizer. Groundnut cake is a livestock feed, mostly used by cattle as protein supplements. [50] It is one of the most important and valuable feed for all types of livestocks and one of the most active ingredient for poultry rations. [51] Poor storage of the cake may sometimes result in its contamination by aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mycotoxin that is produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus . [52] The major constituents of the cake are essential amino acids such as lysine and glutamine. Other components are crude fiber, crude protein, and fat. [53]

Some peanuts can also be fed whole to livestock, for example those in excess of the peanut quota in the USA, or those with a higher aflatoxin content than that permitted by the food regulations. [54]

Peanut processing often requires dehulling: the hulls generated in large amounts by the peanut industries can then be used to feed livestock, particularly ruminants. [55]

Industrial use

Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion is used in the manufacture of some textile fibers. Peanut shells are used in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, fuel, cellulose (used in rayon and paper), and mucilage (glue).

Nutritional value

Peanut, valencia, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,385 kJ (570 kcal)
21 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Dietary fiber 9 g
48 g
Saturated 7 g
Monounsaturated 24 g
Polyunsaturated 16 g
25 g
Tryptophan 0.2445 g
Threonine 0.859 g
Isoleucine 0.882 g
Leucine 1.627 g
Lysine 0.901 g
Methionine 0.308 g
Cystine 0.322 g
Phenylalanine 1.300 g
Tyrosine 1.020 g
Valine 1.052 g
Arginine 3.001 g
Histidine 0.634 g
Alanine 0.997 g
Aspartic acid 3.060 g
Glutamic acid 5.243 g
Glycine 1.512 g
Proline 1.107 g
Serine 1.236 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.6 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.3 mg
Niacin (B3)
12.9 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
1.8 mg
Vitamin B6
0.3 mg
Folate (B9)
246 μg
Vitamin C
0.0 mg
Vitamin E
6.6 mg
Minerals Quantity%DV
62 mg
2 mg
184 mg
2.0 mg
336 mg
332 mg
3.3 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water4.26 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Peanuts are rich in essential nutrients (right table, USDA nutrient data). In a 100 g serving, peanuts provide 570 calories and are an excellent source (defined as more than 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of several B vitamins, vitamin E, several dietary minerals, such as manganese (95% DV), magnesium (52% DV) and phosphorus (48% DV), and dietary fiber (right table). They also contain about 25 g protein per 100 g serving, a higher proportion than in many tree nuts. [56]

Some studies show that regular consumption of peanuts is associated with a lower specific risk of mortality from certain diseases. [57] [58] However, the study designs do not allow cause and effect to be inferred. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (such as peanuts) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." [59]


Peanuts contain polyphenols, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, phytosterols and dietary fiber in amounts similar to several tree nuts. [58]

Peanut skins contain resveratrol which is under preliminary research for its potential effects in humans. [60] [61]

Oil composition

A common cooking and salad oil, peanut oil is 46% monounsaturated fats (primarily oleic acid), 32% polyunsaturated fats (primarily linoleic acid), and 17% saturated fats (primarily palmitic acid). [62] [63] Extractable from whole peanuts using a simple water and centrifugation method, the oil is being considered by NASA's Advanced Life Support program for future long-duration human space missions. [64]

Health concerns


Some people (0.6% [65] of the United States population) report that they experience allergic reactions to peanut exposure; symptoms are specifically severe for this nut, and can range from watery eyes to anaphylactic shock, which is generally fatal if untreated. Eating a small amount of peanut can cause a reaction. Because of their widespread use in prepared and packaged foods, the avoidance of peanuts can be difficult. The reading of ingredients and warnings on product packaging is necessary to avoid this allergen. Foods that are processed in facilities which also handle peanuts on the same equipment as other foods are required to carry such warnings on their labels. Avoiding cross contamination with peanuts and peanut products, (along with other severe allergens like shellfish) is a promoted and common practice which chefs and restaurants worldwide are becoming aware of.

The hygiene hypothesis of allergy states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents like germs and parasites could be causing the increase of food allergies. [66]

Studies comparing age of peanut introduction in Great Britain with introduction in Israel showed that delaying exposure to peanuts in childhood can dramatically increase the risk of developing peanut allergies. [67] [68]

Peanut allergy has been associated with the use of skin preparations containing peanut oil among children, but the evidence is not regarded as conclusive. [69] Peanut allergies have also been associated with family history and intake of soy products. [69]

Some school districts in the United States and elsewhere have banned peanuts. [70] [71] [72] However, the efficacy of the bans in reducing allergic reactions is uncertain. A recent study in Canada has shown that there is no difference in the percentage of accidental exposures occurring in schools prohibiting peanuts than in schools allowing them. [73]

Refined peanut oil will not cause allergic reactions in most people with peanut allergies. [74] However, crude (unrefined) peanut oils have been shown to contain protein, which may cause allergic reactions. [75] In a randomized, double-blind crossover study, 60 people with proven peanut allergy were challenged with both crude peanut oil and refined peanut oil. The authors concluded, "Crude peanut oil caused allergic reactions in 10% of allergic subjects studied and should continue to be avoided." They also stated, "Refined peanut oil does not seem to pose a risk to most people with peanut allergy." However, they point out that refined peanut oil can still pose a risk to peanut-allergic individuals if oil that has previously been used to cook foods containing peanuts is reused. [76]

Contamination with aflatoxin

If peanut plants are subjected to severe drought during pod formation, or if pods are not properly stored, they may become contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which may produce carcinogenic substances called aflatoxins. Lower-quality peanuts, particularly where mold is evident, are more likely to be contaminated. [77] The United States Department of Agriculture tests every truckload of raw peanuts for aflatoxin; any containing aflatoxin levels of more than 15 parts per billion are destroyed. The peanut industry has manufacturing steps in place to ensure all peanuts are inspected for aflatoxin. [78] Peanuts tested to have high aflatoxin are used to make peanut oil where the mold can be removed. [79]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sunflower seed fruit of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower. There are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds: linoleic, high oleic, and sunflower oil seeds. Each variety has its own unique levels of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats. The information in this article refers mainly to the linoleic variety.

Sesame species of plant

Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum, also called benne. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. World production in 2016 was 6.1 million tonnes, with Tanzania, Myanmar, India, and Sudan as the largest producers.

Groundnut may refer to:

Peanut butter spread made from ground, typically dry roasted, peanuts

Peanut butter is a food paste or spread made from ground dry-roasted peanuts. It often contains additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture, such as salt, sweeteners, or emulsifiers. Peanut butter is popular in many countries. The United States is a leading exporter of peanut butter and itself consumes $800 million of peanut butter annually.

<i>Vigna subterranea</i> Species of plant

Vigna subterranea is a member of the family Fabaceae. The plant originated in West Africa. Vigna subterranea ripens its pods underground, much like the peanut. They can be eaten fresh or boiled after drying.

Boiled peanuts

Boiled peanuts are popular in some places where peanuts are common. Fully mature peanuts do not make good quality boiled peanuts; rather raw or green ones are used. Raw denotes peanuts in a semi-mature state, having achieved full size, but not being fully dried, as would be needed for roasting or peanut butter use. Green denotes freshly harvested and undried peanuts that must be refrigerated. After boiling in salt water they take on a strong salty taste, becoming softer with prolonged cooking, and somewhat resembling a pea or bean, to which they are related because they are legumes and only a nut in the culinary sense.

Peanut oil mild-tasting vegetable oil derived from peanuts

Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil or arachis oil, is a vegetable oil derived from peanuts. The oil has a strong peanut flavor and aroma. It is often used in American, Chinese, South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, both for general cooking, and in the case of roasted oil, for added flavor.

Congolese cuisine Wikimedia disambiguation page

The cuisine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo varies widely, representing the food of indigenous people. Cassava, fufu, rice, plantain and potatoes are generally the staple foods eaten with other side dishes.

Peanut sauce food

Peanut sauce, satay sauce, bumbu kacang, sambal kacang, or pecel is a sauce made from ground roasted or fried peanuts, widely used in cuisines worldwide.

Almond butter

Almond butter is a food paste made from grinding almonds into a nut butter. Almond butter may be "crunchy" or "smooth", and is generally "stir" or "no-stir" (emulsified). Almond butter may be either raw or roasted, but this describes the almonds themselves, prior to grinding. It is recommended that almond butter be refrigerated once opened to prevent spoilage and oil separation.

Tree nut allergy Allergic reaction to tree nuts that is triggered by the immune system

A tree nut allergy is a hypersensitivity to dietary substances from tree nuts and edible tree seeds causing an overreaction of the immune system which may lead to severe physical symptoms. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, shea nuts and walnuts.

Mycosphaerella berkeleyi is a fungal plant pathogen. It is the causal agent of the peanut foliar disease Late Leaf Spot.

Sphaceloma arachidis is a plant pathogen infecting peanuts.

Ara h1

Ara h 1 is a seed storage protein from Arachis hypogaea (peanuts). It is a heat stable 7S vicilin-like globulin with a stable trimeric form that comprises 12-16% of the total protein in peanut extracts. Ara h 1 is known because sensitization to it was found in 95% of peanut-allergic patients from North America. In spite of this high percentage, peanut-allergic patients of European populations have fewer sensitizations to Ara h 1.

Peanut production in China

Peanut production in China contributes to the national economy.

Ara h 3

Ara h 3 is a seed storage protein from Arachis hypogaea (peanuts). It is a heat stable 11S legumin-like globulin with a stable trimeric form that comprises 19% of the total protein in peanut extracts.

Baru seed A legume cultivated for its seeds

The baru seed, also known as the baru nut, baru almond, or chiquitanian almond, and taxonomically classified as Dipteryx alata Vogel, is an undomesticated, primitive legume crop. It is a wild species, widespread across the Cerrado savanna in South America. It is classified as a tertiary grain legume, as its supply chain is still very limited. Atypically among legume crop plants, baru seeds develop from a tree, and are dispersed by animals, particularly birds, bats and rodents.


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