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Peanut

Botanical Name :Arachis hypogaea
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Aeschynomeneae
Genus: Arachis
Species: A. hypogaea
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophyta
Class: Magnoliophyta
Order: Fabales

Common Names:Mungfali, Mung Phali, Chinibadam, Buchanaka, Shimbika, Mandapi, Ground Nut, Monkey nut, Pea nut,Earthnuts, Goober peas, Monkey nuts, Pygmy nuts and Pig nuts.

Bengali Name: China badam

Habitat :The peanut plant (Arachis hypogea) is a legume that is native to South America.The cultivated peanut was probably first domesticated in the valleys of Perú. (it now grows in warm areas around the world).

Description:
The peanut is in “bean” family (Fabaceae).  It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm.  The leaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet 1 to 7 cm.   long and 1 to 3 cm.  broad. The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm.   across, yellow with reddish veining. After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 3 to 7 cm.  long, containing 1 to 4 seeds, which forces its way underground to mature. Hypogaea means “under the earth.”

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The peanut was introduced to China by Portuguese traders in the 17th century and another variety by American missionaries in the 19th century.

They became popular and are featured in many Chinese dishes, often being boiled. During the 1980s peanut production began to increase greatly so that as of 2006 China was the world’s largest peanut producer. A major factor in this increase was the household-responsibility system, which moved financial control from the government to the farmers.

Cultivation:
The orange veined, yellow petaled, pea-like flower of the Arachis hypogaea is borne in axillary clusters above ground. Following self-pollination, the flowers fade and wither. The stalk at the base of the ovary, called the pedicel, elongates rapidly, and turns downward to bury the fruits several inches in the ground, where they complete their development. The entire plant, including most of the roots, is removed from the soil during harvesting.

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The pods act in nutrient absorption. The fruits have wrinkled shells that are constricted between pairs of the one to four (usually two) seeds per pod.

Peanuts grow best in light, sandy loam soil. They require five months of warm weather, and an annual rainfall of 500 to 1,000 mm (20 to 39 in) or the equivalent in irrigation water.

The pods ripen 120 to 150 days after the seeds are planted. If the crop is harvested too early, the pods will be unripe. If they are harvested late, the pods will snap off at the stalk, and will remain in the soil.

Peanuts are particularly susceptible to contamination during growth and storage. Poor storage of peanuts can lead to an infection by the mold fungus Aspergillus flavus, releasing the toxic substance aflatoxin. The aflatoxin-producing molds exist throughout the peanut growing areas and may produce aflatoxin in peanuts when conditions are favorable to fungal growth.

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Harvesting occurs in two stages. 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 dirt. This allows the peanuts to dry slowly to a bit less than a third of their original moisture level over a period of 3–4 days. Traditionally, peanuts are pulled and inverted by hand.

After the peanuts have dried sufficiently, they are threshed, removing the peanut pods from the rest of the bush

Uses
Peanuts are found in a wide range of grocery products.Popular confections include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, candy bars, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail size, plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted, salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their inexpensiveness compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. The primary use of peanut butter is in the home, but large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, candy, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and typically eaten as a snack in the southern United States where most peanuts are grown. More recently, fried peanut recipes have emerged – allowing both shell and nut to be eaten. Peanuts are also used in cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints (see George Washington Carver, who described a large amount of uses for peanuts).

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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 healthy than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. There are several types of peanut oil including: 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.

Peanut flour…..
Peanut flour is lower in fat than peanut butter, and is popular with chefs because its high protein content makes it suitable as a flavor enhancer.   Peanut flour is used as a gluten-free solution.

Boiled peanuts….
Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the southern United States, as well as in India and China. Peanuts are also used in the Mali meat stew maafe, and in many sauces for South American meat dishes, especially rabbit.

Peanuts can be used like other legumes and grains to make a lactose-free milk-like beverage, peanut milk. Peanut plant tops are used for hay.

Low grade or culled peanuts not suitable for the edible market are used in the production of peanut oil. The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is used as an animal feed and as a soil fertilizer. Low grade peanuts are also widely sold as a garden bird feed.

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 of the oil 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). Rudolf Diesel ran some of the first engines that bear his name on peanut oil   and it is still seen as a potentially useful fuel.


HEALTH BENEFITS :->

Peanuts are used to help fight malnutrition. Plumpy Nut and Medika Mamba[10] are high protein, high energy and high nutrient peanut-based pastes that were developed to be used as a therapeutic food to aid in famine relief. Organizations like 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 are rich in nutrients, providing over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. Peanuts are a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. They also are naturally free of trans-fats and sodium, and contain about 25% protein (a higher proportion than in any true nut).

While peanuts are considered high in fat, they primarily contain “good” fats also known as unsaturated fats. One serving of peanuts contains 11.5 g unsaturated fat and 2 g of saturated fat. In fact, peanuts have been linked well enough to their heart-healthy benefits. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration released a health claim recognizing peanuts in helping maintain one’s cholesterol:

Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some brands of peanut butter are fortified with omega-3 fatty acid in the form of flaxseed oil to balance the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Niacin
Peanuts are a good source of niacin, and thus contribute to brain health and blood flow.

Antioxidants
Recent research on peanuts and nuts in general has found antioxidants and other chemicals that may provide health benefits.  New research shows peanuts rival the antioxidant content of many fruits. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than carrots or beets. Research conducted by a team of University of Florida scientists, published in the journal Food Chemistry, shows that peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid, and that roasting can increase peanuts’ p-coumaric acid levels, boosting their overall antioxidant content by as much as 22%.

Medicinal Uses:

The seeds have been used in folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac and decoagulant. Peanuts play a small role in various folk pharmacopoeias. In China the nuts are considered demulcent, pectoral, and peptic; the oil aperient and emollient, taken internally in milk for treating gonorrhea, externally for treating rheumatism. In Zimbabwe the peanut is used in folk remedies for plantar warts. Hemostatic and vasoconstrictor activity are reported. The alcoholic extract is said to affect isolated smooth muscles and frog hearts like acetylcholine. The alcoholic lipoid fraction of the seed is said to prevent hemophiliac tendencies and for the treatment of some blood disorders (mucorrhagia and arthritic hemorrhages) in hemophilia.  The red papery skins are one of the best dietary sources of oligomeric procyanidins, which are compounds that decrease capillary fragility and permeability, helping to prevent and treat varicose veins

Resveratrol
Peanuts are a significant source of resveratrol, a chemical studied for potential anti-aging effects and also associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and reduced cancer risk.

It has recently been found that the average amount of resveratrol in one ounce of commonly eaten peanuts (15 whole peanut kernels) is 73 g.

Coenzyme Q10
Peanuts are a source of coenzyme Q10, as are oily fish, beef, soybeans and spinach.

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HEALTH ALART ->
Allergies:-…….
Some people (0.6–1% of the US population) have mild to severe allergic reactions. For some people with peanut allergy, exposure can cause fatal anaphylactic shock. For these individuals, eating a small amount of peanut or just breathing the dust from peanuts[citation needed] can cause a fatal reaction. An allergic reaction also can be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed peanuts,[citation needed] making the avoidance of such food difficult.

A theory of the development of peanut allergy has to do with the way peanuts are processed in North America versus other countries, like China and India. Peanuts are widely eaten in China and India, but peanut allergies are almost unheard of there. According to a 2003 study, roasting peanuts, as more commonly done in North America, causes the major peanut allergen Ara h2 to become a stronger inhibitor of the digestive enzyme trypsin, making it more resistant to digestion. Additionally, this allergen has also been shown to protect Ara h1, another major peanut allergen, from digestion—a characteristic further enhanced by roasting.

Another theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents like germs and parasites could be causing the increase of food allergies.

Recent (2008) studies comparing age of peanut introduction in Great Britain with introduction in Israel appear to show that delaying exposure to peanuts can dramatically increase the risk of developing peanut allergies.

Results from some animal studies (and limited evidence from human subjects) suggest that the dose of peanuts is an important mediator of peanut sensitisation and tolerance; low doses tend to lead to sensitisation and higher doses tend to lead to tolerance.

Though the allergy can last a lifetime, another 2003 study indicates that 23.3% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy.

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

Some school districts in the U.S.A have banned peanuts. There are experimental techniques which appear to have desensitized some allergic individuals. The most popular technique, oral immunotherapy, works to create desensitization in those peanut allergic by feeding them small amounts of peanut until their body becomes desensitized.

Research indicates that refined peanut oil will not cause allergic reactions in most people with peanut allergies. However, crude (unrefined) peanut oils are strongly flavoured, and have been shown to contain protein, which may cause allergic reactions.

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 conclude, “Crude peanut oil caused allergic reactions in 10% of allergic subjects studied and should continue to be avoided.” They also state, “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.

Some progress is possibly being made in the UK, where researchers at Cambridge are studying the effectiveness of the desensitization technique.

Contamination and aflatoxin
Peanuts may be contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin. Lower quality specimens, particularly where mold is evident, are more likely to be contaminated. USDA tests every truckload of raw peanuts for aflatoxin; any containing aflatoxin levels of more than 20 parts per billion are destroyed. The peanut industry has manufacturing steps in place to ensure all peanuts are inspected for aflatoxin. Peanuts are also processed at a high temperature to ensure any microorganisms are killed.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/plants/pages/peanutplant.shtml

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_OPQ.htm

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Low Doses of Allergens May Cure Food Allergies ?

Researchers have found some success treating allergic children with very, very low doses of the allergenic substances such as milk or peanuts. One study had 33 children with peanut allergies eat peanut protein powder equivalent to one-thousandth of a peanut. Four of the children had to drop out because of allergic reactions, but six of nine children who stuck with the program for a few years are currently reaction-free regarding peanuts.
……..eating peanut butter sandwitch
Previous attempts to desensitize people to food allergies often triggered potentially life-threatening reactions. But the new studies use just the protein within foods such as milk and peanuts that trigger allergic reactions.

Researchers still consider this to be a very early and experimental method, and warn parents not to try it at home. There is still always the risk of triggering dangerous allergic reactions.

Sources:
Live Science June 9, 2009
The Washington Post June 9, 2009

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Sesame seeds

Chung Po MookImage by Pabo76 via Flickr

 

Botanical name: Sesamum Indicum, Sesamum Orientale.
Family: Pedaliaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Sesamum
Species: S. indicum

Other names: Benne, Bene, Oil Plant, Vangloe, Tilseed, Teel, Teel-seed, gingili.

Habitat : Sesamum Indicum is possibly native to Africa

Description:
Magnified image of white sesame seedsIt is an annual plant growing 50 to 100 cm (1.6 to 3.3 ft) tall, with opposite leaves 4 to 14 cm (1.6 to 5.5 in) long with an entire margin; they are broad lanceolate, to 5 cm (2 in) broad, at the base of the plant, narrowing to just 1 cm (0.4 in) broad on the flowering stem……..click  & see the pictures

The flowers are yellow, tubular, 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) long, with a four-lobed mouth. The flowers may vary in colour with some being white, blue or purple.

Sesame fruit is a capsule, normally pubescent, rectangular in section and typically grooved with a short triangular beak. The length of the fruit capsule varies from 2 to 8 cm, its width varies between 0.5 to 2 cm, and the number of loculi from 4 to 12. The fruit naturally splits opens (dehisces) to release the seeds by splitting along the septa from top to bottom or by means of two apical pores, depending on the varietal cultivar. The degree of dehiscence is of importance in breeding for mechanised harvesting as is the insertion height of the first capsule.

Sesame seeds are small. The size, form and colours vary with the thousands of varieties now known. Typically, the seeds are about 3 to 4 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide and 1 millimeter thick. The seeds are ovate, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed (hilum) than at the opposite end. The weight of the seeds are between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat (testa) may be smooth or ribbed. CLICK & SEE

Sesame seeds come in many colours depending on the cultivar harvested. The most traded variety of sesame is off-white coloured. Other common colours are buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray and black.

Sesame seed is sometimes sold with its seed coat removed (decorticated). This is the variety often present on top of buns in developed economies

African slaves brought sesame seeds, which they called benné seeds, to America, where they became a popular ingredient in Southern dishes.

Sesame seeds can be sprinkled on breads or on main dishes and vegetables to add a mild nutty flavor.
Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds which is used in many Near and Far East recipes. You can purchase it prepared in most markets, or make your own.

Sesame seed oil is still the main source of fat used in cooking in the Near and Far East.
.Sesame plant

Plants in the field

Sesame Seeds is neither a herb or a spice but one of the oldest annual plants grown for its seeds and oil. It is native to Africa and Asia but today is grown in China, India, Mexico and southwest United States as a commercial crop.

Sesame seeds come in a variety of colors depending on the plant variety, including shades of brown, red, black, yellow, and most commonly, a pale grayish ivory. The darker seeds are said to be more flavorful.

Cultivation:
Sesame is grown in many parts of the world on over 5 million acres (20,000 km²). The largest producer of the crop in 2007 was China, followed by India, Myanmar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria. Seventy percent of the world’s sesame crop is grown in Asia, with Africa growing 26%.

Beginning in the 1950s, U.S. production of the crop has been largely centered in Texas, with acerage fluctuating between 10,000 to 20,000 acres (40 to 80 km²) in recent years. The country’s crop does not make up a significant global source; indeed imports have now outstripped domestic production

Aroma and Flavour: In spite of their high oil content, sesame seeds have little aroma, but when they are dry-fried their nutty aroma is very pronounced and their flavor heightened.

Culinary Use: Sesame oil is used in margarines and as a cooking medium and a flavouring ingredient. The seeds are ground to an oily, beige-coloured paste known as tahini, which is used in hummus, a Middle Eastern dip. Sometimes the tahini is mixed with lemon juice and gralic and used as a dip with hot pitta bread as starter or picnic food.

The Chinese are fond of sesame; sesame oil is widely used in Chinese cooking as a flavouring. The seeds are also used, for example sesame prawn toasts are scattered with seeds before they are deep-fried. They are also sprinkled over Chinese toffee apples, pieces of apple fried in a light batter and coated in caramel. Both oil and seeds are sued in the cooking of other Far Eastern countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Gomasio is a Japanese specialty using sesame seeds: s mixture of the ground seeds and salt sued as a seasoning.

The seeds are popular scattered on bread, sweet and savoury biscuits, particularly in Greece and Turkey.

white sesame seeds

Medicinal and Other Use: Sesame is used in laxatives, as an emollient and in poultices. Sesame oil, also called gingelly oil, is highly stable and it does not become rancid quickly in hot humid conditions; it is used in lubricants, soap, cosmetics and ointments. The mixture or ‘cake’ that remains after the pressing of the oil is full of protein and eaten as a subsistence food.
Sesame is a member of the Pedaliaceae family. It is native to tropical Asian countries. The sesame plant can grow to a height of three feet and is an annual herb. It is an erect plant covered in fine hair and has a square stem. The leaves are flat, lanceolate in shape and grow in clusters of twos and threes. The flowers are pinkish purple in color or white and are bell shaped. Sesame is planted in the month of May and is harvested by fall or autumn. The name sesame is derived from Middle English sisame and from the Latin sesamum.

Interestingly, nutrients from one seed to another vary, but they all contain protein, oils (oleic acid, liuoleic acid, palmitoleic acid, araehidic acid and tetracosanoic acid) lecithin, minerals (Ca, P, K, Fe) saccharide, cellulose, VB2, VE, niacin, folic acid, sterol, sesamd, sesamin and cytochrome C. Unhulled seeds contain more calcium then hulled seeds.

Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man dating back to as early as 1600 BC. They are highly valued for their oil which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity. “Open sesame,” the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. The scientific name for sesame seeds is Sesamun indicum.

Copper Provides Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Magnesium Supports Vascular and Respiratory Health,

Calcium Helps Prevent Colon Cancer, Osteoporosis, Migraine and PMS, Zinc for Bone Health and Sesame Seeds’ Phytosterols Lower Cholesterol

Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.
The oils extracted from pressed seeds are used as cooking oil, as a salad oil and in making margarine. The seeds are sprinkled on top of breads and other baked goods. Dried sesame powder is mixed with hot water and sugar to from a congee that is eaten as a dessert.Sesame oil is also used as a pharmaceutic solvent, and sesamolin is also used as a synergist for pyrethrum insecticides

Sesame is supposed to tonify kidney, liver and relax the bowel. It is used for the treatment of constipation due to hard stools, tinnitus, anaemia, clizziness and poor vision. Mix powdered toasted sesame seeds with ground tuckahoe. Stir one to two teaspoonful into warm water and take in the mornings.

Infuse the leaves in some hot boiling water and use this to gargle and treat inflamed membranes of the mouth. Use only after tea has cooled down.

In traditional Chinese medicine, black sesame seeds have sweet and neutral properties, and are associated with the Kidney and Liver meridians. They function to tonify yin jing and blood, moisten the intestines, and help build the spirit, or shen.

Women of ancient Babylon would eat halva, a mixture of honey and sesame seeds to prolong youth and beauty, while Roman soldiers ate the mixture for strength and energy .

Sesame seeds produce an allergic reaction in a small percentage of the general population (5-13 per 100).

There have been erroneous claims that sesame seeds also contain THC which may be detectable on random screening. This error stems from a misunderstanding of the commercial drug Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC. The normal delivery mechanism for synthetic Dronabinol is via infusion into sesame oil and encapsulation into soft gelatin capsules. As a result some people are under the mistaken assumption that sesame oil naturally contains THC. In fact, THC, CBD, CBN and the other cannibinoids are unique to the Cannabis genus.

Sesame oil is used for massage and health treatments of the body in the ancient Indian ayurvedic system with the types of massage called abhyanga and shirodhara. Ayurveda views sesame oil as the most viscous of the plant oils and believes it may pacify the health problems associated with Vata aggravation.

Black sesame seeds are an extremely good source of calcium; studies have shown that one gram of seeds contains approximately 85 milligrams of calcium. Black sesame seeds also have high amounts of protein, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. In some patients, black sesame seeds are used to help patients recover from serious illnesses and fevers, treat constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Some practitioners recommend using black sesame seeds with polygonum to keep a person’s hair looking rich and dark.

You may click & read : The sesame wonder

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:
http://www.hungrymonster.com/FoodFacts/Food_Facts.cfm?Phrase_vch=Herbs&fid=5905,
http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/herbcentral/blacksesameseeds.html and
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84
http://www.hotel-club-thailand.com/thai-cooking/thai-spices.htm
http://www.lowfatlifestyle.com/flavoring/herbs_spices/sesame.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sesame_seed

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