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Peanuts Nutrition Facts

Despite their name, peanuts aren't really nuts at all but legumes like lentils and black beans. And the same heart-protective chemical found in red wine, resveratrol, is also found in the red skin of peanuts.

Peanuts contain high quality plant protein. When comparing peanuts to similar foods, peanuts have more protein than any other legume or nut. This, according to the Peanut Institute, is especially important for children, vegetarians and people eating more meatless meals.

Peanuts contain mostly beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats as compared to saturated fats have been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels. Lowering your blood cholesterol level may reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.

One ounce, or one small handful of peanuts contains 2 big grams of fiber. This is 9% of the fiber you need each day! One ounce of peanuts provide 16% of your daily need of vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to act as an antioxidant which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Peanuts are an important source of essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, and a good source of folate (vitamin B9).

With all these nutrients, it's no wonder that regular peanut munching has health benefits that can be measured in research studies. One study of more than 30,000 women done at Loma Linda University in California found that women who ate peanuts and other nuts four times a week or more had half the risk of heart attacks compared with women who ate peanuts less than once a week.

China leads in production of peanuts, producing 37.5% of the world's production followed by India (19%) and Nigeria (11%).The peanut was introduced to China by Portuguese traders in the 1600s and another variety by American missionaries in the 1800s. 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 has been China's move away from a communist economic system toward a free market system so that farmers are free to grow and market their crops as they decide.

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