Peanuts are almost ubiquitous in the U.S. culture: baseball games, circus elephants, cocktail snacks, and the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yet, contrary to what their name implies, technically, peanuts are not nuts. They are, in botanical fact, legumes and are related to other foods in the legume family including peas, lentils, chickpeas and other beans.
Peanuts grow in a very fascinating manner. They actually start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground. The flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut actually matures. The veined brown shell or pod of the peanut contains two or three peanut kernels. Each oval-shaped kernel or seed is comprised of two off-white lobes that are covered by a brownish-red skin. Peanuts have a hardy, buttery and "nutty" taste.
Peanuts are a very good source of monounsaturated fats, the type of fat that is emphasized in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Studies of diets with a special emphasis on peanuts have shown that this little legume is a big ally for a healthy heart. In one such randomized, double-blind,