Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2017
Publication Date: 10/21/2017
Citation: Dean, L.L. 2017. Peanuts as a functional food ingredient. American Society of Agronomy. Abstract number: 187-3.
Interpretive Summary: Peanuts are the seed of the peanut plant. They are a valuable food source in themselves world wide. Once roasted, they can also be used as an ingredient in a range of foods. This greatly widens the market for them as an agricultural commodity. Newer types of peanuts have contain fatty acids that make the oil comparable to olive oil in health properties. They contain more protein than tree nuts and this protein can be isolated and used in other foods. The skins are considered a waste product of the peanut processing industry but they contain chemical compounds similar to those in tea and chocolate that can be isolated and used to increase the bioactivity of other foods. The cavat that peanuts are a food allergen must be kept in mind when using peanut as an ingredient in other foods and must be prominently labelled as such.
Technical Abstract: The seeds of the peanut plant have long been prized for their pleasant roasted flavor and well as their significant contents of high quality protein and favorable lipid profiles. They are widely grown in the U.S. from Virginia, across the south and as far west as California. At present, they represent a value of over a billion dollars at the farm level. Despite their high caloric levels, newer cultivars are now in wide spread production with fatty acid profiles similar to olive oil. Peanut lipids containing up to 80% oleic acid are currently being produced. Seeds that peanuts lack the functional fatty acid dehydrogenase genes that encode the enzyme that converts oleic to linoleic acid have been introduced by conventional peanut plant breeding programs into commercial lines. These seeds have increased oxidative stability due to the reduced amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids present. Peanuts also contain significant levels of niacin, folates and Vitamin E. In addition, current research in human nutrition has shown peanuts and peanut containing foods have health effects ranging from increased satiety to vasodilation. While the roasted seed is the most familiar part of the plant for food use, peanut flour, peanut protein isolates, peanut oil and even peanut skins can be utilized to make appealing and health promoting processed products. Consumer acceptance of products containing peanut seed and other parts of the peanut have high levels of acceptance but still present challenges for routine use. The increasing incidences of peanut allergies in the U.S. population have prevented wide spread usage of peanut as a food ingredient, but therapy regimes using peanut have also has measurable success. Usage of peanut seeds, skins, shells, and other plant parts increases the value of the peanut crop and results in a reduction in agricultural waste material.