Chufa groundnut: useful properties and contraindications
The ground almond is a plant from the Osocaceae family. It is believed that it was known to mankind even in ancient times. And in the old days, it was distributed throughout Europe. In Russia, peasants also grew edible wheat - that's how this plant is called in Russian. Although today the second version of the name, adopted in Spain, is better known - chufa.
- How it looks and where it grows
- Composition and calories
- What is the usefulness of peanut chufa
- General benefits
- For Women
- For Men
- In pregnancy
- For breastfeeding
- For children
- The Benefit of Almond Oil
- Chufa Nut Application
- In Medicine
- Harm and Contraindications
- How to grow peanuts
- How to choose and store
- Interesting facts
What it looks like and where it grows
Externally, chufa resembles an ordinary sedge like the one that grows in marshy soil. It is distinguished by bright green leaves, rather dense and stiff, which can grow up to half a meter in length. The chufa shrub itself can reach a height of 30-90 cm. Its stem is straight and thin, in a section - triangular. Leaves are arranged in bundles 1 cm wide. During flowering umbrella inflorescences appear on it, which are pollinated by the wind.
The chufa bush is undemanding to the composition of soil and generally unpretentious, although it likes sunny places more and poorly tolerates high humidity. It has a well-developed root system from which many rather thin shoots begin to branch.
Small tubers that grow on these shoots are used for food. They are no bigger than a nut, but they resemble almonds in shape, taste and even aroma. This impression is reinforced by their white, sweetish, hard and crispy flesh and yellowish or dark brown skin, covered with several transverse striations (sometimes it can also be pinkish, but that is relatively rare). Hence the other name of the plant, ground almond.
Chufa can give quite a large harvest. There have been cases where one has harvested up to 400 of these oval-shaped nuts, 3 cm long and 1 cm wide. Their peel is inseparable from the pulp and is quite tough.
In the wild, the distribution range of the ground almond is quite wide. Chufa is traditionally cultivated almost all along the Mediterranean coast of Europe and North Africa. There are historical studies that confirm that the ground almond was popular in ancient Egypt as early as 4,000 years ago. In Europe it began to be cultivated in Italy and Spain, then it spread to other countries. In Russia, the ground almond appeared only 300 years ago. At first it was called winterberry, and only later was it called edible wheat. Unfortunately, after the revolution this plant was forgotten for a long time, although it is actually very useful and nutritious tubers.
These "nuts" can be eaten even in raw form, although in European cuisine there are enough recipes with fried and baked tubers. They are also used to make various drinks. And the oil they contain is widely used in cosmetology.
Composition and calories
Chufa is an oily earthy tuber. Its energy value is quite high: about 609 kcal per 100 grams of product. But it has a great composition, which makes ground almonds so useful for health. So, 100 grams of the product contains only 13 g of carbohydrates, almost 19 g of protein and 54 g of fat. Moreover, these are generally healthy fats, although, of course, they should not be abused.
But the ground almond contains:
- Vitamin A, which is quite a powerful antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory properties and is very useful for vision.
- B vitamins, which speed up metabolic processes and support the nervous system.
- Vitamin C, which is also considered an antioxidant, but not only has protective and antioxidant properties, but also the ability to improve the condition of the vascular walls.
- A rich array of macro- and micronutrients, including zinc with its anti-inflammatory properties, endocrine-essential iodine, iron and phosphorus to improve cognitive function, as well as copper, sodium, zinc, etc.
The tubers contain potassium, which is essential for normal heart muscle function, and calcium, which strengthens bones. This is why the peanut is recommended for elderly people to eat to prevent osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.
The tubers of peanuts also contain essential amino acids, starch and, depending on the variety, 20-27% oil, which by its properties is very close to olive oil.
How is the chufa peanut useful?
The useful properties of the ground almond are very diverse. Moreover, it is widely used not only in folk medicine, but also in pharmacology. Earth almonds have the following properties:
- Maintains the body in tone.
- Improves the work of all muscles.
- Helps regulate triglyceride levels and "bad" cholesterol in the body, which helps prevent various vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and stroke.
- Reduces the risk of blood clots.
- Improves cognitive ability and has a beneficial effect on the CNS in general.
- Normalizes metabolic processes and removes toxins from the body.
- Regulates blood glucose levels and thus is considered very useful for people with diabetes.
In fact, each tuber of ground almond is a tiny nut containing absolutely everything the human body needs for normal functioning.
For ladies, ground almonds are useful in that they help provide the body with calcium during menopause, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Also the anti-inflammatory properties of its constituent components prevent the development of pelvic diseases.
For the stronger sex this plant is useful because it contains antioxidants and zinc, that is, components that have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a great prophylactic agent for prostate diseases.
It is believed that you can use ground almonds even during pregnancy, as they contain healthy fatty acids, as well as many vitamins and minerals. But you need to remember that this is a very caloric product, and you can eat it only in small quantities, as a strong increase in weight is contraindicated for future mothers.
Chufa contains no harmful substances that could penetrate into breast milk and somehow affect the health of the child. At the same time, it is full of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals that help a young mother to get in shape faster. Therefore, there is no direct ban on the use of ground almonds. But you need to be careful, because any new product in a child can cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, you need to keep a food diary and write down the amount of ground almonds, which went into the daily diet, and then check the reaction of the child and note anything unusual - increased excitability, irritation on the skin.
It is believed that ground almonds are very useful for children, as they contain all the substances they need. It is clear that you should not give it to babies at an early age, because their digestive tract is not yet ready for such products - as well as for ordinary nuts. So in small quantities they can be given only to children over 3 years, but only in the absence of individual sensitivity and allergic reactions.
When losing weight
A diet based on ground almonds is not the best idea, as it is quite a caloric product. But adding a small amount of chufa to the diet can normalize blood sugar levels and speed up the metabolism.
Earth nuts can be added to cottage cheese, yogurt, vegetable and fruit salads - but no more than 20-30 grams per day. Then it will be an excellent snack that will help supply the body with all the proteins and vitamins even on a strict diet.
In addition, it is believed that the beneficial substances contained in the ground almonds are better absorbed if they are taken in the form of milk. Such a drink can be a great breakfast for those who are on a diet. To prepare this healing milk, you need to take the tubers of ground almonds and purified water in a ratio of 1:4. Remedy insist for a day, after which it is filtered, and the tubers of ground almonds rubbed through a fine sieve. After that, the resulting mass is combined with the drained liquid and stirred to a puree. If desired, add a spoonful of honey. You can drink a cup of such milk for breakfast to start the day with a burst of energy.
The benefits of ground almond oil
Chufa oil is a product that is produced by the method of cold pressing, which allows you to preserve the maximum possible amount of useful substances. If everything was carried out according to the rules, the product, which meets the high modern requirements, will look like a golden yellow translucent liquid, which has a pleasant smell of almond nuts.
The properties of this oil are very close to olive oil. It contains oleic acid, which belongs to the group of polyunsaturated fats and has the ability to protect the body from the negative effects of the environment. If you use it regularly, it will reduce the level of "bad" cholesterol and replace it with "good" cholesterol, which is beneficial for the cardiovascular activity and brain function.
Thus, ground almond oil has the following properties:
- normalization of cardiac activity and prevention of thrombosis;
- improvement of calcium absorption in bone tissue;
- maintenance of visual acuity (this is due to the high content of linoleic acid);
- strengthening of the immune system;
- normalization of hormonal balance;
- increase stress resistance;
- improvement of digestive processes.
And to get such an effect, it is enough to use only 10 grams of oil a day, a little less than a tablespoon.
The high content of vitamin E strengthens the immune system, has a beneficial effect on the reproductive organs. In addition, it has a unique ability to replace any other vitamin, which is deficient in the body.
In cosmetology, chufa oil is widely used to improve skin elasticity, protect it from dehydration, treat cracks and inflammation, brighten and oxygenate the cells. It is also believed to help relieve eczema, psoriasis and various types of dermatitis. In the beauty industry it is used to strengthen hair and nails. All this is due to an unusual combination of two factors - high content of oleic acid and low acidity of the product as a whole. Such oil does not dry out for a long time, so it is added to expensive face creams, soaps, etc.
To heal cracks, you just need to apply a little oil to the affected area and leave it to absorb itself. You can repeat the procedure 2-3 times a day.
For nourishing the skin it is recommended to apply a small amount of oil under the eyes for half an hour. Then blot the rest of it with a paper napkin. It may also be used as a base for a mask with jojoba and neroli oils. The latter are taken in small quantities, literally 3-6 drops per tablespoon of the oil of earth almond. All this is mixed, applied to the skin with massaging movements, working through each line a few times.
Chufa oil is also used in cooking. The good thing about it is that it doesn't change its properties when cooked. So it can be used for frying dishes.
Chufa nut application
The ground almond is used in cooking, in dietetics and in cosmetology - today traditional options are increasingly combined with an innovative approach.
The use of chufa in cooking is surprisingly diverse. We have already mentioned oil, which can be an excellent (and cheaper) substitute for olive oil.
In addition, ground almond tubers, first roasted and then ground in a blender and coffee grinder, are used to make a drink very similar to cocoa. And if you re-fry the ground tubers or roast in the oven until chocolate color, and then boil them in boiling water, you get a healthy and flavorful coffee substitute.
Chufu is often added to pastries, candies, chocolates, and halvahs to give these products a nutty flavor and almond aroma. They are also used to flavor salads and cakes to make them tastier and more nutritious. Often ground almonds are put in second courses, as they can be fried, steamed, stewed without affecting the taste and health benefits.
Nutritionists often advise to eat the tubers of this plant in raw form, as this way it helps to establish digestion faster. In this case it is not necessary to peel the skin, you just need to wash them properly under running water. Dried ground almonds are often advised to grind into flour. In this case, they can be added to confectionery products. Theoretically, they can replace flour, but in practice, because they are gluten-free, such baked goods can lose their shape. Therefore, some amount of semolina or wheat flour should be added to the ground almond flour. This helps to make the dough more needed and airy.
Here are a few popular recipes:
- Homemade ground almond halva. You need to take 1 cup of dried tubers chufa, 2/3 cup of extra flour and sugar, 1/3 cup of low-fat milk, 3 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil. Toast the tubers first slightly in a frying pan, then grind in a blender or coffee grinder. Meanwhile, fry a little flour, too, then mix it with ground chufa, add vegetable oil, sugar and, optionally, vanilla and cinnamon. All this should be brought to a boil and kept on low heat for three minutes. After the mixture has cooled a little, you need to form briquettes from it - you can use molds for this.
- Coffee from ground almonds. For it, you need to preheat the tubers of chufa in the oven, heating it to a temperature of 150 degrees, no more. The whole procedure takes 10-15 minutes of time, but the plant raw material should be constantly stirred. Then wait until it cools and grind it in a coffee grinder to powder. The remedy is brewed the same way as regular coffee - 1 tsp. powder per glass of boiling water.
- "Peanut butter" can be used in the same way as peanut butter. But only it will be a slightly more complex dessert. To make it, you need to take 50 g of dry "peanuts" and grind them in a coffee grinder or blender until they are flour. Add to them 100 grams of soft butter, 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and the same amount of cocoa powder and mix everything. Such a paste can be used as a filling for a variety of pastries. But if it is spread on a cracker or a cookie it would also be very delicious.
- In the Mediterranean countries ground almonds are used to make a refreshing drink orchard. This will require 250 grams of these nuts for 1 liter of water and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Also add lemon zest and cinnamon for a pleasant taste and aroma. Chufu should be soaked overnight. In the morning, throw the nuts in a colander, let the water drain off, put the tubers themselves into the bowl of a blender, add a glass of purified water and grind the nuts into a homogeneous mass. This will be the basis of the drink, which should be poured into a separate container, add the remaining water and insist for 3 hours. After that, it is recommended to strain the infusion through a fine sieve or gauze folded in several layers, add sugar, zest and cinnamon, and in the heat even a couple of ice cubes.
In dietetics, this product is included in the diet of those who suffer from celiac disease, that is, gluten intolerance. In this case, the tubers of the plant have not only a high caloric value, but also a high nutritional value, so they will be an alternative to those cereals, most of which just contain gluten. It is also believed that ground almonds energize the body, improve mood, have a beneficial effect on brain function, increase immunity and physical endurance.
In folk medicine, chufa is used as follows:
- Fresh tubers are eaten in small quantities three times a day.
- The dried herb of the plant is stuffed into pillows to get rid of insomnia.
- Decoction of ground almond (1 tbsp. dried leaves per glass of boiling water) is an excellent sedative. It is believed to help with insomnia and toothache.
- Infusion of leaves (the same proportion - 1 tbsp. spoon per glass of boiling water, just need to infuse for 30 minutes) is used as a tonic and to improve immunity.
- Raw tubers help to cleanse the body of toxins and improve digestion.
- Powdered dried nodules treat bleeding and inflammation of the gums.
- The powder is also taken in diabetics to lower their glucose levels. The dosage is 60 mg of powder per kilogram of body weight.
- Decoction of ground almonds with orange peel helps to treat urethritis and related painful urination.
- Baths on the basis of decoction help to treat gynecological diseases.
The most effective remedy is considered an alcoholic tincture (1 tablespoon of raw materials in 0.25 liters of vodka), which is attributed literally instant results. Such a tincture is useful for infectious diseases, can relieve inflammation.
Interestingly, in the olden days it was believed that ground almonds scare away unclean forces from the house. More modern urban legends claim that chufa improves the energy of the place. But these are just beautiful tales, but the folk remedies described above have been tested by practice, and their properties have been confirmed by scientific research.
Harm and contraindications
In principle, the ground almond is so useful that it has almost no contraindications. However, people prone to obesity should use it with caution, because it is a very caloric product. In addition, because of its high content of fatty acids, it should not be consumed in acute forms of liver disease.
How to grow groundnut
Chufa is a very unpretentious plant. With moderately moist soil and the absence of heat, you can count on an excellent harvest. It even seems like a paradox why the plant from Africa does not like the heat, but in fact the optimum temperature for it is up to +22-23°C.
However, remember that they have a long growing season, averaging 150-180 days, so it's best to grow ground almonds from seedlings and only transplant them into soil at the end of May.
The care of the ground almond is not very difficult. It should be watered only in dry weather to avoid rotting of the roots. Feeding should not be done more often than 2-3 times per summer, as there is a risk of getting a very sprawling green mass with a small number of tubers.
The advantages of this plant are also that it is not just edible, but also very decorative. If you plant such bushes in a row, you can form a beautiful bright green border. Today, this plant in general is widely used in landscape design.
How to pick and store
Today, it is not necessary to grow ground almonds in your vegetable garden. You can just buy it in one of the online stores or try to find it in a large supermarket. Chufa is also sold in garden centers, but mostly as planting material. So it is still better to look for just mature fruits. They should be fairly dense, elastic, have a rounded shape and skin without damage.
Earth almonds can be grown on their own. If this is the case, the tubers should be harvested in late September. A sure sign that it is time to do this is the yellowing of the leaves and their drying out. There is no need to hurry: the later you start harvesting, the better the time for the tubers to ripen, the more useful substances they will contain. But you should not procrastinate with it either. Harvesting should be done in dry weather, so it is done before rains and frosts.
The ground almond tubers are pulled out together with the roots, cleaned of the stuck dirt, placed on a metal mesh and watered to wash away the remains of soil. After that, the chufa is left to dry, but not in the sun, and under a roof, the only way to ensure that these tubers will last long enough.
Dried ground almonds can be kept in the basement, but one has to make sure that the humidity is correct and that they are not damaged by rodents. You can store a number of tubers simply in the kitchen or in a back room, protected from sunlight. Keep the crop in a cardboard box or plywood box. But even with all the conditions, it will not be stored longer than two years.
Scientists have established that the ground almond was known to human ancestors already about 2 million years ago. These tubers were found during the excavations of Egyptian tombs. Chufa was cultivated in Sudan and Morocco. It was brought to Europe by the Arabs during Moorish rule.
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