When you are in a hurry or just need a little snack to tie you over till dinner consider a healthy handful of peanuts.

Peanuts are known by many other local names such as earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts. Despite its name and appearance, the peanut is not a nut, but rather a legume or member of the bean family.

Peanuts are very nutritious and offer a variety of health benefits such as being rich in monounsaturated fats which is heart friendly. Peanuts are also a good source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese.In addition, peanuts provide resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes and red wine.

Peanuts also contain oleic acid, the healthful fat found in olive oil, but new research shows these tasty legumes are also as rich in antioxidants as many fruits.

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears are groundless. In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.