A New and Improved Peanut Is Coming

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Peanuts are big business in the United States: Around 91 percent of homes in the country stock peanut butter. So it makes sense that scientists are looking into how to make this lunchtime powerhouse even better.

Earlier this summer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released news [PDF] that researchers from North Carolina A&T State University may have found a way to produce an allergen-free peanut, and now, another new peanut—one that's designed to be healthier and heartier—is on the horizon.

The so-called OLé peanuts, engineered by the USDA Agricultural Research Service and their colleagues at Oklahoma State University, are a variety of the Spanish peanuts with the papery red skin that are prized for their higher oil content, which gives them a nuttier, richer flavor. But the OLés have a few distinct advantages. They're what's known as a "high-oleic peanut," meaning that they contain comparatively high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. Not only does this mean you can feel (slightly) better about eating PB straight from the jar, it also extends the peanuts' shelf life without the use of preservatives.

High-oleic peanuts have been on the market since 1995, but a recent shortage revealed a need for a better crop. Along with OLé's other benefits, this new breed of peanut is both more resistant to disease—which saves farmers from having to use pesticides—and should produce a significantly higher amount of peanuts per acre in the future. And that's good news for peanut fans.

[h/t Modern Farmer]