I know I'm going to get some resistance from the fitness community for saying this, but there are better substances to consume than peanut butter. I cringe when I see fitness trainers and nutritionists adding copious amounts of peanut butter to a diet plan for someone with the goal of being fit and healthy. Below I will list several reasons why I stopped eating peanut butter.
- The off-balance ratio of fats. Balancing our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is important for our health, however even though peanuts are high in monounsaturated fat, the powerhouse omega 3 is very low while the omega 6 fatty acids are very high. There are better choices when it comes to nuts, for example macadamia, pecans or walnuts. This can lead to inflammation.
- Peanuts are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so unless you buy organic (which has its own set of problems) you are consuming a hefty dose of toxic chemicals.
- The fungus aflatoxin is prolific on peanuts due to the fact that they are grown on the soil and then stored in giant silos which encourage the growth of this cancer causing fungus. This also can lead to problems with your digestive system, such as leaky gut syndrome. According to some tests, the aflatoxin levels are actually higher in peanuts ground fresh in health food stores than that from large conventional chains such as Skippy or JIF, but those brands have their own problems!
- Most conventional brands of peanut butter contain fully or partially hydrogenated oils. Not only hydrogenated oils, but many times these oils are rancid. Why is this bad? Trans fat. Heart disease. If you think you will avoid this with “reduced fat” peanut butter, then expect to add another set of problems since they replace the oils with sugar.
- Sugar and sodium. Some nutritional estimates put peanut butter in the “high” category for sugar and many brands have half your daily intake of sodium. Half!!!!
- Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors present in peanut butter can inhibit mineral absorption. For the scientific explanation go HERE.
- Lectins, which can be described as a sticky protein, are very hard to digest and contribute to joint inflammation and related problems such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Deadly allergens. More and more children are becoming allergic to peanuts, with the potentially fatal reaction happening upon first exposure. That's scary.
- Salmonella outbreaks, don't believe me? Google it. You will be shocked at how many peanut butter recalls there are.
- Genetic Engineering. Genetically Modified Peanuts are being tested currently in India. If you are not currently avoiding Genetically Modified Foods and trying to eat organic when possible, then you might be reading the wrong blog. If you don't know a lot about GMO foods,HERE is a great place to start educating yourself.
Peanuts are actually not even NUTS. They're devious little legumes going by the name “nut” to confuse busy moms. Seriously though, in the good ole' south “goober-peas” were traditionally boiled, which is similar to the soaking and boiling method of bean preparation.
Not surprisingly, preparing a peanut like a legume actually releases the phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors and starches that prevent digestion. Therefore boiling the peanuts (just like a pinto bean!) makes them easy to digest while also making the nutrients in them easier for the body to recognize and utilize. Unfortunately, very few people will eat boiled peanuts as a replacement to peanut butter. For an interesting article and humorous video on eating boiled peanuts go HERE.
Don't get me wrong, I grew up eating peanut butter, I fed it to my kids. I probably have a jar of it in my house right now. But do I eat it? No. Do I try to get my kids to eat healthier alternatives like Almond Butter or NutzO? Yes, I most certainly do!
** updated to say that I do sometimes use Valencia Peanut Butter in my Trim Healthy Mama Recipes, like my Chocolate Peanut Butter balls but most of the time, even if it calls for peanut butter, I use Almond butter… I like the taste and texture and nutrient panel better. Yes, I do still allow my kids to eat peanut butter, but if I had it my way we would all eat ONLY almond butter.