Whether spread on bread, celery, or on apples, or if it’s the star of your favorite cookies, there are few things you should know about peanut butter.
We’ve all had it. In fact, it’s probably a common staple in most of our pantries…peanut butter. It’s a cheap, versatile, and delicious food, making it convenient and easy to eat a lot of! While there are different ways of consuming peanut butter, with some being healthier than others, what if this delicious food staple isn’t as healthy as we might have thought? There are a few dangers of peanut butter consumption of which you should be aware!
Peanuts, and thus peanut butter, contain something called aflatoxin. Aflatoxins are mycotoxins that occur naturally from a fungus. Mycotoxins are carcinogenic, meaning they can cause cancer. The aflatoxins are particularly toxic to the liver, which not only damages the liver leading to cancer and cirrhosis, but it also inhibits all of the liver’s vital processes, such as detoxification. Eating high amounts of peanuts or peanut butter can lead to the incidence of liver cancer. These aflatoxins are even more poisonous to young children whose immune systems aren’t as developed and strong.
Because peanuts are technically a legume, they share some of the same problems with legumes, specifically, lectins and phytic acid. Lectins are proteins found in numerous foods, but not all lectins are problematic, and various individuals respond to them differently. Lectins can do damage to the walls of the intestines and can therefore lead to gut issues such as leaky gut, autoimmune, and other digestive issues.
Phytic acid is another problematic component of peanuts. Phytic acid is a substance that binds to nutrients in food, which makes them unable to be absorbed and utilized by the body. So, even if you eat a wholesome, nourishing food, if it contains phytic acid, you’re not going to get nourished, or at least not as well as you should. This can and does leave the body in a state of deficiency.
Many common brands of peanut butter contain added oils, and typically ones that are harmful to health. First off, peanut butter contains plenty of natural oil from the peanuts (peanut oil), making added oil unnecessary. Second, most brands contain hydrogenated oil, also known as trans fat. Trans fats are the worst, most toxic type of fat you can ingest, and are not found naturally occurring. Trans fats not only make you fat, but lead to a very long list of health problems, such as inflammation and all of its associated problems, cancer, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, to name a few. This fat should be avoided at all costs!
Even if you purchase a brand without added oils, the naturally occurring oils can still be an issue. Peanuts contain polyunsaturated oil. When consumed in its natural state, these polyunsaturated fats are health promoting. But, these oils are not stable against high temperatures, and exposure to heat causes these oils to be changed into a toxic fat. Essentially all peanut butter is made using roasted peanuts, which means the oils in the peanuts have been exposed to high heat..
Common peanut butter brands also typically contain added sugar. Again, added sugars are completely unnecessary to make peanut butter taste good. But, because so many of us are accustomed to high sugar foods and the taste of them, food companies must appeal to our sweet tooth by making foods like peanut butter unnecessarily sweeter. This is a problem, since sugar is one of the main culprits not only to weight gain, but to a laundry list of troubles, such as diabetes, headaches, mental issues such as depression and ADHD, cancer, high cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, and allergies. Sugar is one of the main things we should focus on minimizing.
I recommend using organic peanut butter containing no added sugar or oil. The best option for peanut butter is to make your own from raw, organic peanuts. Or try an alternative. You can make nut butter from any other nut for a delicious and more nutritious option. Some of my particular favorite nut spreads include cashew, raw almond butter, walnut butter, and sesame butter (tahini). Give different types a try, and understand that anything made yourself while using top quality ingredients is always going to be better than anything you buy on the shelf.