My favorite candy bar since childhood was Reece’s Peanut butter Cups. When I choose to eat healthy I started to make smoothies with chocolate protein and added organic peanut butter. It was delicious, and I ate it nearly every day.
My daughter also loved peanut butter, eating pb&j sandwiches for lunch often. It was with much embarrassment I proudly said how much peanut butter we ate, in a room full of the worlds leading health experts, specializing in cancer prevention and remission.
The silence in the room was awkward, then one doctor respectfully said: “Did you know that peanuts and peanut butter contain a toxic highest amount of Aflatoxin? And Aflatoxin is what laboratories inject into mice, so they will grow cancer tumors…”
Yikes, I was so embarrassed. I had no idea, and I felt like I was putting a cancer-causing product directly into my daughter. The fact that the entire room was full of parents with cancer ridden children with could not have been more impactful.
Americans Obsession with Peanuts
For most people, peanuts are a favorite snack and a staple of everyday diets. From handfuls of salted peanuts to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Americans can’t get enough of them. Peanuts are also omnipresent in many global cuisines.
Peanuts, despite the name, are not nuts. They are a vegetable, part of the legume family, along with beans. They’re very easy to grow in warm, sunny climates in decent soil. Like other legumes, they grow underground. The “nuts” are encased in soft, permeable shells, unlike proper nuts, which are protected by hard shell cases. They require minimal watering and grow easily, making them simple to produce and highly cost-effective.
Toxic and Deadly: Why Peanut Butter is Bad for You
Peanuts are highly susceptible to toxins, in part due to how they have to be grown. While growing underground in warm conditions helps the plants flourish, peanuts aren’t the only living organisms that thrive under these same conditions.
Mold grows like wildfire in damp soil. The peanut, with its soft shell, can easily be overtaken by mold spores, including one of the most deadly ones, Aflatoxin. Which answers the question; Is peanut butter is bad?
Aflatoxin occurs naturally, especially in warm, moist conditions. The foods most highly susceptible to aflatoxin are peanuts, corn and cottonseed (some of the most commonly consumed foods in the average American diet).
Aflatoxin can infect peanuts as they grow, but can also attack the nuts during storage. When peanuts are stored for periods of time, shelled or unshelled, the warm conditions expose them to aflatoxin just as easily as soil. Aflatoxin can also grow on peanuts during shipment as well as on grocery shelves.
Aflatoxin is some seriously nasty stuff. It’s a known carcinogen, conclusively linked to cancer. Aflatoxin is so effective at causing cancer that it’s commonly used to inject into animals to grow cancer, to then test treatments. Acute aflatoxicosis can result in pulmonary edemas, convulsions, coma and death.
Even if you don’t get acute aflatoxicosis, exposure can impact liver functionality. Impaired liver can lead to jaundice, abdominal pain, cholestatsis (a digestive illness caused by blockage of bile flow, essential for healthy digestion) liver failure, and hormone inbalance. Not exactly what you were expecting along with your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, right?
Acute aflatoxicosis isn’t the only potential health hazard caused by exposure to aflatoxin-infested peanuts. The fact that it is a known Recent studies suggest that aflatoxin exposure can also stunt growth in children. Between being a known cancer causing chemical, common allergens, and the potential for impaired growth. Now that we know why peanut butter is bad, can you think of any good reason to keep giving kids peanut products?
Bad for the Body
Allergies and aflotoxin aren’t the only problems peanuts present. Like all legumes, peanuts contain anti-nutrients called lectins. Lectins are found in many foods and serve a natural purpose—they help repel pests. Unfortunately, they’re also very difficult to digest, and they bind to sugars in the body, resulting in inflammation and immune responses.
Lectins aggravate a number of conditions, especially rheumatoid arthritis. They also mess with your metabolism and mimic insulin behaviors.
Yet another potential hazard of peanuts comes from treating mold—increased use of pesticides. In an effort to combat mold (and the potential for aflotoxin), non-organic farmers rely on pesticides. The peanuts’ non-permeable pods make it easier for pesticides to seep inside, exposing you to even greater risks.
Whether you eat them by the handful or spread them, it’s always best to eat real tree nuts—and leave the legumes!
If you’re looking for an alternative to peanuts, the simplest strategy is to eat tree nuts. They’re rich in protein and dietary fibers and are naturally protected from molds by their hard shells.
Almonds are among the most popular and healthiest nuts available, but other tree nuts like walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia and Brazil nuts are also great alternatives. If it’s a nut butter you’re craving, almond butter, cashew butter and other tree-nut butters are just as tasty as peanut butter—but a lot safer. If you’re like me and have a picky palate, you may love the blend of MeeNut Butter.
Raw nuts are always the best choices, giving you all of the nutritional benefits without all of the additives that processed nuts have. The roasting process when done with oil can strip away many of the nutrients, essentially reducing their overall healthy qualities. Dry roasting—without the use of oils—can give you the familiar flavor without additional harmful layers of salt, sugar and oil. Read about Healthy Nuts Here
Knowing Better Doing Better
I consider it a blessing I was sitting in the room full of kids with cancer and their parents when I was so eloquently educated on the question: Is peanut butter bad? Not one single parent would feed their children peanut butter, knowing what they know. Why is it that we need to get sick to make healthy changes?
It took a few months to wean my daughter off peanut butter (because she loved it and at 10 years old didn’t fully understand why she suddenly needed to stop). Everytime she ate it I felt like an awful parent, but I understand how she needed to feel empowered to make the decision. She spends a lot of time with her dad, and my parents, whom all eat rather unhealthy. It’s become important to give her the power in education to make her own health decisions since we are not with her all the time.