I used to eat peanuts all the time thinking it was a health food. I think it’s safe to say, unless you had a severe peanut allergy, we all grew up on them! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, spread between crackers, dry or honey roasted as snacks, licked off a spoon, melted into toast, baked into cookie and commonly found with chocolate. Inexpensive, tasty and often thought of as a great source of protein, peanuts and peanut products are a staple in many homes.
Seriously… No Peanuts?
But then the research… take a deep breath, I’m just the messenger here… If I made up the rules about what foods were best, I’d choose peanuts too.
However, as a holistic doctor and an ambassador for evidence-based nutrition, I have to look at the facts. I have recognized these facts for years and haven’t consumed peanut products for over a decade. In that time I have energetically tested TONS of different peanuts, peanut butters and other peanut products. It doesn’t matter if they are raw, roasted or organic– I have yet to find a peanut product that is cell resonate (health-promoting for the human body).
Peanuts are NOT a health promoting food.
There are a few nutritional issues with the peanuts themselves and then another issue with what happens to peanuts pre and post harvest:
1. Peanuts are high in omega 6’s. When omega 6’s are not in closer proportion to omega 3’s, the common result is an inflammatory response.1 If you have been turning to peanuts thinking you’re getting healthy fat, think again. Better sources that offer a higher ratio of omega 3s (anti-inflammatory) include walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds. If you’re wanting a plant protein source, beans, lentils and peas can be helpful. The goal is always to get the nutrition that your body needs without side effects that your body has to contend with.
2. Many peanut products, such as commercial peanut butters, candy bars and granolas, are also loaded with sugar and oil which bring their own set of issues.
3. Keep in mind that when a nut (or any food for that matter) is roasted with high heat, it does denature the protein making it much more difficult to digest.2
4. But even worse, it’s the way peanuts are stored, preserved and shipped that causes the biggest challenges to ones’ health. Peanuts (and peanut products) are loaded with mycotoxins and, more specifically, aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are toxins produced by fungi that are carcinogenic (cancer causing).3 This is due to the processing that peanuts go through when they go from being harvested in hot climates to being stored and transported to their final destination. Much efforts are made by the “peanut industry” to remedy this issue but the efforts are not sufficient.4 I think of it like this: If you had a piece of bread that was covered in mold, and I could promise you that I had a technology that would get rid of 90% of the mold, would you still eat it? NO! Of course not. The reason that our standards are different with the peanut products is because we can’t actually SEE the mold like you can on bread. But take it to any food lab and, I assure you, the aflatoxin is still there! Even trace amounts of a toxic material is often dose dependent and can cause major problems over time as it accumulated in the tissues.
Look out for peanuts in: nut butters, Pad Thai, candy bars, trail mixes, and commercially made foods such as smoothies, ice-cream and cereals/granola and especially all kinds of processed foods that are made with peanut oils.
The bottom line: finding a source of uncontaminated peanuts or peanut products is unlikely. For the possible value that they may offer, there are LOTS of better options that lack the down side (mold, digestive challenges, inflammation, the accumulation of toxic carcinogens, etc.).
As your holistic doctor in Kalamazoo MI, I want to help you find and stick to healthy diet that is truly good for your body. If you have questions or to get more information on scheduling a consultation, just fill out our online contact form. It’s time to get healthy now! Remember that YOU are the treasure (not the food)!
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a health care practitioner. It is for educational purposes only.
1. Patterson E, Wall R, Fitzgerald GF, Ross RP, Stanton C. Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Nutr Metab. 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/539426
2. Maleki S, Schmitt D, Galeano M, Hurlburt B. Comparison of the Digestibility of the Major Peanut Allergens in Thermally Processed Peanuts and in Pure Form. Foods. 2014. doi:10.3390/foods3020290
3. Mupunga I, Lebelo SL, Mngqawa P, Rheeder JP, Katerere DR. Natural occurrence of Aflatoxins in peanuts and peanut butter from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. J Food Prot. 2014. doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-14-129
4. Norlia M, Jinap S, Nor-Khaizura MAR, Radu S, Samsudin NIP, Azri FA. Aspergillus section Flavi and Aflatoxins: Occurrence, Detection, and Identification in Raw Peanuts and Peanut-Based Products Along the Supply Chain. Front Microbiol. 2019. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.02602