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Why I Avoid Peanut Butter

 

Nut butters, whether they be almond, hazelnut, cashew, or peanut - are a staple source of quick protein for vegans, vegetarians and health nuts (pun intended!) alike. But not all nut or seed butters are created equal. I will not eat peanut butter, though.

I'll admit it's delicious, so very delicious. But I still won't eat it.

Peanuts are not actually a nut at all. They're a legume, like a bean or a chickpea, but this is not the problem with peanuts.

Peanut Butter and Aflatoxins

Unlike almonds, which grow on trees, peanuts grow underground. This leaves them susceptible to mold and fungus - and unfortunately peanuts are high in carcinogenic compounds called aflatoxins, which are produced by the Aspergillus fungus. These aflatoxins have been linked to a variety of health issues, most notably liver cancer, but also growth impairment in children and developmental delays.

There are cancer-causing compounds all around us. Some of them we can control, and some of them we can't. If I can reduce my exposure to aflatoxins by avoiding peanut butter, it's a very small sacrifice to make for my overall health and cancer prevention.

Peanut Butter, Pesticides and Allergies

Peanuts are one of the most heavily pesticide-ridden crops.

Peanuts are among the foods most often implicated as triggering allergic reactions. This much we all know, but we don't know why. Could it be because of this high toxic load from all the pesticides, or could it be the ability that peanuts have to absorb toxic waste and heavy metals from the soil they are grown in? Perhaps this could be one of the contributing factors leading so many kids to have life threatening reactions to a mere crumb of a peanut.

Now I know many of us health nuts - if we were eating peanut butter - would choose organic, which would at least reduce the amount of pesticides and would not contain all the sugar, emulsifiers and hydrogenated oils of conventional peanut butter. But even organic peanuts can have the mold factor, which is not cool if you suffer from any kind of inflammatory, fungal or yeast related health condition like candida or general allergies.

Peanut Butter And The "Bad" Fats

Fat is good for us - but we need to eat the health-supportive fats in order to reap the health benefits. Peanuts are extremely high in omega-6 fats. While omega-6 fats are essential, we also need to have them balanced with omega 3s in a 3:1 ratio. Otherwise, inflammation errupts.

Peanut butter is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, but is very low in omega-3s (this is exemplary of the typical American diet). We don't need another source of omega-6; we consume enough of it already.

Peanut Butter versus Almond Butter

Pass Me The Almond Butter!

In contrast, almonds and almond butter are an amazingly health-supportive food.

Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, an important antioxidant that protects us from cellular damage, as well as biotin, a B vitamin that enriches our skin. They're also one of my go-to sources for magnesium (nature's relaxant mineral) and fibre.

Almonds have been thorougly touted for their ability to support our hearts (especially their cholesterol-lowering properties), as well as their capacity to help us lose weight, balance blood sugar, improve gut health and fight inflammation.

From a fatty acid standpoint, almonds have 2.77 g of omega-6s per 1/4 cup, while peanuts have close to double that amount at 5.68 g. That's why almonds are a much better option if you're trying to reduce inflammation.

The flavour of almond butter is similar enough to peanut butter that it can be a perfect stand-in no matter what recipe you're creating. You can replace almond butter for peanut butter 1:1, so there's no need for much adaptation. Make almond butter cups, spread it on an almond butter and jelly sandwich, blend it in sauces, dip crackers into it. I'm betting you and whoever you're cooking for likely won't notice the difference (unless it's to remark on how they prefer the almond butter version!).

Delicious Benefits Of Almond Butter

Give almond butter a go. Or hazelnut butter. Or cashew butter. If nut allergies are an issue, use tahini or sunflower seed butter instead.  Eat as you would peanut butter - on fruit, in a smoothie, with chocolate (the best!), on toast drizzled with honey and cinnamon, or right off the spoon. All of the above happen in my kitchen regularly.

Here are a few of my almond and almond butter containing recipes:

Cinnamon Almond Milk Date Smoothie

Header image: iStock/ BarnabyChambers

7 Responses to “Why I Avoid Peanut Butter”

  1. Emma C said… November 14, 2016
    Peanuts from china are sprayed with a really toxic pesticide. It's believed that this is what causes many people to develop an allergy to peanuts. The majority of peanuts butters on the shelf are from imported peanuts.
  2. Sunny said… November 15, 2016
    I eat a lot of almonds but experience a lot of concern...not from a personal health standpoint but from an environmental health standpoint. Almonds are grown as a monocrop....miles and miles of just almonds. They all bloom at the same time...miles and miles of one plant blooming. In order to pollinate those miles and miles of almonds, honeybees are brought in from all over the country to pollinate this one crop. Bees are not cattle or livestock yet we treat them as such and then wonder why they are struggling to survive. Nothing we do is in a vacuum. Just a thought for everyone jumping to almonds. Perhaps that are multiple, varied options that will sustain our personal and environmental health!
    • Sunny said… November 15, 2016
      Also, we've even brought honeybees in from Australia and New Zealand in order to pollinate the almonds!
  3. Liisa Juuti said… November 17, 2016
    Almonds have been in my regular diet all my life, until I found out that the majority are fumigated with propylene oxide, a chemical that even the CDC has admitted causes cancer. Those marked as organice are not fumigated but heat processed, unfortunately losing lots of their good properties. So just an advise to make sure the almonds you buy are fumigation-free! For example the brand Kirkland sold in Costco has been fumigated. The almonds bought in Trader's Joe have not been fumigated. You can see this article for more information: http://naturalsociety.com/discovered-dirty-little-secret-almonds/
  4. Jeffery Mcgowan said… November 30, 2016
    Wow what a great article about peanuts every time we think we understand something about Health and wellness we learn more
  5. Danielle said… December 22, 2016
    I love the taste of almond butter but the environmental cost is very high (water consumption). I recently discovered pumpkin seed butter. It seems like a more environment friendly spread, because it can be made from locally grown produce (I'm in Canada too.) What do you think of that butter from a nutritional point of view?
  6. Laura Costigan said… April 11, 2017
    OK. You've convinced me. I had already reduced my peanut butter intake opting for organic versions only once in a while but I see now even that it dangerous. Thanks for the straightforward info.

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