Pass on Peanut Butter

If you regularly smear peanut butter onto bread or a cracker and call it a meal, you’re fooling yourself.  Yes, this shoddy, cheap spread will temporarily stave off hunger but it doesn’t compare to a real meal. Besides peanuts are one of the most common food allergens and commercial peanuts are typically contaminated.

High Pesticide Percentage  Many southern peanut fields are crop-rotated with cotton. Cotton, a non-food crop, is plagued by the boll weevil and is treated with chemicals too toxic to be permitted on food crops. As a result, pesticides killing this year’s boll weevils will taint next year’s peanuts. Some people sensitive to commercial peanuts find that they tolerate organic peanuts.

Carcinogenic Aflatoxins   After being harvested from the earth, these ground nuts lie in the field to dry. Those grown humid states invariably develop mold. Therefore, the USDA allows a percentage of aflatoxins, a potent carcinogenic toxin, in peanut products. Peanuts grown in arid areas like eastern New Mexico are much less susceptible to mold formation because of the low humidity. Ask your manufacturer to identify the region from which their peanuts are grown.

Rancidity   Because peanuts are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, they form toxic transfatty acids when exposed to heat, air, or light as they age. If peanut butter smells stale or has an acrid, harsh aftertaste it is probably rancid and so discard it. To help keep peanut butter fresh, purchase it in small quantities and keep it tightly covered and refrigerated.

Added Ingredients  Most commercial peanut butter contains about 10% shoddy ingredients including dextrose, corn syrup solids, emulsifiers, hydrogenated vegetable oils and salt. It could be one of these ingredients that triggers allergic reactions.

If you are sensitive to peanuts, assiduously avoid them in any form, including peanut oil (see Identify Food Allergies). Work with your health care practitioner to strengthen your digestion. Additionally, people with nut sensitivities or with cancer, gout, autoimmune disease or candida do best to avoid peanuts.

Sure there’s nothing wrong with a little peanut butter now and then for the fun of it. But not as a dietary staple. When purchasing peanut butter, please favor organic peanut butter that contains only whole peanuts and possibly a little sea salt. Commercial peanut butter is made from peanuts from which the skin and nutritious germ have been removed. As the peanuts in the peanut butter machine at my natural food store are not labeled organic, I pass on them.

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood