Hi, I hope everyone has a nice weekend.
Are Peanuts And Peanut Butter A Healthy Or Unhealthy Food
Everyone is aware that many people are allergic to peanuts, and many schools even ban any form of peanuts because of the dangers to children who may be allergic. Any severe allergy to a food, or something else, can be life threatening. Everyone knows that.
What a lot of people aren't aware of are the other dangers of peanuts. I don't eat peanuts, in any form, mostly because of that. Peanuts can be confusing because we hear they contain a good fat, monounsaturated, but so does avocados, nuts and olive oil, which would be a healthier choice. Peanuts also contain a high amount of omega-6, and a more balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio would be best as in hemp seeds.
We also hear they are high in antioxidants and some vitamins and minerals. The biggest claim to health lately has been that they contain resveratrol, which they do, but so do other foods, such as grapes, cranberries and blueberries, so you don't need to eat peanuts for that.
One problem with peanuts is that they are one of the most highly pesticide contaminated crops there is. One important reason to only use organic peanut products if you choose to continue to eat peanuts. Conventional peanut farmers have a disproportionately high rate of cancer, mainly because of all the pesticides they use, and because they eat a lot of peanuts.
Aflatoxins In Peanuts
The most important reason, outside of a severe allergy, is because they are often contaminated with aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin that is produced by many different species of a fungus called Aspergillus. It is very dangerous, and it is a carcinogen. It is so potent it has been know to wipe out complete tribes in Africa because of contaminated food there. In smaller amount it can be a slow killer, as in cancer, and is believed to cause liver cancer.
Aflatoxin can be in other products as well, corn is another likely one, which is another thing I don't eat. Unfortunately, corn is in many products, especially convenience foods, as a by product, so if you eat processed foods it is almost impossible to avoid it. Aflatoxin, can be in other foods as well nuts, grains, and dairy are possible, but much less of an issue then for the peanuts and corn.
Our government does sample testing of raw peanuts, and do not allow more then 20 parts per billion in the peanuts, so minute amounts are allowed. They are tested when they are raw, and processing doesn't destroy the aflatoxin, so more can be growing in the peanut butter as it sits on the supermarket shelf.
Various peanut butters have been tested, and the leading major brands, among those containing aflatoxin, has the lowest. The store brands are next, and one of the worst offenders is the health food store peanut butter that you grind yourself.
I would recommend you never eat any peanuts and peanut butter, but if you choose to, please don't buy regular peanut butter. Even with a minute amount of aflatoxin, if you eat it frequently you are no longer getting a minute amount, and do you really want to risk your health for peanut butter?
One Way To Mitigate The Risks Of Aflatoxin
The best way to avoid any risks from peanuts is to avoid eating them. There is something you can do, though, if you still feel the need to consume peanuts and peanut butter, even with all the risks. One type of peanut has been fairly resistant to aflatoxin, and that is the Valencia peanut, which is grown mostly in New Mexico. These type of peanuts, when they are grown in the southwest of the US, mainly New Mexico, grow in dry conditions not conducive to aflatoxin, a mold which likes moisture.
One problem is that not all Valencia peanuts are grown in that area, but most are. If you use Arrowhead Mills organic peanut butter, you will avoid the pesticides and the aflatoxin, because it is made with organic Valencia peanuts, and that particular brand has never been shown to contain aflatoxin at all. Although, that is no guarantee it will be that way forever, but it is certainly the safer way to go.
Now that you know, please be very careful with your use of peanuts and peanut butter, especially for children, as their health can be even more impacted then adults, because of their size, and their still developing immune systems. They also tend to eat a lot of peanuts in candy products and desserts, and peanut butter in sandwiches.
Good Health and Wealth,