Thursday, October 8, 2009

Evil peanut butter

Peanut butter...evil or not so evil?

Pictured here is one of my favorite fall/winter snacks  - a small apple and 1 tbsp chunky peanut butter. Probably has some sort of childhood association...maybe snack time in preschool? Organic natural peanut butter, no added crap.

I think the paleo/primal crowd believes that peanuts are bad because they are legumes, not true nuts, and also for the aflatoxins and the anti-nutrients. But I am not 100% convinced that peanuts are any more evil than other nut butters.

Peanuts are not evil?

Nutritional facts for 1 tablespoon peanut butter:
100 calories
70 calories from fat (70%)
8 g fat

3.5 g carbs
1 g fiber
4.5 g protein

Nutritional facts for 1 tablespoon almond butter:
101 calories
85 calories from fat (85%)
9.5 g fat
3.4 g carbs
.6 g fiber
2.4 g protein

  • The main difference I see is that peanut butter is slightly lower in fat and slightly higher in protein than the often recommended alternative, almond butter*. So what gives? Does your body REALLY know that a peanut grows on a vine and an almond grows on a tree? Gimme a break! :)

  • Let's look at the aflatoxin issue. Aflatoxins (toxin from Aspergillus fungus) are very bad for you. According to wikipedia, crops which are frequently affected by aflatoxin  "include cereals (maize, sorghum, pearl milllet, rice, wheat), oilseeds (peanut, soybean, sunflower, cotton), spices (chile peppers, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, ginger), and tree nuts (almond, pistachio, walnut, coconut, brazil nut)."

    Yep that's right - TREE NUTS and COCONUT!!! (and boo hoo chile peppers??? Now I am upset!) So when you hear from the "experts" don't eat peanuts cuz they have aflatoxins, notice that some of the same people say that almonds, ginger, coconut are the best foods on earth...?

Peanuts may be a bit evil?

  • Are there really more anti-nutrients, in particular lectins,  in peanuts than real nuts? This might be one thing that is true. Beans and grains, especially wheat, have a ton of lectins. Nightshades - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant - also contain lectins. And eggs and dairy! I'd starve...haha. Looks like I have to do Jezwyn's amazing carnivore plan!

  • What about Omega-3s? Indeed, peanuts are low in Omega-3s. You shouldn't live only on peanut butter but it seems to me that 1 tablespoon or a handful of "pea-legumes" is OK once in a while.

  • Peanuts are a common allergen and you could die of anaphylactic shock. That's BAD. If you are allergic, don't eat them! haha!

  • For some people, nut butters are evil because they cannot stop eating them. They are super high in calories. But that is not just peanut butter.

If you don't want to eat peanut butter, for whatever reason, DON'T of course! :) But think for yourself! Don't force yourself to make gado-gado with almond butter just because someone said you have to! Yucko! :)

So what do YOU think? Peanuts - evil or not so evil?

*btw not bashing almonds - I love almonds! My fav nut.


  1. I'd say omega 6 and the likelihood of rancidity are two issues. I do enjoy a palm full of peanuts on occasion and there is nothing like buying a bag of boiled peanuts from a roadside stand on the way to a football game in the Fall. That might be a SouthEastern thing...

  2. This is great timing on your post. My sister was visiting from the west coast and we got into a discussion about Peanut Butter just last night as I declined peanut butter with my celery. She was shocked because as a kid I used to eat it by the jar daily. I told her a little about the anti-nutrients, etc., that you mention above. I think you're right that peanut butter from time to time is alright. My own personal frequency now is about once every month or so whether it's PB or just plain peanuts, when offered, I don't buy the stuff myself. I'm much more insistent on trying to exclude all wheat from my diet than I am anything else.

  3. Good stuff. I love peanut butter but I always feel guilty after I give in. I have it maybe 1-2x a week. Unfortunately, I usually end up having too yummy.

    You gave me some interesting things to ponder...maybe I shouldnt feel so guilty.

  4. I actually err on the side of caution with all nut butters - as in I don't eat any of them. They're all lousy, even the organic ones. They take a nut, full of phytates, roast it, then grind it. You end up with an expensive jar of a ranci spread that really has no nutritional merit. If I want nut butter, I buy raw, organic nuts, soak and sprout them, dehydrate them and then grind them up. But still, all those steps mean I don't have much time to do it so we eat nut butter pretty infrequently.

    Back in the day I would polish off half a jar of peanut butter no problem. It was gooooood.

    Love your site!!

  5. Hi everyone - thank you for your thoughtful comments!

    Hi Rezzrovv - The rancidity issue is something I didn't mention. I guess the same problem is true for all nuts? I keep mine in the refrig or freezer. Thanks for leaving a comment!

    Hi Zach - I'm with you, I think the occasional peanuts here and there won't hurt you too much. Wheat on the other hand seems to be much more deleterious. Now when I do indulge in some wheat I usually don't feel too well...Thanks for visiting! You have a great site.

    Hi Mark - I'm glad to maybe make you feel less guilty! I wrote this post for that exact reason. I first heard about aflatoxin from a biology teacher who refused to eat peanut butter and told us it was bad. Every time I would look at peanuts/peanut butter I would think "oh BAD, can't eat that!" But almond butter is just too gluey to me. Then I started it really true that peanuts are that much worse? Or is it just nomenclature - nuts vs legumes?
    How's the 6WC going? Have a wonderful weekend!

    Hi Tara - thanks so much for the compliment!!! I have heard that the best way to make/eat nut butters is to soak and sprout them then grind them yourself. I guess I don't eat enough to warrant the effort. Do you soak all nuts (those you don't grind)?

    Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Thanks again for visiting and commenting! :)

  6. My 2 cents:
    Peanuts can be chock full of aflatoxins. That was the cause of the recent peanut butter recall. Ill pass.

    Peanuts are actually a legume like a beans and not a nut which is why they share a lot in common with beans as you pointed out. While beans aren't the worst thing to eat in the world, they also certainly are not the most nutritious.

    I will take real nut butter over peanut butter any day. Don't trust the bought stuff? Make your own like I do. You don't have to soak, sprout, dehydrated etc. All you need to do is stick nuts a food processor long enough and it turns to butter. Talk about delicious!

    The SoG

  7. Correction: I re-read and you did mention aflatoxins. The thing about it is that peanuts specifically are notorious for high levels of aflatoxins.

    The SoG

  8. Hi SoG,

    You are correct of course! Now you all have me thinking I need to try making my own nut butter...macadamia or hazelnut sounds pretty good!

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment SoG!

  9. Occasional PB for me....
    I love a good peanut sauce.


  10. Hi Marc,
    Thanks for the comment! Peanut sauce is so tasty as long as it doesn't have too much added sugar, right?

    Have a great weekend!