Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Enough with the peanut butter!

Ok, ok, i'm officially tired of people saying that peanut butter is a healthy food choice - and now i'm going to set the record straight: It's not.

Do I love peanut butter? Yes. Did I grow up (healthy) on a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly lunches? Yes. And in very rare occassions, do I allow myself to indulge and eat it straight out of the jar? I plead the fifth. Is peanut butter good for me? No.

Let's start with the basics: Peanuts are not a nut, they're a legume. That's right, they deceivingly look like nuts and seem to sneak their way into all those mixed bags of nuts - but they are indeed NOT a nut. Don't believe me? Check the Peanut Institute: http://www.peanut-institute.org/peanut-facts/
(Yes, there is a Peanut Institute - i was surprised too).

SOMETIMES. But definitely not on a
regular basis!

But the real problem is not that peanuts are a legume, but rather that they grow with a carcinogenic mold called Aflatoxin - and yes, this mold is contained even in organic peanuts. The mold continues to grow as they are shipped and sitting on grocery store shelves. Do you think your body really wants to ingest a fungus like aflatoxin? The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) has actually established "action levels" for aflatoxin present in food - so as to protect human and animal health. Any food substance that requires the FDA to monitor the mold content is not going in my body.

Sorry, but apples and peanut butter are NOT my
idea of a healthy snack - the apples spikes blood
sugar, while the body expends a great deal of energy
trying to digest the peanut butter...

But wait - there is an even bigger problem with the peanut: It contains lectins which have inflammatory and atherogenic* properties, and which are extremely difficult on your digestive track (they are immune to digestive enzymes). In fact, this is the overall problem with lectins from grains (most notably wheat) and legumes (including soy), that are shown to have significant GI toxicity for people, and are the foods that are most commonly shown to produce digestive diseases in the body. The truth is, as one of the most mucus-forming and difficult to digest foods, your body expends a great deal of energy simply trying to digest peanuts and peanut butter.
*This means it creates an accumulation and swelling of artery walls - containing lipids (cholesterol and fatty acids - yum!).

Still not convinced? Check the nutrition labels; most peanut-butters - even the "healthy" ones - have sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils. By the way, your body cannot process hydrogenated oils, so once it goes in it...well, your guess is as good as mine. Finally, peanut butter is incredibly calorie dense - with approximately 190 calories in just 2 tablespoons. I don't know about you, but most people do not eat just 2 tablespoons.

But hope is not lost! There are a ton of other delicious peanut butter alternatives - my favorite being almond butter! Try the following:
  • Almond butter
  • Sunbutter
  • Coconut butter (when mixing it in things -likes shakes and pancakes)
  • Macademia nut butter
  • Pistachio nut butter

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