Peanut Butter Risks: Know The Top 5 Hidden Dangers

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Sadly, many conventional peanut butters are far from nourishing and clean. This could be problematic for those of you who frequently consume this popular food in one way or another (ex. the famous PB&J sandwich). This post will open your eyes to the top 5 peanut butter risks so that you can make healthier choices for yourself and your family moving forward.  

TOP 5 PEANUT BUTTER RISKS

REFINED INDUSTRIAL OILS

Take your jar of peanut butter and check the ingredient label for one of the following terms:

  • soybean oil
  • palm oil
  • fully hydrogenated vegetable oil made of cottonseed and/or rapeseed oils

Do you consume these red flag oils in your peanut butter? 

The manufacturing process of these poor quality & cheap oils involves many damaging practices:

  • high pressures & temperatures
  • degumming
  • refining
  • bleaching
  • deodorizing
  • solvents like hexane or heptane (gasoline)

This means that all the goodness that seeds naturally contain, like the beneficial omega 3 & 6, vitamin E, carotene, and lecithin are removed during the refining process.

But this also means that industrial vegetable oils lose their natural protective abilities from spoilage, making the end result rancid. 

Finally, many refined oils also contain pesticide residues coming from the poor selection of seeds used to make these oils (see red flag #3). 

TOP 5 PEANUT BUTTER RISKS

REFINED SUGAR

If you ever tasted unsalted peanuts then you know that they are actually sweet in their natural form.

With that being said, many manufacturers still add refined sugar to peanut butter under more or less obvious names like sugar, molasses, maltodextrin or honey.

And although our bodies need sugar to fuel our cells and physical activities, eating too much refined sugar causes many issues. To name a few:

  • vitamin & mineral deficiencies
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • overweight
  • dental cavities
  • inflammation

One of the reasons why we love sugar so much is because of the way it acts on our brains. 

Sugar targets the pleasure & reward center in the brain and helps to release the chemical dopamine, which motivates us and helps us to feel good. 

Research also suggests that sugar has an addictive potential like some drugs (cocaine, alcohol). 

TIP

Make sure to check the ingredient label for added sugar. In the case of peanut butter, common terms include: sugar, molasses, maltodextrin or honey. And if you eat the famous PB&J SANDWICH: know that your bread and jam can be packed with added sugar as well, making your sandwich a super loaded sugar bomb!

TOP 5 PEANUT BUTTER RISKS

HARMFUL PESTICIDES

The next red flag on the list relates to the quality of peanuts used to make the butter.

Even peanuts are sprayed with synthetic chemicals like pesticides and /or fungicides or they may contain some pesticide residues.

Why?

Because peanuts are often crop rotated with cotton, which is actually one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, also known as the “the dirtiest crop”.

So for the sake of your health, make sure to lower your intake of pesticides because long-term exposure has been linked to many health problems including:

  • reduced fertility
  • miscarriages
  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • neurotoxicity
  • Parkinson’s disease

TIP

Next time you buy peanut butter, look for jars which have one of the following organic certification labels on them (depending on your country of residence). 

Peanut Butter Risks, Top 5 Hidden Dangers, Bad Peanut Butter

TOP 5 PEANUT BUTTER RISKS

REFINED SALT

I bet that you can see salt on the ingredient label of your favorite peanut butter brand. 

Am I right?

You’ve probably heard of refined sugar but you should know that salt is as much refined as sugar.

The harsh chemical and high-temperature refining processes remove the beneficial trace minerals naturally present in salt, making the end result very low in its nutritional value. 

High Salt Intake & Health Problems

Another problem with added salt in foods is that you can end up eating more than what is actually good for you. Therefore, you could increase your risk for developing health problems associated with high salt intake including:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • edema (swelling)
  • ulcers
  • kidney damage

TIP

Control your salt intake by choosing unsalted peanut butter. REMEMBER: Salt content in packaged foods can be labelled as sodium, the Na symbol but also as a food additive like MSG (monosodium glutamate). To add salt to your foods, use some nutrient dense options like the Celtic Sea salt or Himalayan salt instead of conventional table salt.

TOP 5 PEANUT BUTTER RISKS

CARCINOGENIC AFLATOXIN

Finally, there is a problem with a toxin called Aflatoxin (Aspergillus flavus), which is produced by a mold that can grow on various crops including:

  • corn
  • soybeans
  • grains
  • peanuts

Even milk, cheese and dried spices can get contaminated with aflatoxin.  

As for peanuts, aflatoxin can develop on them in two main ways: 

  1. on growing fields located in warm and humid climates
  2. during shipping and storage depending on the moisture and temperature factors

Long-Term Exposure to Aflatoxin

Ultimately, long-term exposure to aflatoxin will lead to many health problems, especially around the digestive area.

Specifically, aflatoxin has been linked to liver cancer and peanuts in general slow-down the metabolic rate of the liver.

This is why you should avoid peanuts if you suffer from:

  • candida overgrowth
  • yeast infections
  • mold illness
  • cancer
  • digestive issues (peanuts just like other legumes are hard to digest)
  • overweight

How Can You Lower Your Exposure to Aflatoxin?

There are a few things that you can do to eliminate or minimize your dietary intake of toxic aflatoxin:

Peanut Butter Purchasing Tips

  • Make sure that you buy only whole and unbroken peanuts.
  • Avoid discolored and moldy looking peanuts.
  • Don’t buy in bulk (tightly sealed packages are best).
  • Buy peanuts that come from dry countries like New Mexico in the US.
  • If you like to use peanut grinders in the stores remember that these can get contaminated with aflatoxin as well if the machines are not kept clean.
  • Purchase smaller jars and store them in the fridge rather than in the pantry.

Liver Cleansing Supplements

One of the main functions of the liver is detoxification. Help this important organ to remove the many toxins that you ingest and inhale on a daily basis. Try:  

  • milk thistle
  • dandelion root
  • beets
  • dark leafy greens rich in chlorophyll
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice with water (very good to drink first thing in the morning)

Proper Preparation Practices

Legumes, grains, nuts and seeds have many nutritional benefits but they also contain certain anti-nutrients like phytic acid.  This enzyme inhibitor can combine with minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc or iron and prevent them from being absorbed into the body. Consequently, you can become deficient in these vital nutrients which can lead to problems like bone loss.

You can neutralize or reduce phytic acid and make grains, legumes, nuts and seeds more digestible by following proper preparation practices such as:

  • roasting (ex. peanuts)
  • fermenting (ex. sourdough)
  • sprouting (ex. sunflower seeds)
  • soaking of grains, nuts & legumes (overnight before cooking)

PEANUT ALLERGY PREVENTION:

Peanut allergy usually starts to develop in the early childhood years and the latest research shows that introducing peanuts to infants can reduce peanut allergy by more than 80%.

The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease lists specific guidelines and recommendations for health care professionals and parents on how to go about introducing peanut-containing foods to infants.

You can find links to the guidelines in the “Resources” section at the bottom of this page.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Now that you opened your eyes to the common peanut butter risks, it’s time to put it into practice!

I can understand that you may feel overwhelmed with all of this information.

But remember, it’s not all or nothing. 

  1. You can start by ditching peanut butter jars with added salt, sugar, hydrogenated or vegetable oils (roasted peanuts should be the only ingredient on the list).
  2. Once you get comfortable with this change, look for organic peanut butter unless you are already open to this option (ideal). 
  3. And if you are handy in the kitchen, you can jump into making your own peanut butter. Here is a simple recipe suggestion:
Peanut Butter Risks, DIY Peanut Butter

RESOURCES

Wondering how to switch to healthy eating? Here, you'll find tips on how to optimize your day-to-day diet, break poor eating habits and more!