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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

What's Wrong With Peanuts?

I eat a lot of nuts - I use them in baking, I have them as a snack, I put them on my breakfast and I have a definite obsession with nut butter (namely almond and cashew butters) but I do tend to avoid peanuts. Peanut butter is probably the most popular nut butter and plenty of people reach for it as a healthy snack, but is it really as good for you as you think? Peanuts aren't actually all they're cracked up to be, they're okay in small doses but if you eat nuts as much as me it's perhaps safer to opt for other nuts. Let me explain why.

First let me tell you that peanuts aren't actually nuts, as they grow underground they're legumes. Legumes contain something called phytic acid which is an acid that binds together nutrients in the food, preventing you from absorbing them. So yes, peanuts contain a lot of nutrients but as they also contain phytic acid your body won't be absorbing all those nutrients....a major foodie downer! Nuts do also contain phytic acid but not as much as legumes.

Peanuts also have a high lectin content. Lectins are proteins found in most foods, some are fine whereas some can be problematic. The lectins found in legumes (including peanuts) can really irritate the lining of the gut and can even damage the intestinal wall contributing to IBS, leaky gut syndrome and other digestive issues. In many legumes these armful lectins can be destroyed but in the case of peanuts it's very difficult for them to be wiped out by cooking as they're highly heat resistant, so those sneaky gut irritants will always get through. This is obviously something none of us want as a healthy digestive system is vital for a healthy, happy body and mind.

Peanuts contain something called aflatoxins which are extremely problematic and not something we want to be consuming. Aflatoxins are a known carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) and are produced by the mould that tends to grow on peanuts and is extremely hard to eliminate. Even organic or '100% natural' peanut products (including peanut butter) will be contaminated with aflatoxins.

Peanuts aren't the devil and if you want to enjoy them on occasion then go for it, I don't eliminate them completely from my diet and neither should you if you don't want to, but if you're someone who consumes nuts as a snack often or loves nut butter every day then try opting for alternatives. Almond butter is actually much tastier than peanut butter in my opinion and cashews are my favourite to snack on! Nuts are a great healthy snack but skipping the peanuts is the best thing for your beautiful body.

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