Peanut butter. It’s a popular and convenient food for toddlers. In fact, most kids in the U.S. will eat around 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they reach college! But is peanut butter healthy? That’s what we’ll unpack in this post.
First, why we like it…
It tastes good. Toddlers usually love this stuff and so do adults. It almost has an addictive quality as I know many who struggle with not eating the whole jar.
It does have nutrients. Peanut butter healthy qualities include being high in niacin, folate and vitamin E. It’s also high in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and polyphenols. In fact, in one study, those that ate peanuts 4 times a week, may lower there risk for coronary heart disease. It also shows promise against Type II Diabetes in women. But, let’s keep in mind, there are many other sources of antioxidants and polyphenols.
Why we don’t like it…
It contains aflatoxins or naturally occurring fungal toxins. These are metabolized by the liver but in high doses is a carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer. Early exposure and high levels of these are associated with stunted growth in children.
It contains peanut lectin. In isolated colon cancer cells, it promoted growth.
Furthermore, the oil in peanuts appears to promote artery clogging. In fact, scientists have used it to induce atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rats, rabbits and primates.
Lastly, it can be deadly for some people. Peanuts are one of the top allergens and usually it’s a serious allergy that can lead to death. Don’t like having those kinds of foods in my house.
So, based on all of this, is peanut butter healthy? Maybe not. I stay away from peanut butter and don’t give it to Griffin often. He has had it a few times as I don’t want him to live in a bubble.
But here’s the deal, there’s so many other delicious, healthier nut butter alternatives. Almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter. Delicious! (And we haven’t even tackle the seed butters out there.) Yes, they’re more expensive, but hopefully we’re rotating our diets enough that we’re not eating daily.
How about YOU? Do you eat peanut butter? Do your kids? Have you found a tasty alternative?