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Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Is peanut butter healthy? Find out why or why not and what I choose to feed my family.

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? Find out in this post and video.

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.

Final Word…

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?

Sources:

  • http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-bad-is-peanut-butter-really/#axzz2RE0SVpt0
  • http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20041215/peanut-butter-packs-healthy-punch
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40 Comments

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  1. You have to weight the good and bad. My son is addicted to peanut butter. Due to sensory issues and other food intolerances, this is one of the few high fat high protein foods he tolerates. So we roll with it. He has a PB and J almost daily. We tried other nut butters but he didn’t care for them and I didn’t care for the cost. We stick to brands that are non gmo and no additives :)

    • So true. We do what we can do.

      Having said that, have you ever tried sun butter (from sunflower seeds)? It tastes the closest to peanut butter.

  2. http://www.foodsafetywatch.org/factsheets/aflatoxins/

    It looks like a variety of foods can also be contaminated.

    What foods can be contaminated?

    Aflatoxins may be present in a wide range of food commodities, particularly cereals, oilseeds, spices and tree nuts. Maize, groundnuts (peanuts), pistachios, brazils, chillies, black pepper, dried fruit and figs are all known to be high risk foods for aflatoxin contamination, but the toxins have also been detected in many other commodities. Milk, cheese and other dairy products are at risk of contamination by aflatoxin M. The highest levels are usually found in commodities from warmer regions of the world where there is a great deal of climatic variation.

    It is important to recognise that, although it is primary food commodities that usually become contaminated with aflatoxins by mould growth, these toxins are very stable and may pass through quite severe processes. For this reason they can be a problem in processed foods, such as peanut butter.

  3. haha i cant wait to hear what (if) you’ll say about nutella. i mean. frosting. lol

  4. Before everyone takes the video as being the Holy Grail on peanut butter, do your own search and find out what other sources say. It’s not fair to any of us for wrong/inaccurate or partially true/false information to make decisions for us. You’ll find sources that say peanut butter is good for us as much as you’ll find sources that REPEAT what other sources say. Don’t let any one source make your determinations. I agree with Aruni in her observations.

    • And by the way, why wasn’t it pointed out that peanuts are NOT nuts…they’re a legume. So, compare it to other legumes, not to nuts.

  5. I LOVE IT, LOVE IT LOVE IT……but I would try to replace my butter with something else. I’ve tried a seed butter, almond butter, tahini, etc they all taste blah. The natural peanut butters are all yuck too. Except Skippy Natural PB….it tastes just like real PB – probably because there is still sugar added to it.

    Any suggestions of a ‘great tasting alternative’ that is sweet and actually good tasting…not just good for you??

  6. Love you Genevieve, and thank you for bringing awareness to the fact that peanuts are not the health food many people believe them to be. What I’m not loving is the implication that not having peanuts = living in a bubble. Some of us don’t have a choice.

  7. I remember living on peanut butter as a kid especially when my dad would be out of work. It was such a staple to get us through difficult times.

    http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/whats-causing-all-these-peanut-allergies.html
    This is a good article because it discusses an interesting point that natural or organic peanut butters tend to contain more of that bad fungus, Aflatoxins. While the more processed brands like JIF and Skippy have less amounts, they are loaded with artificial sugars and other bad additives. I know our allergist is currently working on research in relation to the fungus and peanut allergies in children. Since the fungus is so common and can be found in even the most processed brands, he is wondering if the reaction is to the fungus and not just the peanut. Dr. Weil and other websites mention that aflatoxins have been found in pecans, pistachios and walnuts, as well as milk, grains, soybeans and spices. He recommends eating peanut butter in moderation and recommends other nuts and butters that have a better health profile especially from the oils those nuts contain, like almonds and cashews.

    http://www.glidercentral.net/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=69760
    Even for pets, it looks like aflatoxins that are created by Aspergillus species of mold, cannot be completely eradicated from food, but some processed help to reduce the amounts.

    Another article points out the difficulty in reducing the amounts even by cooking and washing. The example discusses roasted coffee beans reduced toxins by 50%, but some toxins still remain.
    http://www.foodsafetywatch.org/factsheets/aflatoxins/

    Always good to research more information and you have to do what works for you. My daughter is allergic to peanuts. Now that she is 2, we will be having her tested again. I think they are adding the mold and fungus test this time around as well to see if those could be the culprits as well.

  8. What brand of almond butter do you buy?

    • I like Once again raw, organic nut and seed butters. I find Azure Standard has the best price.

  9. actually i love peanut butter. i love it on toast big time and when im in the mood i can eat right out of the jar. and yes i grew up eating peanut butter sandwiches and when i have kids yes i will probably give to my kids every now and then

  10. I’ve made a bunch of lifestyle changes over the past three years of my life. My most recent endeavor is going raw vegan. I was very close before while I was still at home and I was working and buying my own groceries, but now that I am a freshman in college in a very tiny dorm room and no car, my options are for the most part limited to what is on campus. I’ve always had a hard time kicking out PB almost as if it’s an addiction. In our cafeteria a huge daunting bowl of it sits out by the bread. It’s not even the good kind, it’s a generic, non-organic, trans fat stuffed regular peanut butter and it’s so difficult to kick! Any suggestions?

    • Prayer! Or get an accountability partner and just try not having it one day at a time. Also, try cashew butter as it tastes sorta similar :)

  11. We have a “trail mix” bar in the morning occasionally which has mixed nuts and seeds. I want to strive to soak our nuts, but we don’t. We have not had peanutbutter sandwiches all year, though I have made a raw chocolate dessert with it. I have replaced our nut butters with goat chèvre and Jelly.

  12. We’ve been into healthy foods for years and remember hearing long ago (from non-affiliated legitimate sources) that the Arrowhead Mills brand of peanut butter used peanuts free of fungal contamination, most likely due to their growing location. With this information we’ve always used the AM brand only. Has anyone heard of this, and if so can it still be confirmed today? If any info on this, please post!

  13. I have no problem with advocating for natural living but you should be careful with what you say and imply. For example, peanuts can be contaminated with aflatoxin (less so in the highly processed brands that I don’t like, as it turns out), but a quick google search reveals that almonds can be similarly contaminated. I personally am not worried about aflatoxicosis or even the theoretical risk of cancer (we’re a long way from proof), but if you want to avoid aflatoxins you should inform yourself about all potential sources (also pecans, pistachios, wheat, corn, milk of animals who eat the above).
    Similarly, peanuts contain lectins, but so do almonds and cashews (at similar or higher levels). Do we know that peanut lectins are worse than almond or cashew? or that peanut oil is worse than almond?
    I apologize if I come across as nitpicking, but if you want to be a resource and advocate for certain choices I think you should inform people about these things. It isn’t clear to me from your post that peanuts are worse than other nuts, although that is the conclusion we are encouraged to draw. There are I’m sure many other arguments against peanuts and in favor of other nuts, but i think a slightly more comprehensive summary of them would greatly strengthen your post.

    • Thank you for presenting these points. Great comment.

    • Well said. You make some very good points

      I remember reading that if you use blanched almonds you are one step better off given removal of the skin.

      • lets do the math too much of any thing can kill you even water.

    • Well said, Aruni!!! And I ditto! I get organic peanut butter…just nuts and nothing else…that Amish near here grind. It’s delish and I eat it daily along with almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, and Brazil nuts, all organic (I order from Nuts.com if anyone’s interested–a fabulous company). I also eat various seeds and am a raw vegan except for wild Alaskan Coho Salmon I eat twice a week (nothing else). So I’ve seen other websites (Chris Beat Cancer.com for one…another excellent website with links to invaluable information and testimonies) that poo poo peanut butter, and I considered giving it up, but I’m not going to…not until there’s proof beyond the shadow of a doubt that it’s worse than other nuts, etc. we also eat. I don’t want to hear stuff that’s repeated over and over because others heard from someone or somewhere and didn’t do their own study/research on it.

  14. I love your wisdom, Genevieve!

  15. What about natural peanut butter, made from organic peanuts and oils–the kind you have to stir and keep in the fridge? Is that as dangerous as the regular peanut butter?

  16. I made walnut butter in the fall since walnuts fall freely in our lawn (neighbours tree). So delicious. I’m a big peanut butter fan too though

  17. We give our twins homemade almond butter. I think it tastes better. I tried peanut butter actually, but one of my sons had a reaction – got red blotches all over his face from it, so we called that off and just do almond butter instead. I was kind of bummed they couldn’t eat PB&J but I guess now that this news is coming out it’s maybe a good thing!

  18. we do use peanut butter as a treat. the kids love it, and though my husband and i don’t eat it (neither of us feel good on it) it’s not something we keep out of the house completely. that said, we usually use almond butter, and if i could find more truly gluten-free nuts, would make my own nut butters. i love macadamia, cashew and brazil nuts in butters, but they’re expensive, and i used to make them until i found i was reacting to the cross-contamination in many nuts. especially macadamias and cashews. someday i’ll find a good source of clean nuts and make more nut butters! meanwhile, hummus is our go-to creamy dip, or organic full-fat greek yogurt. as for sandwiches, we don’t do those often and peanut butter and jelly always repulsed me as a child so i’ve not made it a staple in our house at all! jelly is also a treat b/c it’s concentrated sugars. banana and peanut butter- yeah, we’ve done that.

  19. Our family loves almond butter, cashew butter, and peanut butter. But we will only buy organic peanut butter in order to avoid the GMO’s that have become common in peanut crops, and are linked to the increase in allergens.

    • peanut butter is gmo?

  20. We eat peanut butter at home, when i was a kid i hated peanut butter but when i started living with my papa natural and he loves peanut butter. i do give my son some peanut butter but he doesnt like it as much as he love vegimite. i really dont eat it any more because i am breastfeeding the newest addition to the family our 3 month old baby girl and i dont want to eat peanut butter just in case she develops a peanut allergy.

    • I heard on Dr. Oz or The Doctors or saw it online that in order to keep your kid’s from getting a peanut allergy, to give them small doses when they’re babies so their immune systems get use to it. Anyway, if I were you, I wouldn’t stop eating it while you breast feed…it may actually save her in the long run from having a peanut allergy as she ages. Just a thought or something to find out for yourself.

  21. I LOVE peanut butter but I asked to know, so I am thankful! The cost definitely does throw us off, but it’s true that if we just consume less, almond or seed butters are totally doable.

  22. Aww Mama Natural this post breaks my heart. I LOVE peanut butter. However, this is good information to have. I truly believe knowledge is power. Why are almonds okay but not peanuts?

    • Exactly, Cynthia–look at Aruni’s comment and the information she presents. Gives you something to think about and more knowledge for making informed decisions.

  23. I grew up eating PBJ very frequently. I thought peanut butter was its own food group I ate so much of the stuff. If I didn’t like what was for dinner, I had a sandwich. I probably had 1,500 just while I was in elementary school. I think it will be hard to give up the gooey goodness. Almond butter just isn’t the same. I hope to find an alternative that both the kids and I will enjoy.

    • I have tried just about everything you can imagine and my kids just won’t give up on the real deal

  24. Well, i’m not from the US, but i’m one of those Australian children who are anaphylactic. If i ingest even the slightest amount, i will go into anaphylactic shock, and i could potentially die.

    So glad you did this video. Maybe the word will spread, and peanut butter will cease being as common as it is.

    It’s so hard being allergic.. there as so many points of accidental ingestion. You have to avoid traces as well! So when my friends make food to share, i can’t have any. :( It’s hard to feel safe!

    But yeah, so glad that it’s actually not good for you!
    I’m 14, 15 in September, and i first found out i was allergic when i was 3.

    I was told by my doctor at RPA Hospital, Sydney (Major Hospital), that according to studies, there is a link between a Vitamin D deficiency and peanut allergy.
    In 2011 i was tested for a deficiency, and it was discovered that i am deficient. I’m hoping that by taking supplements for the vitamin, i might outgrow my allergies. :)

    Anyway, great, informative post! :)

  25. I used to love peanut butter! Had ’em on waffles all the time for breakfast. Then found out it’s not that good for you…. so what’s a nut butter lovin’ gal to do? Bought some pecans in bulk, dried in our excaliber dehydrator and now we make pecan butter!! oh so yummy!!!! I’ve also made macadamia nut butter when our mac nut tree produced and have made almond butter too. sometimes we mix nuts and make pecan pistachio nut butter. Mmmm…

  26. I absolutely love peanut butter, but I also have mostly given it up. On very rare occasion I will still have a little, but otherwise I avoid it. My son is allergic. We like nut butters as a substitute.

  27. Thank you for bring awareness about Peanut Butter! Because of the reasons you stated we eat almond butter (raw and roasted kinds) and avoid peanut butter and products that use peanut butter or peanut oil. We’ve tried sunflower butter and cashew as well. We’ve made wonderfully delicious healthy desserts and snacks using almond butter when peanut butter is called for. It’s delicious and worth the cost in my opinion.

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