Today, knowing what I know about nutrition and our food supply, I have a love/hate relationship with peanut butter. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the creamy, gooey stuff. It was a staple around my house as a child (I think my mom was addicted to it – shhhh). I, on the other hand, have a somewhat healthy relationship with this love interest. I go for the all natural version.
Like I always say, there is no food out of bounds for me. If I want to eat something, I eat it. However, I’ve learned to find the most nutritious version of what I want.
Peanuts serve up carbs, protein (missing an amino acid) and lots of fat all in one spoonful. That’s all good – but we still have some things to consider before we indulge.
Peanuts are not technically a nut. They are a legume – you know like peas, lentils (my fav!) and other beans. Some day I may have to research how they got their name. In recent years peanut allergies are on the rise, so if this is a new food for you, or you haven’t had it in a long time, take it slow. Eat a little and wait a couple of days to see how you feel.
These legumes are typically stored in humid silos, and this environment makes them vulnerable to an infestation of alfatoxin. This toxic substance is a naturally occurring toxin produced by two types of mold – Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. That said, today there is less concern about exposure to this toxin in peanut butter, since the USDA now tests crops before allowing them to be taken to market.
These little pellets of protein are high in fat. Pound for pound, they are probably one of the fattiest foods I eat (outside of raw butter and coconut oil). The good news, is the fat they contain is mostly monounsaturated fat – can you say heart-healthy? Granted, you don’t want to eat a jar of the stuff, but an occasional meal with peanut butter will protect the heart, fill your belly, help with building muscle, and remind you of your childhood.
Always look for peanut butter that is organic (it is a high pesticide crop), and only has peanuts in the ingredients. Better yet, make your own. Seriously, it doesn’t get an easier. One of my favorite peanut butter how-tos can be found at DIYNatural. I typically use raw peanuts, and just a smidge of pink Himalayan sea salt. If you don’t have a high-speed blender or food processor, Trader Joe’s has an awesome organic peanut butter made out of Valencia peanuts – yum! And do not add sugar or any other sweetener. When you make your own you will find you don’t need it.
Lastly, I found this great website that offers a plethora of information about peanuts and peanut butter. Did you know that you can stabilize your blood sugar with peanuts and peanut butter? Ma, this stuff is good for us! In fact, the GI (Glycemic Index) for peanuts is only 14 and the Glycemic Load is 1…1, do you hear me? Whooo hooo!
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Corrie Ann Gray is a writer, researcher, coach, and cookie enthusiast who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She started the Clean Body Project to share all of her knowledge and resources with others who are interested in running their own experiment into clean holistic living. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer at www.corrieanngray.com.