Substitute nut or seed butter for all peanut products.
What’s wrong with peanut butter? Well for starters peanuts are not nuts, they are technically a legume. Ok so what’s wrong with legumes? The funny thing about legumes (beans, peas, & peanuts among others) is that they are generally considered healthy by most. I hear often that beans are good for you because they are a “good source of protein. “ A good source of protein, really? When compared to what, potato chips? I hate to break the news to you; but beans are predominantly carbohydrate with a little bit of what Robb Wolf calls “third world protein,” enough protein so you survive but not thrive. This makes sense considering how cheap legumes are. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend about her lunch. She had a garden salad with beans. I asked her where her protein was and she replied “the beans.” Um, nope beans are carbohydrate so where was your protein? She replied “beans are protein” in her matter-of-fact voice (like all teachers have.) So I had to explain to her that beans were in fact predominantly carbohydrate based and luckily for this math teacher, the facts are backed up by numbers.
The nutrition facts label for chickpeas reads like this: (source 2)
Serving Size: 1 cup
4 grams fat
45 grams carbohydrate
15 grams protein
We know that: 1 gram of fat is 9 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories, and 1 gram of protein is 4 calories. So when you do the math, the percentages break down looks like this:
1 cup of chickpeas = 269 cal
4g of fat x 9 calories=36 or 13%
45g of carb x 4 cal. =180 or 65%
15 g protein x 4 cal. =60 or 22%
Sure 15 grams of protein is a decent amount but in order to get that amount of protein you need to eat an entire cup of beans. But what if I told you that a cup of roasted chicken breast has 43 grams of protein with 231 calories and 5 grams of fat? (source 3) Now can you see why beans are an inferior protein to meat? (And I didn’t even get into to the fact that plant-based proteins are not complete-meaning they lack some amino acids.)
What really makes peanuts a bad choice are aflatoxins. Just like the name says, aflatoxins are toxins that form from mold that is created when crops like peanuts are stored in large masses.
“Although aflatoxins are known to cause cancer in animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows them at low levels in nuts, seeds, and legumes because they are considered “unavoidable contaminants.” (source 4)
Unavoidable contaminants…..um, really? Can we talk about that for a sec…let’s just suffice it to say that just like legumes bother my stomach and make me bloated (the sugar in legumes aren’t properly digested so they feed bacteria in the gut which ferments the sugar thus causing gas and bloating…this is why beans are called the magical fruit LOL) so do peanuts. I actually get just as bloated eating a serving of peanuts as I do if I eat beans. I would have never known this if I hadn’t experimented by removing them for a period of time.I love sunflower seed butter and almond butter. Anything that I used to eat with peanut butter can be made with either of those two.
Knowing what peanuts do to my body and the fact that they are most likely contaminated is enough for me to not feed the stuff to my kids on a regular basis. Not to say they don’t have some here and there, but I make damn sure it’s organic from a good reputable brand and it’s a very small amount.
If cancer causing aflatxins weren’t enough to get you to switch over to almond butter just yet, there’s always the phytate content. When ingested, phytic acid binds to minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, and manganese in the gastrointestinal tract unless they are soaked, sprouted, or fermented first (source 5.) I don’t know about you, but that seems like an awful lot of work for food that is a mediocre source of protein at best.