Peanut Butter: Why do You Crave it? Is it Even Healthy?

There's really nothing quite like peanut butter, especially when you crave it - nothing else will satisfy. There may be reason for your craving. In this video I discuss peanut cravings and whether or not its even healthy to consume.

In short:

  • The craving may or may not be tied to a nutritional deficiency. It's important to understand where you're craving is coming from (you'll have to do some digging and reflect on your lifestyle). Considering that peanuts are high in healthy fats, B vitamins, Vitamin E, and contain Beta-sitosterol (plant sterol - good for heart health, inflammation, balancing hormones, normalizing high cortisol levels), then it makes sense that if you're craving peanuts incessantly, it may be a way of your body trying to tell you:
    • You're under significant stress and seeking "comfort" foods that happen to lower cortisol levels naturally. The stress might be a result of various factors including energy deprivation from restrictive or long-term dieting, over-exercising and under-resting, lack of sleep, relationship hardships, work stress, etc. 
    • We naturally seek high-fat, energy dense comfort foods like peanuts/peanut butter when our bodies are taxed. Plus, the Beta-sitosterol in peanuts works to fight the effects of stress. And there's nothing wrong with reaching for the peanut butter so long as it's a "safe" kind and you're not cleaning out the jar in one sitting.
  • Is peanut butter healthy? 
    • Not if it's the commercial, overly-processed, hydrogenated kind. Hydrogenated fats are inflammatory, and inflammation is the root cause of almost all disease in the body.
    • The problem with peanuts is that most contain aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced  by certain molds (such as in moist grounds where peanuts are grown).
  • BUT, where there's a will (aka an unshakable love for peanut butter), there's a way!
    • Two varieties of peanuts are very low in or even devoid of aflatoxin: Valencia and Jungle peanuts. Both grow in dry regions that typically don't allow the mold to thrive. Jungle peanuts are actually on the wild side - an heirloom, Amazonian, unadulterated type.
    • PLUS: consuming peanut butter alongside detoxifying vegetables ( e.g., celery, carrots) or supplements such as chlorophyll or activated charcoal, can reduce the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin, help detoxify the liver, and cleanse the body.
    • If you can't get your hands on Valencia or Jungle peanuts, try to stick with an organic, trusted brand and just contact the company for information about how much aflatoxin is reported in their product (the less ppb, the better - under 5ppb is ideal).
  • All in all, unless you are allergic, there's no need to shun any foods as "toxic" or "bad." Even the healthiest foods have their drawbacks - think lectins in beans, vegetables, whole grains; oxolates in greens. Spending every waking hour worrying about foods will do you much more harm than actually enjoying a moderate array of them - just do it mindfully and go for quality.
  • Some of my favorite PB's: Once Again (they have reported aflatoxin levels below 5ppb); Trader Joe's Organic Valencia PB; Naturally More Organic Valencia PB.
  • Have you had any of these? What's your favorite peanut butter?

I. MUPUNGA, S. L. LEBELO, P. MNGQAWA, J. P. RHEEDER, and D. R. KATERERE (2014) Natural Occurrence of Aflatoxins in Peanuts and Peanut Butter from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Journal of Food Protection: October 2014, Vol. 77, No. 10, pp. 1814-1818.