Peanut Butter: The Epic Love Affair

Peanut Butter has always been one of my favorite foods. As a child, I used to perk up anytime my mom packed me a fluffer-nutter for lunch and I had no shame eating it straight out of the jar when I got home from school. Even as recently as three years ago, when training for the Ottawa Marathon, P.B. and J was the first thing I ate after my long runs. And then, the truth. Peanut Butter, exposed. We started studying Omega fats in Biochemistry and that’s when it went all downhill. I recall my professor discussing the inflammatory response and highlighting Arachadonic Acid as one of the main catalysts for the body’s inflammatory response. “Funny”, I thought to myself “that sounds very similar to ‘beurre d’arachide’ the beautiful words on the front of my peanut butter jars.” That’s because the main fat in Peanuts, is Arachadonic Acid. NO! You mean to tell me my beloved Peanut Butter is, gasp, PRO-inflammatory!? Sad, but true. :(

In our diet we should strive to eat foods with Omega 6:3 ratios in the 4:1 – 1:1 range. This means keeping those Omega-6 fats low. Sadly, most of our diets are in the 15:1 – 24:1 range due to eating highly processed foods and high Omega-6 content oils such as Safflower, Soy, Corn, and yes Peanut. Our body treats Omega-6 fats in these oils JUST like the pro-inflammatory fats the body naturally produces when we are injured. Peanut Butter, sadly, has 4,000 milligrams of Omega-6 but only 1 milligram of Omega-3. Not good.

The problems with my darling P.B. doesn’t stop there. Mycotoxins. Yes, that it’s as scary as it sounds. Mycotoxins are metabolites that are produced by member of the Fungi Kingdom. As the name implies, they are toxic. How toxic? Studies are done to show the effect of diet on liver cancer. Sadly, the liver cancer is induced in animals. By what you ask? The potent Mycotoxin found on Peanuts, Aflatoxin. Yikes!

I see you Aflatoxin!

So as you can imagine, I was pretty deflated after all of this.  But really, eating P.B. is just not worth the drama! Sorry Jiffy, our affair is over! But don’t despair, there are many other beneficial nut/seed butters you can enjoy! My current favorite is Pumpkin Seed Butter for it’s high iron content! Also pumpkin seeds contain ALA (Omega-3) which our bodies convert to DHA and EPA.

So think twice before you pick up the Peanut Butter!

Be Well!

13 thoughts on “Peanut Butter: The Epic Love Affair

  1. Great post, but you’re breaking my heart! I ADORE peanut butter! I eat it every day!

    How about almond butter, what’t the Omega 6-3 ration on that stuff?

    • trust me, I’m breakin my OWN heart! I used to eat it out of the jar! haha!
      Almond Butter is a bit better but still sadly high on the 6:3 ratio. (about 28:1 per cup) But peanut butter, for 1 cup, is 181:1. (that is not typo) So Almond Butter is a VAST improvement.
      As will all rich yumminess – “Metron Ariston” (moderation is best!)

  2. Oh so sad! haha. This was very informative though, thank you!! I love to dip my apples in it, so I will try out some other nut butters. In terms of pb inducing an inflammatory response… would you be able to describe what exactly that does to our bodies? I’m not too well-informed in this area re: the impact that it might have on our bodies.
    Thanks, Candice! :D

    • I would be happy to elaborate! :) Ok so get on your “smart pants” lol!

      Inflammation has a lot to do with a fatty acid known as arachidonate (arachidonic acid) or 20:4 (meaning it contains 20 carbons and has 4 degrees of unsaturation).

      20:4 is polyunsaturated fat and a member of the omega 6 family of fatty acids. In addition to nuts and oils, Arachidonate is found in the phospholipid bilayer of our cells. So naturally it’s in our body. However in the case of certain diseases (cardiovascular artery disease, stroke, asthma, colitis, allergy attacks) or in tissue trauma (e.g. hitting your head) 20:4 is released from membrane phospholipids by an enzyme known as cPLA2.

      20:4 is then used by an enzyme we have cyclooxygenase (COX)
      Through a three step conversion COX turns 20:4 into compounds known as eicosanoids.

      Eicosanoids are biologically active and many of these will contribute to inflammation, platelet aggregation, and vasoconstriction. If you are truly injured this is a good thing! But if you are not, bad!!

      The issue then that when we consume excess omega 6, the COX will convert them to eicosanoids. In small amounts of course this is not a danger but prolonged consumption can have very negative effects.

      Hope that helps!

    • I LOVE hemp butter! It has a 3:1 Omega 6 to 3 ratio so it’s in the ideal range. In addition it also contains Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which serves to help balance hormones in women :) it’s a source of complete protein as well. It tastes very..”earthy” so I like to throw it into sauces and dips.

  3. Pingback: Label Reading: Rule #1 « Healthy Herbivore

    • Thanks for the comment!

      While pumpkin seeds are not an ideal source of Omega 3 fatty acids (chia and flax are MUCH better) William Sears, M.D. states that “high-quality pumpkin oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1.” This website states only nutritional information for roasted seeds as opposed to raw seeds (which would contain MUCH less rancid/omega 6 fats)

      • Wow, did you look at the site that Phil was referencing? I’d love to just believe Dr. Sears, but the other site seems pretty darned complete in their nutritional analysis of foods. I had switched to sesame seed butter when I found out my beloved PB (also a -loved it to the point that straight out of the jar is fine if there’s no bread, crackers, fruit, celery handy – eater) but looking at the numbers on just about any of the alternatives makes me think that I either need to forgo them all or might as well just switch back to my favorite. I mean, let’s face it, almond, hemp, sesame, cashew, etc. NONE of them really taste AS good as PB!

    • Hi Paula,

      Virtually all nuts are covered with mold unless they are thoroughly cleaned and soaked. That being said, a raw walnut butter from a company that takes the time to do soak the nuts, would be ideal.

      Cheers!

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