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Peanut Butter...Harmful or Beneficial?

What do you mean peanut butter can be harmful? Many of us know that certain brands of peanut butter contain more than just peanuts. Many add sugar and hydrogenated oils and along with salt. If you just blend peanuts into a spread, it is harmful? As long as you aren’t allergic to peanuts.

So we may have read the labels and feel good that we feed our family peanut butter that contains just peanuts and maybe salt but have you ever thought of the fungus that could be in peanut butter? Do you keep yours in the refrigerator and does this help keep fungus down once opened?

Peanuts can contain aflatoxins which are toxins produced by fungi that grows on them. Aflatoxins are dangerous to both humans and animals but also found in small doses on several crops such as corn, cottonseed, almonds as well as found in milk, meat, figs and spices.

Aflatoxins have been found to cause liver cancer and is labeled as a human carcinogen. Our United States FDA closely regulates aflatoxins although they recognize they exist in low levels in numerous foods. It is considered an unavoidable contaminant! Alarming? Peanut butter is highly tested for this and 20 ppb, (Parts per Billion) are allowed in human foods. Some say to purchase peanut butter from a big company as they will have undergone more rigorous testing for aflatoxins but that is up to you.

So now, do we have to put peanut butter in the fridge? Processed brands containing stabilizers like hydrogenated oils, will have a longer shelf life but at what cost to your health? You may be able to leave them on the pantry shelf and not have them go bad but you have messed with the oils. Our bodies respond better with foods left in their most unprocessed state.

All natural peanut butter with only peanuts and salt needs to be refrigerated even though it doesn’t claim that need on the label. The oils have not been altered and therefore can go rancid. (Rancid definition: A food containing oil that smells or tastes bad due to being old or stale.)

So, we all have to live with small amounts of aflatoxins. Since we cant do much about it, we can chose foods with as little processing and extra ingredients as possible. So chose wisely..peanut butter doesn’t have to be harmful to your health if you read the labels. So, now you know more about peanut butter and what to buy for your needs and health benefits.