Are Peanuts Paleo?
Are peanuts paleo? Good question.
The Quick Answer
No, peanuts are not paleo.
Most people consider peanuts safe to eat and even a lot of paleo eaters consume peanuts as a healthy, low–calorie snack. But the truth is that peanuts (and other legumes) simply are not paleo.
Many people are allergic to peanuts, though having a peanut allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have anaphylactic shocks. Some people develop only mild symptoms such as a rashes, indigestion, diarrhea, acidity, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Why Are Peanuts Not Paleo?
Beans and legumes such as peanuts, black beans, and lentils aren’t as bad as grains (which are loaded with gluten and other hazardous substances that must be avoided at all costs). But, to reduce their toxicity, most legumes need to be cooked for a long period of time.
Legumes are an average source of protein but a massive source of carbohydrates (that are not actually required and which may elicit a huge glycemic response). Legumes are also a source of gas and bloating for many people.
If you must eat legumes, eat them the traditional way by sprouting and fermenting them in order to get rid of majority of the hazardous phytic acid and lectins that they contain.
Peanuts are an alarming member of the legume family. Since the last decade, the number of people with a peanut allergy has doubled, suggesting that there’s something fishy about peanuts.
Many hypothesis and theories have been put forward but the actual reason behind this allergic response to peanuts remains unknown. One theory involves aflatoxin, which is contained in peanuts and certain crops like rice and wheat.
Aflatoxin is basically a toxin that is produced by the mould that appears when certain crops such as peanuts are stored in bulk. Aflatoxin is a well-known carcinogenic agent and has been associated with malignant lesions. Apart from causing cancer, it can also cause an immune system response (an allergy), when consumed in great quantities.
However there’s no solid proof to support this theory. Nevertheless just knowing that something this toxic is present inside the peanuts you eat should put an end to your peanut cravings.
When peanuts are being roasted, some of the phytic acid they contain is reduced. However the roasting also modifies the protein structure. This may make the peanuts more allergenic.
In the United States, peanuts are mostly consumed in the roasted form, whereas in China and some other countries, peanuts are usually consumed once they’ve been boiled or fried.
According to study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (1), peanut allergies are less prevalent in China than in the United States, mainly because of this difference in the cooking. Roasting peanuts may increase your risk of developing food allergies and gut inflammation (2).
Presence Of Atherogenic Oil
Peanut oil contains a moderate amount of monounsaturated fat (46.8% of the total amount of fatty acids present in the peanut oil are monounsaturated fats).
However the oil also contains fairly high levels of PUFAs (about 33% omega-6 linoleic acid).
Healthy fats supplied by peanuts support cardiac function and minimize the risk of cardiovascular ailments. But, at the same time, the high concentration of atherogenic fats may also increase the risk of atherosclerosis and may lead to ischemic heart disease and stroke.
By washing and cooking peanuts properly, you can reduce the lectin content in peanuts, as well as their atherogenic effect, although this can’t be eliminated entirely.
Peanuts Are Not Paleo
Peanuts are legumes and are therefore not paleo.
Each tablespoon of peanut butter is made up of nine to twelve peanuts, so the next time you have some, just think of how many peanuts you’re eating. If living without a peanut butter would be the hardest thing for you to do, try almond butter. Instead of snacking on bags of peanuts, look for healthier alternatives like sunflower seeds.
How To Know What Is And Isn’t Paleo
Check out is Paleo.io, the mobile app that answers the question, “is __ paleo?”. Paleo.io comes with the most comprehensive paleo diet food list out there, so no matter which food you’re confused about, you’ll always be able to find out whether or not it’s paleo.
And now you know the truth to the question, “Are peanuts paleo?”
- Beyer, K., Morrowa, E., Li, X. M., Bardina, L., Bannon, G. A., Burks, A., & Sampson, H. A. (2001). Effects of cooking methods on peanut allergenicity. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 107(6), 1077-1081.
- Mondoulet, L., Paty, E., Drumare, M. F., Ah-Leung, S., Scheinmann, P., Willemot, R. M., … & Bernard, H. (2005). Influence of thermal processing on the allergenicity of peanut proteins. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 53(11), 4547-4553.
- Stephens, A. M., Dean, L. L., Davis, J. P., Osborne, J. A., & Sanders, T. H. (2010). Peanuts, peanut oil, and fat free peanut flour reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors and the development of atherosclerosis in Syrian golden hamsters. Journal of food science, 75(4), H116-H122.
Photo credit: Martin L
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