Peanuts Are Not Paleo

Thanks, Wikipedia.

It’s clear that people are very attached to their peanut butter. And since peanut butter has the word “nut” in it, even Paleo people assume it’s ok to eat it, despite the warnings all over every Paleo site in the internet kingdom.

Peanuts are as much nut as sweetbreads are bread. And sweetbreads are organs, by the way. Legumes aren’t on the Paleo diet and therefore, peanuts aren’t either. Let’s talk details.


While legumes, or beans (lentils, black beans, soy, peanuts, etc.), aren’t as bad as grains, which contain gluten and other harmful substances, they should be avoided. They absolutely must be cooked for long periods of time, sprouted, and preferably fermented to remove, at best, most of the harmful lectins and phytic acid contained in them.

Legumes are a mediocre source of protein, a huge source of unnecessary carbohydrates, and therefore produce a big glycemic response. Moreover, legumes give most people gas. I think they’re sort of a waste of calories.


In my opinion, peanuts are one of the more alarming legumes. With the number of peanut allergies doubling over the last decade, there’s clearly something going on here. There are hypotheses, but no concrete reason for the increase in allergic response to peanuts. One theory has to do with the aflatoxin present in most of the peanuts (and wheat, rice and other major crops) in the U.S.

Aflatoxin is a toxin that is created by mold that forms when crops like peanuts are stored in large masses. It’s one of the most carcinogenic substances known. Besides the fact that it could cause cancer if enough of it is ingested, there’s also growing suspicion that aflatoxin could be causing an immune system reaction – an allergy.

There’s really not enough evidence to prove this yet, but the fact that there’s a poisonous substance permeating your peanuts should give you pause.

Roasted Peanuts Are Worse

Although the roasting process will rid the peanut of some of its phytic acid, it actually changes the structure of the proteins so as to make them more allergenic. By the way, when you hear the word allergy, you might be thinking to yourself, “Well I don’t have anaphylactic shock when I eat peanuts, so I’m fine.” But allergies can be way less severe than your throat closing up. It could be as subtle as a skin rash or just feeling mentally out of it. Or maybe it makes your digestion wonky.

Anyway, we roast our peanuts in the U.S. while in China, they boil or fry them. According to this study, China wins because the allergenic potential of the boiled and fried peanuts was less than the allergenic potential of the roasted peanuts. That may be one of the reasons so many more people in the U.S., and not China, are allergic to peanuts.

There are about 9-12 peanuts in a tablespoon of peanut butter, so if you’re eating a few tablespoons of the stuff a day, that’s kind of a lot of peanuts.

Overall, I think almond butter is a better choice if you’re going to insist on having a brown spread on your toast – wait… banana? I just don’t think peanuts are worth it, but as always, it’s your choice.

Anyone have any thoughts on the topic?

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