I am wondering why, despite their high monounsaturated fat content, peanuts are being vilified by many who espouse a paleo diet? This food source is Cheap and a starving student needs food! Is it the Omega ratio again(6:3; preponderance in favour of 6--if so how can this be counter-acted if at all so as to include this item in the diet).
All foods have lectins, all of them. Someone like Cordain or Wolf was talking about specific lectins in legumes and now people seem to think lectins themselves are bad.
So the specific lectin in question here is peanut agglutinin (PNA) and in some studies it has shown to disturb the gut lining, perhaps leading to leaky gut. In a huge rarity, they have actually studied this in adult humans (Identification of intact peanut lectin in peripheral venous blood) and found this lectin can pass through the gut lining. Whether or not it leads to problems needs to be studied, but that's a red flag. The most worrying study so far is "Peanut lectin stimulates proliferation of colon cancer cells by interaction with glycosylated CD44v6 isoforms and consequential activation of c-Met and MAPK: functional implications for disease-associated glycosylation changes," but similar studies have found that red meat does the same, so we have to be careful when looking at studies that look at a chemically isolated constitute of a whole food.
Regardless, peanuts unfortunately contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids as PFW says. They also tend to have high levels of carcinogenic aflatoxins (from mold) and are often produced under highly unsanitary conditions that have led to several food poisoning outbreaks.
Depending on what source you read, peanuts can have between 0 omega-3 and some trivial amount of omega 3. The result is a 6:3 ratio of something like 30:1 (or worse). Most peanuts are on paleo avoid lists due this imbalance.
If you were to eat any substantial amount of peanuts in your diet, you'd be hard pressed to avoid excess PUFA and maintain a reasonable 6:3 balance.
Yes, peanuts, being a Legume and not a nut, are avoided because:
I recently stopped using nuts as a somewhat large source of calories. I was trying to gain muscle, so i was using nuts for extra calories. Now, i eat alot less nuts, and mostly macadamias, occasional walnuts/almonds like before. I noticed now, that in addition to not being as hungry all the time because of the starch/sugar in nuts, i have much less inflamed bowels, less "gas", better bowel movements, and less bloating. I also take O-3 capsule when i have nuts to even the odds.
I always heard that nuts are helpful when breaking a plateau, and i can definately agree with that now.
On a side note, Coconut is quite different, containing healthy MCT sat. fats. They burn rather quickly for energy, which is good in my case, and they have only about 1% omega 6 by volume, even lower than macadamias 3-4%
Potential aflotoxin contamination. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aflatoxin
Unless organic (which adds some additional risk of aflotoxin contamination), peanuts are usually grown in rotation with cotton, which is the crop with the highest pesticide use in the world. Some of these pesticides hang around for quite some time.
On the other hand, I don't freak out about small and occasional peanut exposure - no way am I telling the Thai restaurant to skip the peanuts on my salad! But I wouldn't risk them as a dietary mainstay to save cash. Have some sardines or canned salmon instead.
In addition to many of the comments above, here's why I quit eating peanuts and peanut butter:
If you buy conventionally grown peanuts they are treated with a really nasty pesticide (Karen above linked to it).
However, if you buy organic peanuts, they don't have the pesticide which means that they grow a really nasty mold that is linked to liver cancer. You need the nasty pesticide to get rid of the mold.
There's no real good reason to eat peanuts, they don't provide enough nutrients to counter balance the bad.
I am not entirely convinced that dietary elimination of legumes is well grounded. Besides being easy and regenerative foods to grow from a soil fertility standpoint, they generally have a low glycemic load and help moderate glucose spikes by slowing rates of sugar digestion. Furthermore, some legumes are considered anti-inflammatory despite large omega 6:3 ratios.
Does anyone use the site SELFNutritionData as a reference? Well, if you look up peanuts on this site, then you will find them listed as an anti-inflammatory food despite the high omega 6:3. I suppose this is because of its fat content? Nonetheless, this is a bit contradictory to my present understanding of the hormonal (prostaglandins) basis for inflammation and its dependence on omega intake. Moreover, a 2 tbsp serving has a 0 glycemic load. I am drawn to paleolithic eating for a number of reasons and one of which is skin health. With optimal skin health as a goal, I would strive to reduce inflammation, and minimize the glycemic load of my food. At the same time, I have to get enough calories to thrive. Therefore, as long as I am getting enough omega 3's to balance the peanuts, I don't see why this food is undesirable. Perhaps the type of fatty acids in peanuts promote acne vulgaris growth?
No comment on the lectin/legume stuff and overall Paleoness of them.
I only know why I can't eat them.
Peanuts, for me, are a really harsh gateway food to stuff I should not be eating. Peanuts, like potato chips, are nearly impossible for me to eat just a few. What usually happens is a few turns into a few turns into a whole container followed by a binge that can last for days. Just thinking about them now is making me hungry.
They taste great, I have no allergies and I especially love them covered in chocolate, but it's something I know I can't eat. Regardless of what the various Paleo Guru's say.
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