Examining the Half Truths About Nuts

I follow the Livestrong blog, and one of the cover posts for today is a piece called Nuts: Diet-Friendly Nutrition Facts.

This one was actually pretty good. But like a lot of “conventional wisdom” surrounding diet and nutrition, there was a rather glaring half-truth that needs to be pointed out.

First of all, I really liked how the post started out:

While nuts were once thought of as a dieter’s high-fat nightmare, they are now viewed as a healthy component of any diet. From lowering cholesterol to protecting against heart disease and certain cancers, research continues to show that many health benefits can be obtained from eating nuts.

The author then went on to highlight the many benefits of nuts such as the cardioprotective effects of consuming the unsaturated fats contained therein. I automatically thought of walnuts, which are not only very heart healthy but also help preserve bone density.

So imagine my surprise when the first thing the author talked about was peanuts – which she herself admitted isn’t even a nut:

Although commonly thought of as a nut, peanuts are actually legumes and belong in the same family as the bean and pea. However, since they are nutritionally similar to nuts, they are often referred to as “groundnuts”. Peanuts actually contain more protein, fiber, and vitamin E than any other nut.

Not only are peanuts not nuts, but they’re actually quite unhealthy to humans. In addition to being a lethally toxic allergen to many people, peanuts also contain aflatoxins which have proven to be carcinogenic.

Bottom line, peanuts are not healthy sources of proteins and unsaturated fats.

The key is to recognize that the health, fitness, and endurance sports industries have a peculiar love affair with peanuts and peanut butter. This causes them to not only miscategorize these legumes as nuts but to also heavily promote them as healthy food products.

So any time you hear one of these “experts” talk about eating peanuts or peanut products, just remember to substitute walnuts instead. Your body will love you for it.

3 Comments

  1. Mike
    February 16, 2010

    Accurate and enlightening nutritional info; I always look forward to anything you post regarding nutrition. Gave up the so-called “healthy” peanut butter a LOOONG time ago. An inflammatory, arthrogenic, and potentially carcinogenic legume serve no purpose in my quest for optimal health.

    Interesting anecdote: About 8 years ago I responded to a 40 year old male in cardiac arrest while out running (I work as a paramedic). We successfully treated him, and he was admitted to ICU. A week later, I transferred him to another hospital; when questioning his diet, he stated peanut butter was “a staple” in his diet—all-natural peanut butter, not partially hydrogenated. he also trained regularly for marathons.

    His arthrogram showed 80+% blockage in 3 main coronary arteries.

    Peanut butter? “Genetics”? High carb diet? Hard to say for sure. But I can’t see peanut butter being totally innocent.

    • srhernan
      February 16, 2010

      Hi Mike. Thanks for the comment! That’s quite a compelling case against eating peanuts!

  2. diver dave
    February 16, 2010

    ? WHAT IN THE WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS IS A GONE-IN ON HERE ?
    WHAT ABOUT THE PEANUT BUTTER AND BACON BAGLES ? I HAVE YET TO DIE FROM THEM SO THEY MUST BE BOTH GOOD AND TASTEE FOR YOU TO EAT >>>>>>AND EAT AND EAT.


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