I probably consumed several thousand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during my childhood. My mom only bought the natural kind with oil on top that required super-human strength for the initial stirring. It was like eating industrial strength putty. Upon leaving home, I vowed the solemn vow that no natural products would ever enter my life again. It was a “Gone With the Wind” moment, and it was with immense joy that I purchased my first jar of hydrogenated peanut butter.
Mother did know best. Sigh. But she didn’t know that a hijacker named Aspergillus flavus had invaded those peanuts and even though it was all-natural, it wasn’t all-good. Aspergillus is a fungus on 99% of all peanuts in the world. The amount on each peanut varies according to where it is grown, stored, and length of storage. Even if you try to plant your own in your back yard under perfect conditions, it will be there in the seed.
We have all heard of how deadly allergic some people are to peanuts. Well, actually they are allergic – highly allergic – to aspergillus and not the peanut. The fact is that all of us are allergic to it, just some more than others. Technically we are allergic to what it releases, a mycotoxin called aflatoxin B1. The liver is what suffers the most. Growers and those involved in the production of peanut products have been found to have higher rates of liver cancer than the average person.
Does a peanut butter sandwich equal certain liver cancer? Most likely not, but in a world where we are accosted by toxins, one more just might not be what your body needs.
As an alternative, give almond butter a try. I wish I had known long ago about how delicious it is. Nutritionally it is superior to peanut butter and best of all, my kids just love it. (And I think they might just keep eating it when they leave home!)