Question from a patient: I occasionally eat “Name Brand” peanuts which are cooked in cottonseed oil. I feel very nervous now about how this will effect my health.
You are right to be concerned about eating processed packaged peanuts. Firstly, because they include unhealthy ingredients, additives and preservatives, and secondly because the peanuts themselves have unhealthy components. As we will discuss, peanuts cause inflammation that are at the root of disease.
Packaged peanuts are a leading sales item in the North American food industry. There is a wide line of snacks and a variety of peanut mixes (alone or combined with other nuts) that are some of the most popular products out there. If you check the labels carefully, you will find that different products from different companies will contain different ingredients. Some will contain GMO cottonseed oil while others won’t. In some cases, the labels do not even tell you the entire list of the ingredients.
The dangers of cottonseed oil are multiple. Firstly, cottonseeds are in the top 7 most common genetically modified foods (GMO’s) in North America. Therefore, you have a very high probability of buying products containing GMO cottonseeds oils. Consumption of GMOs has been linked with a variety of medical issues including bleeding, digestive problems, allergies, asthma, cancer, fertility issues and even death in animals. GMO’s create inflammation in multiple organs and tissues. Even if the cottonseed oil were not genetically modified, it would still not be a healthy choice because of it’s high content of saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids that are pro-inflammatory. Much healthier choices include olive oil, almond oil and avocado oils which contain more omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids.
Peanuts can also cause inflammation by themselves because many people are allergic to them without even knowing it. Sometimes the allergy symptoms to peanuts are mild and go unnoticed, yet ingestion of these foods can cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Like other nuts, peanuts can also carry two molds called Aspergillus Flavus and Aspergillus Parasiticus that had been linked not only with inflammation but with cancer as well.
Peanuts are considered an inflammatory food because of the HIGH ratio between Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats. Omega 6 fats are VERY inflammatory. Peanuts cause inflammation which is at the core root of all diseases. Therefore it is important to avoid and limit anything that is pro-inflammatory. Note:
- Sunflower: total fat 7.6 grams; Omega 6: 5.03 g; Omega 3: 0.01 g; Ratio 503
- Peanut: total fat 9.6 grams; Omega 6: 2.59 g; Omega 3: 0.01 g; Ratio 259
- Cashew: total fat 7.9 grams; Omega 6: 1.31 g; Omega 3: 0.03 g; Ratio 44
- Almond: total fat 9.2 grams; Omega 6: 1.86 g; Omega 3: 0.07 g; Ratio 27
A healthier alternative to peanuts are raw, unsalted cashews, almonds or walnuts because of their high content of anti-inflammatory omega 3 essential fatty acids. Instead of peanut butter, use almond butter or cashew butter.
Stay away from cottonseed oil which sometimes is listed on the labels, while other times is masked as “mixed vegetable oils”. Similarly dangerous ingredients such as MSG (Monosodium glutamate) are masked under the words “spice” on the labels. As a general rule, the closer a food is to its original, natural form, the better it is for you. Replace peanuts with walnuts or cashews as much as possible and do not eat more than a handful of nuts per day because they do contain a high calorie count.