Exploring natural nut butter

Nuts have always been a favorite food of mine. They’re a great, versatile snack that packs a lot of protein and omega 6 essential fatty acids. I think I get my fondness for mixed nuts from my dad. Every holiday we’d buy him a giant canister of nuts and he’d sit back in his recliner and snack out of the container like it was a bag of popcorn. 🙂

Lately I’ve been partial to packing unsalted nuts as a snack and dipping apples and celery in almond butter.

One of my favorite things at Whole Foods are the machines that let you grind your own nut butter. I wish every grocery store had these. There’s something wonderful about warm, freshly ground nut butter. I suppose it has the same appeal as freshly ground coffee. It’s so good because it’s fresh!

I took a picture of me grinding some almond butter (well, pushing a button and letting the machine grind it, I should say). 😉

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There are two other machines to the left of this one that grind cashews and peanuts too. I haven’t eaten many peanut products in the past month and a half. I’m still reading up on peanuts health advantages and disadvantages. From what I’ve read so far, peanuts seem to be okay in moderation. As long as you eat peanuts that are unsalted and not roasted in vegetable oils, they seem fine. But there are some factors to consider:

Before distribution, raw peanuts can be contaminated with the mold Aspergillus flavus, which produces a cancer-causing substance called aflatoxin. Every truckload of peanuts is supposed to be checked for the mold and if higher than normal levels are found, the truckload is rejected. The mold level is also reduced through the peanut cooking process. Almonds are also at risk for being contaminated by the mold. As long as the nuts are cooked and handled properly, I don’t feel the mold poses a huge threat though.

The other downside to peanuts is that they contain a lectin called agglutinin which may disturb the stomach lining and wear it down overtime. This is bad because it can contribute to “leaky gut syndrome” in which food passes through the stomach lining into the blood stream and cause issues with allergies, inflammation, etc…

The thing is, many foods contain lectins. Legumes, like peanuts, happen to be high in lectins and that is why Paleo likes to cut them out.

There’s so much to know about the foods we consume. It’s overwhelming, but fascinating at the same time, to read the facts and weigh your options to make healthy decisions.

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