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Peanut butter: ‘wholesome’ comfort food that makes us sick

By Wendell Fowler

Do you spoon Skippy’s out of the jar? Introduced to the world at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, the peanut butter (PB) we spread on PBJ’s, apples and ants on a log, holds lofty position in the pantheon of American classics.

Sacred to America’s food culture, PB is a comfort food associated with happy childhood memories. Many of us grew up with a comic book in one hand and peanut butter with grape jelly on white bread in the other. Today, we live in an era of mounting truths revealing many “wholesome” foods we’ve grown to love aren’t so wholesome. Making us sick, actually.

It’s no coincidence Americans consume the most PB and have the world’s highest rates of heart disease and stroke. PB contains healthy omega-6 oils, but is deficient in omega-3 the American Heart Association says benefits the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease. Most people eat too many omega-6s, which peanut butter is loaded with, and too few omega-3s, which peanut butter completely lacks. That’s the problem.

It’s hard to overstate the negative effects of too much omega-6 fat. Excessive omega-6 in the American diet also promotes inflammation, IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

You see, omega-6 is only beneficial for our temple if the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 is 3:1. In America, it’s more like 20 to 1, and that’s problematic. It’s OK to eat clean PB for goodness sakes, but bridge this gap with an omega-3 supplement. Potato and corn chips, candy bars, bakery goods, salad dressings and fast foods are loaded with refined omega 6 oils: grape seed, sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed oils, shortening and margarine.

Freshly extruded PB from whole food grocery grinders can be healthy, but jar brands add salt, sugar, cottonseed, canola and hydrogenated oils/trans fats that raise LDL and lower HDL. Eating trans fats increases the risk of heart disease or stroke. Scientists and health professionals consider trans fats so dangerous they should be banned from the food supply. Peanuts contain lectins, sticky proteins that strip mucous from the small intestine and contribute to autoimmune diseases.

I don’t recommend pigging out on PB, especially jarred. It’s OK to eat occasionally in small amounts, but boost your omega 3 foods like flax, chia and hemp seeds, walnuts, cold water fish or up your supplement intake significantly. It’s about mindful balance.

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