My name is Dan, and I am a peanut addict. I love peanuts. I crave peanuts. I am addicted to peanuts, or at least I used to be. I gave them up almost a year ago, and do not eat them anymore. That’s why I have waited until now to write about them. I can now do it safely since I am no longer tempted by them. Why is another story, and the subject of another column – or even a book, for someone who has a better understanding of the very complex questions of why we eat and what we eat. But for this humble blogger, I will just tell you why I have concluded that I should not eat peanuts.
For the irregular reader of this column (published every Wednesday and Saturday), I am a 72 year old, 27-year type 2 diabetic who eats a Very Low Carb Ketogenic Diet (VLCKD) for weight loss and blood glucose control. I am Carbohydrate Intolerant. I treat my broken glucose metabolism just with minimal oral diabetes medications. I do not want to use injectables like insulin or incretin memetics. I also eat this way because I can do it without hunger, obtain very good improvement in blood pressure (with weight loss), and greatly improved blood lipids, especially HDL and triglycerides.
In the world of nutrition gurus that I follow, peanuts and other legumes are on many people’s lists of foods not to eat. I have been trying for years to stop eating them. So, now that my body is “happy” with the way I eat and what I eat, I finally decided to just do it – stop eating peanuts altogether, “cold turkey.” For convenience (mine) the page references that I provide here are all from a very good book that I recommend as a shelf reference in good Paleo nutrition principles and practices: “Perfect Health Diet” (Scribner 2012), by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. To be clear, I do not recommend this book for its approach to eating for full-blown Type 2 diabetics. They have, sadly, missed the mark there.
First of all, peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes. Peanuts grow in the ground, not in trees as with true nuts. The peanut plant grows above ground with a pea-like flower. The long flower stalk then bends to the ground and continues to grow. The mature fruit develops there into a legume pod, the peanut, containing 1 to 4 dry seeds. Other common above-ground legumes include soy beans (edamame), fava, kidney, pinto, garbanzo, and lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils, and unfortunately for those with a legume allergy, sweet peas and green beans. As a type 2 diabetic, with the exception of cooked young green beans, I avoid legumes, peas and sugary vegetables (corn, beets, and carrots).
Legumes are “almost grains” (pg 209),” just as dangerous as grains when eaten raw and still risky after cooking.” They are on the short list of “DO NOT EAT” foods (pg xix): grains and cereals, sugars, beans and peanuts, and Omega-6-rich vegetable seed oils (soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, and canola oil). That’s pretty “exclusive” company. It gets a grade of “F” (pg 172) in the list of “The Best Plant Food Energy Sources,” listed after wheat, corn and other grains.
But what’s the problem with legumes, you ask? The Jaminets say, “Many legumes are highly toxic in their raw state: raw kidney beans at 1% of diet can kill rats in two weeks.” (All the Jaminets’ references are on their Perfect Health Diet website.) “Legumes are toxicologically similar to grains. Like grains, they are eaten by herbivores and have developed toxins against mammals, including humans.” Plants can’t run away from grazing animals, so toxins are their defense system. Of course, ruminants then developed a way to circumvent the plant’s defense: the four-compartment stomach.
The Jaminets offer a “sample of known toxicity effects from legumes”: “1) leaky gut, bad digestion, diarrhea, bloating; 2) retarded body growth and shrinkage of organs; and 3) heart disease and tendon damage.” Leaky gut (demonstrated in rats) allowed bacteria and toxins to enter the body, block production of stomach acid and thus prevent proper digestion of proteins. In the gut, the kidney bean lectin PHA induced immature gut cells that were “easily exploited by diarrhea-inducing bacteria such as E. coli” (pg 210). “Feeding rats the alpha-amylase inhibitor found in kidney beans leads to extreme gut bloating,” which lead occasionally to a ruptured intestine.” It gets worse from there. Read Chapter 20.
“Many legume toxins can be destroyed with overnight soaking and thorough cooking, but not all.” “Traditional cuisines that make heavy use of legumes, such as Indian cuisine, used very long cooking times as well as lengthy detoxification methods – overnight soaking, sprouting, and fermentation. Even with such methods, not all toxins are removed. But at the hasty pace of modern lives, few people soak their beans overnight or cook them for hours. It may be no coincidence that with India’s modernization, its rates of diabetes and obesity have soared.” (pg 212).
“Peanut and soybean allergies are among the most common allergies” (pg 212). And “People with celiac disease who aren’t healed by removal of wheat often turn out to have antibodies to soybeans or other legumes and need to remove legumes from their diet as well.” “Significantly raised antibody titres were found frequently in the coeliac group, particularly those patients showing a suboptimal response to a gluten-free diet,” according to the Jaminet source cited.The Jaminets’ conclusion: “(W)e believe there is little reward and much risk to eating toxin-rich legumes such as beans and peanuts. The only legumes we eat are peas and green beans.” I concur, and I no longer eat peanuts.