|Photos via Flickr by Stacy Spensley and Daniella Segura|
Peanuts are toxic. You're probably getting a visual of a science lab with oozing green stuff and a sign reading "hazardous waste." Well, not quite like that ... but sort of.
Peanuts which actually aren't nuts at all, but legumes, contain aflatoxin which is a carcinogenic mold that occurs before they're harvested. Aflatoxins are bad because they been linked to liver cancer. The liver metabolizes all toxins that are present in the body. Since the liver is our main fat burning organ (hello, getting rid of those unwanted pounds!), we don't want to overtax it unnecessarily. Instead we want it to work as efficiently as possible.
It should be noted that aflatoxins are also present in corn, some grains, soybeans and tree nuts such as walnuts and pecans.
If you're looking to improve your diet, I would suggest almond butter as your go-to source for a healthy nut butter. Now, if you have peanut butter on occasion, that's less risky than having it all of the time of course (for those who just love peanut butter).
Aflatoxin aside, almond butter is just better anyway. It has more vitamin E and iron. It's also a better source of omega-3 fatty acids -- which is what you want for heart health, reduced inflammation in blood vessels and joints, reduced depression and prenatal health to name a few.
If you find yourself standing in front of the nut butters section way longer than you intended, reading and re-reading labels, trying to make a decision ... decide on almond butter. And if you really want to step it up, opt for raw almond butter -- it's less processed and therefore better for you.