Eating peanuts is practically a national pastime. Americans eat about 120 million pounds of peanut butter every year, and grow so much that we’re exporting around 350,000 metric tons of it a year, according the USDA. The main benefits of eating peanuts are that they provide a cost-effective source of protein, fiber, and some trace minerals. We also have a lot of peanut flour uses, as it makes a high-protein smoothie addition, a great gluten-free thickener for soups and gravies, or can be reconstituted to make peanut butter.
Peanut benefits also include various peanut oil uses. This oil is used to make some medicines, and by some people to treat eczema, constipation, hair loss, and in baby care products. And of course none of this addresses the real benefit of eating peanuts: they taste wonderful. Despite the popularity of peanuts, however, there are some myths about them that continue to be believed. Read on to see if any of the facts you know about the peanut are actually myths:
Myth 1: Peanut Oil in Vaccinations Causes People to Develop a Peanut Allergy
First of all, peanut oil isn’t isn’t used in vaccines. Second of all, those ingredients that are potential allergens, such as gelatin, are present in such amazingly small quantities that it’s virtually impossible they could actually cause an allergy. For example, the emulsifier polysorbate 80 is used to stabilize some vaccines, and there’s a lot of worry about it causing infertility. The amount of polysorbate 80 in a vaccine is 50 micro grams, which is 50 millionths of one gram. One half a cup of most ice creams will give you about 170,000 micro grams of polysorbate 80, but no one is particularly worried about giving up ice cream in order to avoid infertility.
Myth 2: Other Nut Butters are Healthier Than Peanut Butter Because Peanut Butter Has Additives
Actually, it’s very easy to get peanut butter in whatever type you want it. If you want “natural” peanut butter with nothing but peanuts and salt, you can get that. If you want it with other seasonings and flavors, like chocolate, you can get that, too. But the main thing to bear in mind is that the FDA regulates what a company may label as “peanut butter.” It has to be at least 90% peanuts to get the label, and the only other ingredients permitted in the butter are salt, sweetener, and vegetable oils. No trans fats are allowed, and no non-food additives are in any peanut butter you might typically pick up off the shelf.
Myth 3: GMO Peanuts Could be Dangerous
They might be: if there were any GMO peanuts in America! There aren’t. In fact, peanuts are one of the crops least changed from its ancient ancestor crop: today’s peanuts are 99.9% identical to its ancient ancestor crop. We do use traditional plant breeding to produce strains of peanuts that grow better under certain conditions, but that’s nothing like changing a plant’s genetic makeup, which is what GMO means.
Myth 4: Peanuts Grow the Mold Aflatoxin, So it’s Safest to Avoid Them
There’s never actually been an outbreak of aflatoxin illness in American among human beings, and that’s precisely because peanut farms are very careful about how they grow, harvest, and process their crops. Additionally, every crop is carefully tested, and anything that doesn’t meed the USDA standard is not used for human consumption.
So there you have it: eating peanuts is good for you, safe, and tastes great, too.