We all know the health benefits of peanuts (and most of us love the taste!), but what about the down-side?
How could raw peanuts possibly be unhealthy for you?
And should you eat raw peanuts?
The good thing about peanuts...
Peanuts are good for you, right?. As far as nuts go (and peanuts are actually a legume!), peanuts are an excellent source of protein. They are also provide fiber, certain vitamins/minerals, and fat. And they make really good peanut butter! But should you eat them raw?
Raw peanuts are not poisonous
Raw peanuts are not poisonous to eat. They are a crop that have to be dried, and the drying process is where contamination can occur. If peanuts are not dried correctly, they are prone to growing molds, particularly one called aflatoxin. Aflatoxin primarily affects the liver: chronic exposure can lead to cancer, hepatitis, or cirrhosis.
What does the government say?
The U.S. FDA does provide guidelines for its own peanut crops. However, Canada has stricter guidelines, and has been known to return shipments of U.S. peanuts that exceed their own safety requirements. Raw peanuts and raw peanut products from other countries may not be subject to such standards. Even if your favorite raw peanut butter is made in the U.S.A., the peanuts themselves may have come from another country.
So you still want to eat raw peanuts…
If you choose to eat raw peanuts or raw peanut products, ask a few questions: what country do the peanuts originate from? How fresh are they? Make sure to toss peanuts that are old, or look moldy, shriveled, or discolored. Don’t over-indulge in them. Long-term exposure increases the risk of ingesting toxic levels of aflatoxin. Keep in mind that children are more susceptible to aflatoxin than adults. Jungle and Valencia peanuts are apparently safer to eat than ‘regular’ peanuts, though I’ve not researched this. Also, stick with well-known, name brands.
Do I eat raw peanuts?
I do not advocate eating raw peanuts, and I don't eat them. The risks outweighs the benefits, especially when there are other raw nuts you could substitute for peanuts. Do your own research - you will read many articles that say raw peanuts are safe to eat, and other articles that say they are not. It’s up to you to make the right decision for yourself.