Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 May

How Bad is Peanut Butter, Really?

Man, you guys really love your peanut butter.

I get at least one email a week from a devoted reader of the blog who just can’t shake the desire (that feels like a need) to eat peanut butter on a regular basis. They’re on board with everything else. They’ve ditched grains and vegetable oils. They’re walking more and getting better sleep. They’re getting sun and eating more vegetables than ever before. They’ve switched to grass-fed beef (sometimes liver, too!) and wild-caught fish. They’ve even happily dumped all the other legumes, except for that persistent, palatable peanut. The more dedicated among them may be soaking, sprouting, roasting, and grinding their own peanuts into peanut butter, but they’re still eating peanut butter – a “forbidden” food on the Primal eating plan.

I’m talking questions like this:

Dear Mark,

I have been following MDA for about a year now and last I week I finally went primal.  So far I have not had any issues with giving up grains (no cravings), except I cannot shake my peanut butter addiction! I eat a small bowl full of peanut butter with banana slices for a snack and I know it is awful for me! I eat very healthy foods for the rest of the day (eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, meat and veggies for dinner) but the peanut butter is probably preventing progress! Help!


I don’t want people to feel deprived, nor do I enjoy stripping from them the ability to enjoy their favorite foods, but I also want people to make the best and healthiest food choices possible. To do that, we need to examine the evidence. We need to give peanut butter the rice and oat treatment. We need to figure out whether or not peanut butter is really all that bad. Let’s go, shall we?

First, The Good.

What’s good about peanut butter? Why would we ever want to eat it?

It’s tasty.

I’ll admit it: peanut butter is quite delicious. I’ve never much cared for actual peanuts – they were okay, but not something I sought out – but I’d always grab a spoon or dip a finger for some peanut butter.

It contains nutrients.

It’s food, so of course it has something to it. But what?

Peanut butter is a decent source of thiamin, niacin, folate, and magnesium. It’s actually fairly rich in polyphenols, particularly when roasted (which increases the coumaric acid content considerably). Peanuts also contain small amounts of CoQ10 and resveratrol, though I’d much rather get those from beef heart, sardines, and red wine, personally.

Now, The Bad.

Why should we avoid it? What’s not to like about peanut butter? I’m not even going to discuss the soybean oil and sugar-laden garbage that passes for peanut butter, because my readers definitely aren’t asking about that stuff. They’re doing natural butter with peanuts (and salt) as likely the only ingredient.

It generally contains aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring fungal toxins, or mycotoxins, produced by certain members of Aspergillus, a type of fungus found pretty much everywhere throughout the world. Aspergillus tends to colonize any monosaccharide and polysaccharide it comes across, as long as the conditions are right, but peanuts are particularly susceptible. Most crops are colonized after harvest and during storage, but since Aspergillus is found in the soil (among other places) and peanuts grow underground, peanut colonization often occurs well before harvest. The result is that peanuts are among the most contaminated crops, along with corn and cottonseed.

I wrote about the negative effects in a previous post, which I’ll sum up for you:

Aflatoxin, being a toxin, is metabolized by the liver. Large enough doses of aflatoxin are a liver carcinogen in high doses (it’s actually what T. Colin Campbell used to induce liver cancer in mice during his China Study crusade to indict animal protein). Early exposure and elevated bloods level of aflatoxin are associated with stunted growth in children.

Interestingly, it seems that the peanut butter-making process dramatically reduces the aflatoxin content of the initial peanuts, by around 89% (PDF). In the study, roasting at 160 degrees C reduced aflatoxin by 51%. Blanching, or skin removal, reduced it by 27%. Finally, grinding the peanuts into butter removed another 11% of the aflatoxin, probably because of the heat (not the actual grinding). So if you’re going to eat peanuts, stick with a good butter.

It contains peanut agglutinin.

As of now, the harmful effects of peanut agglutinin, a peanut lectin, are mostly speculative, but still compelling:

  • In isolated human colon cancer cells, peanut lectin is a mitogen, or growth-promoter. You generally don’t want cancer cells to divide and increase in number.
  • Altered glycosylation may be at the heart of inflammatory bowel disease-related cancers, like colon cancer.
  • Peanut agglutinin causes colon cancer cell proliferation via altered glycosylation, in an in vitro study.

That said, those are just in vitro studies. They don’t tell us what happens when peanuts are eaten. However, in real live human subjects who ate real peanuts, peanut agglutinin has been shown to make it through the gut lining to end up in the blood stream. That’s a little worrisome, don’t you think?

I want to reiterate, though: eating peanut butter has never been causally linked to the development of colon cancer. In fact, one epidemiological study found that frequent intake of peanuts and peanut products was linked to a lowered incidence of colorectal cancer in Taiwanese women.

It might contain a uniquely atherogenic oil. 

Yeah, peanut oil has a good amount of monounsaturated fat, about 46.8% of the total fatty acid content, which has earned it a solid reputation for heart health in the conventional health world. But it’s also got a significant amount of PUFAs, too. 33% of the total fat is omega-6 linoleic acid, with an essentially nonexistent omega-3 ALA content. You could say that about a lot of nuts, though, and I don’t think the PUFA content is the big determinant here. It doesn’t help, but it’s not a deal breaker on its own. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Peanut oil has favorable effects on standard lipid panels. LDL drops, total drops, total:HDL ratio drops. The jury is out on how much that all matters, but eating peanut oil will probably make your cardiologist happy. Awesome, right? Maybe, but peanut fat appears to be uniquely atherogenic despite the lipid effects. For decades, it’s been used by scientists to induce atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rats, rabbits, and primates. Some researchers think that peanut lectins, present in the oil, are the cause of the atherogenicity. Reduction of the lectin content of peanut oil, through “vigorous washing,” also reduces the atherosclerosis it causes (although not completely).

You know what else reduces the peanut lectin content? Not eating any peanut butter.

It’s a little too tasty.

There’s something about the combination of fat, salt, protein, and smooth scoopability of peanut butter that promotes overeating. I wasn’t able to bring up any concrete studies on the pro-bingeing effects of peanut butter in humans (though if you run a Google search for “peanut butter addiction,” you’ll get a bevy of testimonials from all sorts of people claiming to be addicted to the stuff), I believe it. And I bet obesity researchers who typically work with rodents would believe it, too, since peanut butter is often used in these studies as a high-reward, obesogenic comfort food that rats and mice will readily and consistently overeat.

Ultimately, to feverishly scoop in a ravenous frenzy or not to feverishly scoop in a ravenous frenzy is a choice you have to make. I wouldn’t recommend eating peanut butter very regularly, and I know I won’t for the reasons mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. The inclusion – or exclusion – of peanut butter (or peanuts in general) will not make or break your Primal cred. There are a lot of things you want to have under control before obsessing over peanut butter, like grains, omega-6 oils, sleep, exercise, play, daily low level activity level, quality of meat, etc. You get those under control and then start thinking about some peanut butter as a treat every now and then, if ever.

As I see it, the easy answer is to just not eat it, because I don’t see anything at which it particularly excels (besides inducing people to eat the entire jar in a single sitting). You can get your polyphenols and your minerals from fruits and vegetables, your monounsaturated fat from meat, olive oilmac nuts, and avocados, and your smooth pulverized salty nutty fix from almond butter, mac nut butter, coconut butter, or any other nut butter – without the peanut lectin, the weirdly atherogenic fat, the aflatoxin load, or the insatiable desire to eat more and more and more until it’s all gone and your forearm is sticky.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say: I don’t have a peanut butter habit.

Anyway, let’s hear from you guys. Do you eat peanut butter? Are you addicted? Are you able to stop with just a bite or two? And most importantly, has your peanut butter habit negatively affected your results? Let me know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I used to be addicted to peanut butter but now a tablespoon of almond butter once in awhile does the trick for me!

    After eating almond butter for several months peanut butter tastes horrible. It is too sweet and I can literally taste the chemicals in it.

    Try almond butter!!

    Mel wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I do eat some almond butter. When I buy it, I think Hey! That’s good! Half way through the jar, I bored and eventually throw the jar away. It is not peanut butter.

      Harry Mossman wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • thanks for such thorough breakdown of peanut butter!

        i used to love it on toasted bagel. as a kid i used to blend my own peanut butter smoothie (peanuts butter + milk + sometimes banana)

        after i switched my diet, i did try almond butter. bleh, i just dont’ care for it. not the same. so i also threw away 2/3 of the whole jar.

        i much prefer dry roasted almonds (or other nuts) to the butter. for peanuts, it’s the opposite. go figure!

        i also tried other nut butter including coconut butter. also ended up throwing away most of the jars. coconut butter is simply too sweet.

        so peanut butter just becomes my 10% “proud & intelligent” cheat. but i don’t stock it at home.

        i’m glad that peanut butter does not seem the worst cheat.



        pam wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • +1 About the ‘chemical’ taste of peanut butter. It just tastes too processed to me. I’ve finally converted my kids to almond butter, but only “Barney Butter” brand and it still tastes awfully processed to me… too smooth, too sweet, too much like a bad for you thing!

      Allison wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • Almond butter often tastes rancid to me. At least the maranatha brand.
        I don’t know why you think peanut butter tastes like chemicals. If you buy organic and natural peanut butter, it just tastes like peanut.
        Also, if we go by your logic of excluding foods that taste too sweet, too smooth, too much like a bad think for you, then we should throw out sweet cream butter.
        Butter and nut butter probably go through the same level of processing, so one is not ‘better’ because it is less processed.

        na wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • I also think Maranatha almond butter tastes rancid. In fact, for years I thought I hated almond butter because of that. Now I make my own almond butter at home in the food processor and it’s delicious! Alittle too delicious…

          Elle wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • try justin’s almond butter. it’s perfect.

          David Cole wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • I also like Justin’s almond butter, and it comes in little 2T packets for automatic portion control.

          Abbie wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • Yes! I recently bought my first jar of Maranatha no-stir almond butter (the one with palm oil in it) and the scent and flavor made me think it was rancid. The only other kind I’ve eaten is from Trader Joe’s. It didn’t contain palm oil, and I thought it tasted good. But I do still miss peanut butter a little.

          Brandon wrote on May 18th, 2012
        • I’ve had the same problem with Maranatha brand. I prefer Trader Joe’s. I must admit to being a peanut butter fan, but this has become a great substitute:

          1-2 TB of almond butter.
          1 TB of Kerrygold butter.
          1 packet of stevia – I have also tried a small amount of honey (raw, local), which I prefer. Still deciding on this one…
          Vanilla extract
          Lightly toasted walnuts (I buy raw and just quick toast them myself)

          Blend it all together with a fork. Put it in the fridge to set up. Enjoy.

          Lance wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • Taste is a very individual thing. Cilantro tastes like heaven to some people. To others it tastes like dirty socks or underwear.

      I buy organic peanut butter spread, so labeled because it has palm oil. I just tasted some. To me, it isn’t sweet. And I have thoroughly lost my sweet tooth. No chemical taste, which there should not be if it’s organic. Different strokes.

      Harry Mossman wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • I converted or organic peanutbutter a few years ago and it is in no way sweet! Just salt and peanuts!

        But after going Primal I gave it up and have not missed it once.

        Nicole wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • mmm… how do these people know what dirty socks and undies taste like?

        Sarah wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • hahahahaha oh!my side hurts!

          Nan wrote on May 18th, 2012
        • I am one of those people who think cilantro tastes bad but it’s not a dirty socks & undies thing (have you smelled those? I imagine the taste is the same). I think it’s a soapy taste. I still use in when I’m cooking but I don’t use near as much as any recipe calls for and I’d never garnish with it.

          Sheila Toomey wrote on June 7th, 2013
        • Haha! I think it’s all too easy to imagine what icky things would taste like.

          But the first time I tried cilantro, I thought “Yuck, soap!”
          The second time, “hmmmm, maybe…”
          The third (& ever after) “YUMMM!!! MORE!!!” Now I truly crave the flavor, & guacamole with no cilantro is a sad, sad thing.

          I had the same reaction to chicken livers & green smoothies ( not together, mind you!). I think my body’s needs might be overriding my taste buds, but who knows… Just saying, don’t give up after one try.

          Paleo-curious wrote on June 7th, 2013
        • YEAH RIGHT !

          h wrote on June 19th, 2013
      • I low carb, and haven’t even thought about peanut butter in years, although I like almond butter, as long as the almonds have been roasted first. As for cilantro, it tastes like soap to me. I want to like it, but I just can’t get past that flavor. It always ruins a yummy fresh bowl of pico de gallo, IMO. :)

        Kelle wrote on May 20th, 2012
      • Why does it need palm oil? Peanuts already contain their own oil. Just because it says organic don’t think it’s automatically OK. I thought palm oil was nasty stuff.

        Raff wrote on March 3rd, 2013
        • Palm oil is usually added for the same reason that Hydrogenated oils are added to commercial peanut butter–to keep it from separating.

          Moses wrote on June 8th, 2015
    • I just purchased fig butter from Trader Joes without looking at the label. I rarely do that. I am not sure why I purchased fig butter, considering I own an unopened jar of almond butter that has been lounging on my lazy susan.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • Nut butters and fruit butters are two completely different things. I should know, I do my own preserving :-)
        Nut butters are fruits cooked with sugar for a long time into a smooth puree. They taste nothing like nut butters. I would liken the taste of fruit butter to jam.

        na wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • I did the same thing! I bought the fig butter from TJ’s thinking it would be a good substitute for my Yiayia’s delicious fig preserves. Negative. My opened, uneaten jar of the fig butter is still in the fridge. I also intensely dislike almond butter, but I could eat an entire jar of PB in one sitting, so I avoid it entirely.

        Maryanne wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • just starting on the paleo thing for a week or three, drove my wife a little nuts until we kind of looked at each other and said we have been doing this mostly for ever, yep giving up pasta, breads etc has hurt a bit, but still confused on the whole peanut thing. We eat maybe 1-2 tablespoons unsalted blanched a few times a week and less more and more any problems?

      tobias wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • If you can taste the chemicals, may I ask if you’re eating organic peanut butter?

      I appreciate the analysis and breakdown, and I understand why peanut butter doesn’t fit your philosophy of eating what you call ‘primal’, but isn’t it a bit ridiculous to conclude that something is ‘too tasty’?

      Admittedly, it’s my wife that’s the nutrition expert, but speaking personally, if people were replacing what they normally snack on with peanut butter, I think they’d be making progress.

      As someone who enjoys peanut butter, I don’t believe it to be something that’s problematic in my diet.

      Armen wrote on May 18th, 2012
    • Yup, almond butter is a great substitute. I think I’m actually addicted to it!

      Steve wrote on May 18th, 2012
    • PB2 powdered peanut butter (amazon) is peanut butter dehydrated with all the oil pressed out.Just add water and you have peanut butter without all the oil and it’s delicious.

      ed wrote on October 31st, 2012
    • I am working on gaining weight as I have been very thin.

      is eating 6 tbsp a day of peanut butter too much? I need plenty of fats. Does this sound appropriate on a 2300 calorie diet? What other fats would be good?

      andrea noteboom wrote on August 30th, 2014
    • What chemicals do you taste? If it’s all natural organic peanut butter from valencia peanuts, there aren’t chemicals in it?

      Claudia wrote on March 11th, 2015
  2. The way I used to devour Peanut butter is how I know eat almond butter. It takes a little getting used to but it will fill the void 😀

    Merky wrote on May 17th, 2012
  3. I like the taste of peanut butter, but if it’s not around, I don’t crave it. OTOH, my wife would rebel against any diet that denied her access to peanut butter.

    For me, almond butter is a good substitute, but even then, I’d just as soon toss a handful into the blender to add flavor to a protein shake.

    Howard wrote on May 17th, 2012
  4. Used to love peanut butter and jam sandwiches, but as of going relatively primal/paleo haven’t touched the stuff – even tho’ there’s still la jar lurking around the house. So short answer: don’t have any need for the stuff.

    Cody wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Cody, you should definitely try this next-best thing to PB&Js! It’s paleo comfort food in a bowl.

      Put 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh organic blueberries in a bowl and top with 2 Tbsp of almond butter. Microwave for 45-90 seconds (depending on your microwave settings and whether or not your blueberries were frozen). Take it out when the blueberries are heated thoroughly and mash it or mix it together.

      Oh my gosh, it’s to die for! If you like it and want to experiment, you can also try putting stuff like shredded coconut, cacao nibs, etc. in it. I think my favorite is just eating it plain. It’s a beautiful little breakfast addition, snack, or dessert.

      Kesha wrote on May 18th, 2012
      • Kesha, this sounds awesome thank you! I’m totally trying this later when I get home.. thanks!

        mars wrote on May 18th, 2012
        • Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it! I don’t see how anyone couldn’t! haha

          Kesha wrote on May 18th, 2012
      • I’m going to try that tonite – will let you know if I develop a new addiction :-)

        Cody wrote on May 18th, 2012
        • Great, Cody! Please do! I have to watch myself, or else I would eat this everyday for breakfast.

          Kesha wrote on May 18th, 2012
      • I really could have done without this bit of advice. :) Tried it last night with my homemade blueberry jam. Like I need another “crack snack”.

        Lori wrote on May 20th, 2012
  5. Yes, I do. Not nearly as much as I used to. Could I stop completely? Sure. Am I going to? No. Because I can restrict myself to a few tablespoons on pork rinds a couple times a week.

    I have seen “expert’s” opinion flip flop wildly during my 69 years. My grandfather told me that in his youth peanuts were for circus animals. Then George Washington Carver made it seem like they were the source of all life as we know it. In my youth, peanut butter was a staple food. Then the anti-fat people demonized it and the aflatoxin issue made it seem like eating it guaranteed death from cancer. Oh, but then the “experts” decided the monounsaturated fat made it a wonder food again. And then the paleo gurus denounced it as neolithic poison. Arrrrrrgh!!! Enough! I eat some peanut butter. Period. End of discussion.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I like this approach. As long as you don’t overeat it, I don’t think it’s going to kill you. It doesn’t actively do harm to you like grains do, so a spoonful once in a while, oh well. You can’t eliminate everything that’s dangerous, even from your diet.

      Alex wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • Exactly. I don’t really eat peanut butter anymore bc I love almond butter now, but, like you said, I don’t think a spoonful here and there is gonna cause any damage. Obviously I’m not for an “everything in moderation” diet, but peanut butter is one of those things that seems fine in minimal amounts. I’ve never been one to eat more than a spoonful at a time anyway.

        Chrissy wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Agreed. I’m not seeing many clear negatives here, compared to Mark’s takedown of other foods. If people have a problem w/ overeating it, that’s a different kinda problem. (most foods are bad if not in moderation. after all, an all “X” diet isn’t good for you, no matter what X is)

      GeorgeT wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • This comment wins. :)

      elaine! wrote on September 12th, 2012
  6. “…or the insatiable desire to eat more and more and more until it’s all gone and your forearm is sticky.”

    Ha ha! That describes me with a dark chocolate bar, except for the sticky forearm part. Although, on occasion I do stain my clothes with wayward chocolate shavings. I can only bring a piece of chocolate to work, otherwise I eat the whole bar. And I have to take a little time between chocolate purchases–it helps me to pace myself better. I find that going without it in the house for a week substantially reduces my cravings. Not buying it is the key. Once it’s in the house, I eat it!

    Oh, yeah, this post was about peanut butter…I got sidetracked! I have never had peanut butter cravings, although I do like the taste better than almond butter. But almond butter works in a pinch. I usually just eat it with celery.

    Meesha wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I am exactly the same with chocolate! I can eat chocolate at any time of day, sometimes need it as dessert after breakfast. Definitely agree about trying not to buy it for a couple days to reduce the addiction. I try to eat 85-90% though so usually no more than 10 gs of sugar in the whole bar which I figure isn’t all that bad when I generally don’t eat any other sugar.

      Michelle wrote on May 17th, 2012
  7. Back in my vegan days, now happily far, far behind me, I was absolutely addicted to peanut butter and
    could eat a whole jar in one sitting – I liked it on everything: bananas, carrots, celery, dates, sandwiches, a spoon, etc. My body must have gotten burnt out on it and nowadays, though I love the way it
    smells, I have no desire to eat any, ever.

    Kathleen wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I feel that way about potatoes. In my dieting days I ate way too many baked potatoes (fat free) topped with salsa. I had no clue what I was doing to myself! It has been at least 10 years since I have had any desire to eat a baked white potato!

      Carrie S. wrote on May 17th, 2012
  8. It’s one of those foods that is such an addictive staple that people hope if they ask the question often enough they will get the answer they want. Just the fact that you want it that bad should be a red flag!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • LOL story of my life. That’s how I tell what’s not good for my body – foods that bring out the deranged monster in me, who has a black hole for a stomach. Peanut butter, dark choc topped with almond butter, in fact most fat-sugar combos -_-

      Jacq wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • how do you know if a craving is real need of your body or addiction?

      i have heard that we should “listen to our bodies”

      i seems i crave for texture & temperature than taste. i like peanut butter but i don’t crave it. i am also not much of chocolate) so i’m not sure what my body is telling me.


      pam wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • In Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions she says chocolate cravings are magnesium deficiencies. At least I can tell that for me.

        Cassie wrote on May 20th, 2012
  9. to my mind, peanut butter belongs in the same category as wheat, corn and soy products, in that they’re CHEAP and therefore have been super-promoted in their processed form. the same kind of people who say they can’t give up their bread — then feel better when they go without it for two weeks — then can’t stomach it when reintroduced, are probably JUST LIKE the peanut-butter addicts.

    tess wrote on May 17th, 2012
  10. I make these awesome peanut butter and chocolate candies (very simple: chocolate layer is coconut oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and honey/stevia; PB layer is PB, vanilla, salt and honey – overall these are very mildly sweet). I have a square (maybe 2 x 2″) 3-4 times a week. I top it with coconut or cocoa nibs. I very rarely will buy the peanut cookie Lara bar – it’s my very favorite but pretty sweet so it’s a treat (only ingredients are peanuts, dates and salt). When I make my nut butter brownies, I use a combo of PB and almond butter (I use much more AB than PB). That is it!! I buy a good quality, no additive PB and call it a day.

    Magda wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Please provide amounts, I would love to make this, I love peanut butter and will not give it up, just found our recently that it helps with my insomnia, if I eat some peanut butter before bed I sleep MUCH better so there has to be something good about it.

      Liz wrote on May 17th, 2012
  11. I love peanut butter. Before ditching grains, one of my favorite foods was peanut butter toast with bacon. Now I sometimes eat just bacon with peanut butter spread on top, or peanut butter on carrot sticks. I like almonds but almond butter just doesn’t do it for me. Sunflower seed butter, however, is a whole other animal! At this point I eat nut butter a few times a month and don’t fret about it.

    Sally wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I used to put peanut butter on bread, now I put it on 70% cocoa chocolate – six million times better than the store-bought “cups”. One serving a day of peanut butter is fine for me; the example Mark gave (the e-mailer) seems more psychological to me.

      It is not necessary to completely give up all foods of agriculture, just limit them, and make sure to get enough fruit, leaves, and animal fat & protein.

      Jeffrey of Troy wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • Me Too!!! Baby steps. I switced to organic natural peanut butter and dark chocolate. Now I dip the chocolate into a tbsp or two of pb. Perhaps I will make the switch to almond butter, which I also like, but not as much as peanut butter!!

        natalie wrote on May 18th, 2012
    • That’s awesome! Bacon and peanut butter are the best! Glad someone else found it, too!

      David Sullivan wrote on November 24th, 2012
  12. Thanks for this post Mark. I’m glad to hear that making it into peanut butter makes it less toxic, because my kids love it. On a side note, my four year old just asked me what the little avatars by the comments were. I said, “They’re Groks.” He said, “Oh, I want to be a Grok.” Awesome.

    rabbit_trail wrote on May 17th, 2012
  13. I too used to inhale peanut butter, but before I stumbled upon primal blueprint, I met almond butter. It was love at first scoop. Almond butter is so divine that I now have to be careful around it. I only buy it on occasion because I know how fast I will go through it. One thing that helps slow me down is making my own. It isn’t too much work is you have a decent food processor.

    Josh wrote on May 17th, 2012
  14. I do love peanut butter, but to be honest, I am just as happy with the occasional almond, cashew, or (mmmmm) macadamia butter.

    PaleoDruid wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I love peanut butter too. I’m not a real fan of almond butter but macadamia butter? NOM NOM NOM!!

      It’s been a few weeks since I’ve enjoyed peanut butter. Maybe I should take a spoonful…

      Primal Toad wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • “That spoon, that spoon, that spoomful” – “Spoonful” Jazz/Blues standard.

        I like the version by Cream.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • Howlin’ Wolf!

          MamaLovey wrote on May 17th, 2012
  15. I have made all my own nut butters for years (just really discovered and switched to primal about 5 mos ago). Now I generally only make mac nut butter (maybe with some almonds) so I have cut way down on the PB. But…I may have a small bite (maybe a small teaspoon) a few times a month. I don’t eat anything else in the legume, sugar or grain categories, so I don’t sweat this little indulgence. I love other nut butters, but there is just somethin’ bout PB….

    Paula wrote on May 17th, 2012
  16. CASHEW butter… enough said!!!

    penny wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • DITTO Cashew butter a small amount of agave nector on Celery. No better snack on earth.

      mike metcalfe wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Nuh-uh…macadamia butter! Almond butter’s the last thing my tinnitus needs.

      Wenchypoo wrote on May 17th, 2012
  17. I only eat too much peanut butter when there is a jar of Nutella in the house to go with it!

    Mike wrote on May 17th, 2012
  18. I grew up in Eastern Europe, so I tried peanut butter for the first time when I was in my mid-twenties and immigrated. I did not like it. The fact that the jar was rolling around my new husband’s fridge for months might have had something to do with it. Then, in my attempt to go on Anabolic diet and eat lots of fat I started eating PB and got easily addicted to fresh peanut butter and celery or GS apple combination. Now I don’t eat it. I don’t like almond butter that much, but I munch on it once in a while. My child loves PB, but gives almond butter a wide berth most of the time. So, we now only have almond butter for when I feel like having a cup of tea with a bit on the side.

    I think most people might have like it so much because it brings back childhood memories, no?

    leida wrote on May 17th, 2012
  19. I have not had a problem giving up the peanut butter, but my 6 year old son on the otherhand is a different story. Although I have found that Sunflower seed butter is a great substitute. Is is just as creamy as peanut butter and has that rich, sweet taste as well. Not sure how it racks up against almond butter, but it does come from a seed and not a legume…so I figure it has to be a better alternative. Mark what say you?

    Cody wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • you may already know this, but some commercial sun-butters have a ton of white sugar, just as an FYI…if that’s something you avoid.

      Karen wrote on May 17th, 2012
  20. Finally a TRUTH about peanut butter from YOU, a good source. Was having a similar debate yesterday with “metabolic healer” about peanut butter. Best NOT to eat it!

    NIck wrote on May 17th, 2012
  21. I love peanut butter to the point that I have to abstain completely or else I’ll end up eating 3000 calories of it in 20 seconds. When I was “SAD HEALTHY” I ate instant oatmeal with a banana and peanut butter mixed in and it was my favorite meal. After realizing that the oats and peanuts were screwing me up pretty bad, I had to cut them out all together

    Carlos Morales wrote on May 17th, 2012
  22. I’ve got to agree with the last point…
    peanut butter has always been one of my favorite foods, and I indulge in it once in a awhile… which has been a problem.

    I’ve sat down to have a spoonful (with a little dark chocolate, the world’s greatest food combo), and found myself eating half the container. It’s so damned easy to over-consume… 1500 calories in a heartbeat.

    Ben wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • +1 to that! I sink deep into this dark choc + nut butter zone and when I finally become aware of my surroundings again, I have dark choc on my clothes, around my mouth.. argh#^&*

      Jacq wrote on May 17th, 2012
  23. I second the almond butter! I make my own in my champion juicer. It’s super fast, tasty & peanut butter just doesn’t even compare anymore :)

    Bethany wrote on May 17th, 2012
  24. Never liked peanut butter- stuck in my throat and made me gag. Every time I ate it. And don’t get me started about peanut butter and honey- the way the honey would kind of get hard next to the peanut butter and the bread— yuk! A poor food over all- the lazy man’s sandwich.

    Samantha Moore wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Peanut butter has always made me sick too!! I could feel it go through my entire digestive system as a lump of pain.

      christina wrote on May 17th, 2012
  25. Nice overview, Mark. I learn something new every time I read your posts.

    Scott wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I agree. Very good info. I like my PB, but when I REALLY think about it, it’s only cause I have read all over that it’s very good for you!Since reading about Paleo, I have been dreading the day that some1 would say that as it’s made from a legume,it’s a NO-NO. Damn! Will finish the 3 large jars I have in cupboard over the next few months and try not to buy it any longer(I’m sure I wont be longing for it, if it’s not in the house.)Here in South Africa there aren’t any commercial alternate nut butter distributors, tho’ I do remember a “farm stall” type shop out in the sticks where there’s lots of nut trees that had Almond & Cashew Nut butter, but were expensive.Add a 600km round-trip on top of that and you REALLY have to be a true-blue PALEO for that! :-)

      Paolo wrote on May 18th, 2012
  26. I questioned the peanut butter and paleo lifestyle, but plead ignornace. I can’t now. Thanks for the imformative post, Mark.

    i love a cocoa powder and peanut butter whey protein shake after doing my sprints saturday morning!

    My wife and I also like a small spoon of PB to help satisfying cravings when wanting something sweet/salty. def. not addicted, pretty easy to stop after a scoop…or sometimes two. don’t think it at all had a negative effect on us in way…that we can note.

    Might be time to kick the PB just like we did w/ milk and select other dairy products. tasty sure..but perhaps time to stick [or spoon] w/ almond and other nut spreads.

    Nic.A wrote on May 17th, 2012
  27. I dont miss peanut butter as much as I miss nutella 😉

    cTo wrote on May 17th, 2012
  28. I love MDA, and trust Mark a lot. But this sounds like confirmation bias. He’s starting from “peanuts are bad” and then there’s some maybes to “prove” it. even the toxin is reduced if roasted. I think the usual MDA advice on a food like this (with little clearly negative) would be “it’s OK in moderation.” Seems to me organic, well roasted, “just peanut” peanutbutter, as an occasional snack, is gonna be fine. As Mark reminds us, there’s no perfect food. There are plenty that are clearly worse. gotta say, this sounds like doesn’t sound that bad, if in moderation.

    GeorgeT wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I think it may have been Protein Power by Drs. Eades that said that organic PB is actually worse, because the non-organic stuff typically kills more of the aflatoxins.
      Given those concerns, as well as the lectin, I simply choose the occasional almond butter/celery stick combo instead.

      Jay wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Come to think of it, you do make a good point.

      na wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Could not agree more. Glad somebody pointed that out.

      Rebecca wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • i also have a problem that peanut butter is bad simply it taste “a little too good”.

      this sounds ascetic to me.

      by the same token, heavy cream, butter, coconut oil, chocolate & many “approved paleo snacks/desserts” all taste “a little too good”

      i just refuse to believe that one must eat bland food to be healthy. (food reward hypothesis)


      pam wrote on May 21st, 2012
    • agreed.

      jen wrote on September 10th, 2013
  29. Almond butter tastes bland compared to peanut butter…. AT FIRST. I found that I can’t even stand the flavor of peanut butter anymore now that I’m used to almond butter.

    zack wrote on May 17th, 2012
  30. I used to, and I miss it, not to mention the price. I eat cashew butter and almond butter now!

    Therese T. wrote on May 17th, 2012
  31. I use peanut butter to make a spicy peanut sauce to top our thai turkey burgers a couple of times a month. I also use it to make flourless peanut butter cookies if we are sharing dessert with non primal eaters. Other than that, it’s almond butter all the way!

    Sarah wrote on May 17th, 2012
  32. I’m really thankful that you wrote about this! I’ve been peanut butter free since I started the Paleo diet 6 months ago and it was a major help to my body to get off of it. I would eat it for dinner consistently and would turn up healthier meals for my pb and apples. (I am underweight and trying to gain muscle.)
    I’ve got a long way to go, but the peanut butter addiction is insidious and I would confirm that there is something to your argument. Like sugar- I just have to avoid it.
    Thanks for writing about the scientific evidence it makes more sense than ever!

    Reid wrote on May 17th, 2012
  33. I used to eat a few peanut butter sandwiches a week, but after going Primal I don’t really care for it anymore. I still lick the knife after I make a sandwich for my son (habit) but it’s not very tasty. Too sugary and weird. I actually prefer almond butter now. Amazing how your tastes change when you change the way you eat.

    Shannon wrote on May 17th, 2012
  34. By the way be weary of almond consumption (or in this case butter) due to phytic acid content.Mark has a related post about nuts and phytic acid you should definitely check out

    Vlasis wrote on May 17th, 2012
  35. I used to be all about the peanut butter, 24/7. Breakfast, lunch, dinner… it didn’t matter what time of day it was I HAD to incorporate peanut butter in some way.

    My need to constantly surround myself with it has diminished slightly since going Primal, and even a little more since I have incorporated Bulletproof Executive guidelines as well. However, I am no perfect human being and need a ‘vice’ to help me feel balanced. I have rejected pizza, cupcakes, candy, and all of those other things that I enjoyed on a regular basis not one year ago. What I won’t give up? A couple of tablespoons of Kraft Crunchy a week. I know, I know… between that and natural peanut butter is the worst offender. I’m transitioning slowly.

    Well, that was a rant… moral of the story – I still enjoy it, and I think always will. I no longer eat half a jar for dinner, so that’s progress. The idea of not eating it ever again stresses me out though, and isn’t the whole point of being Primal to worry less about food and exercise? I just have a little bit to keep me happy and that’s that.

    Jenn wrote on May 17th, 2012
  36. Oh, and one more thing – if anything this post has made me so hungry for peanut butter right now, haha! I wish I still had my office jar around… Thank god lunch is around the corner!

    Jenn wrote on May 17th, 2012
  37. I have to admit, I do eat peanut butter occasionally with celery sticks as a snack. I’ve cut down to doing this only about once or twice a week, but I guess I’d better cut it out even more… :(

    Anne wrote on May 17th, 2012
  38. One scoop of any butter – for me – leads to an empty jar in double time. It took me a long while to get off macadamia butter topped with cocoa nibs and cinnamon (and sometimes molasses thrown into the mix). Nut butters are my “gateway food”! Have a great weekend, everyone.

    Mark Cruden wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Goodness, that sounds amazing! I love cinnamon!

      Chrissy wrote on May 17th, 2012

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