Peanuts, or groundnuts, are a staple in the United States. They are present in almost every food item ranging from ice cream to granola bars. Even peanut butter and peanut oil are much loved. After all, nothing beats a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Yet, like all good things, peanuts should be eaten in moderation. Having too much can have harmful side effects. So before you grab another bag of peanuts, check out these 3 side effects of overconsumption.
1. Weight Gain
Peanuts are known for their healthy unsaturated fats, which help control cholesterol levels. This doesn’t mean you should go crazy, though. While most of the fats are healthy, there’s still a small amount of saturated fat. For example, 2 tbsps of smooth peanut butter give you 3 grams, or 24 percent, of your daily requirement.
You get 166 Cal from 1 oz of peanuts, or 28 to 30 peanuts. In a well-balanced diet, these numbers aren’t bad. But if you eat too many or have a high-caloric diet, peanuts will pack on the calories, leading to weight gain.
The best way to enjoy peanuts is to keep things diverse. Pair them with low-calorie foods like fruits and salads. Opt for peanuts that don’t have added flavor or salt.
2. Risk Of Fungal And Bacterial Infection
Peanuts could get easily contaminated. A fungus known as Aspergillus flavus could develop in peanuts, making them toxic. The fungus produces aflatoxin, a toxin that can lead to liver cancer. Look out for any discoloration in peanuts; if they are sort of green or yellow, don’t eat them. And that’s not all.
Peanuts are also susceptible to salmonella poisoning. Even if they are grown organically and not loaded with pesticides, peanuts have a high contamination risk. So, make sure to eat them fresh. A healthier option is to do partial roasting and blanching. This eliminates the fungus and aflatoxin production.
3. Poor Bone Health
Did you know that peanuts can help your bones? Just 1 oz has 100 mg of phosphorus, a mineral that helps bind calcium in bones. Ideally, you should limit your phosphorus intake to 900 mg a day. It is unlikely that you will eat 9 ounces of peanuts a day, but do keep in mind that foods like beef liver, instant pudding, and boxed macaroni and cheese are rich sources. If you have an existing kidney problem, you are more at risk of phosphorus accumulation.
Excess phosphorus in the blood leads to weak bones and calcium deposits in blood vessels or organs. Symptoms are weakness, itchiness, pain in the joints and bones, and red eyes.
Another side effect of peanut, and most often not linked to overconsumption, is allergies. According to the Food and Drug Administration, peanuts are among the top 8 food allergens. Kids are more prone to peanut allergies and only about 20% of children outgrow the allergy.
Severity can range from mild to deadly, so it’s important to be careful. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, rashes, coughing, swelling, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and breathing difficulty. A combination of these symptoms can occur at once.
If you experience these effects of a peanut allergy, take an antihistamine immediately. Drinking cold water may help relieve mouth swelling. The symptoms should eventually subside.
And if it gets worse? Consult a doctor immediately. Mild symptoms can easily progress to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
It’s possible to enjoy peanuts without dealing with unpleasant side effects. Eat them in moderation, just like everything else! But if you’re allergic, play it safe and always check food packaging. Don’t hesitate to double check at restaurants, too.