With back to school on the brain (or maybe because I saw The Nut Job 2 for my son’s birthday over the weekend), I’m reminded of a sack lunch staple: The PB&J. Between the glutinous white bread and the sugar filled jelly, this classic sandwich is about as far from “Dr. Brown approved” as it gets. But what about the peanut butter? Nuts are healthy, right? Well, it turns out it’s not as cut and dry as it may seem.
Peanuts are NOT actually nuts at all!
Despite the obvious misnomer, peanuts are a legume not a nut. By definition, nuts grow on trees. Peanuts, on the other hand, don’t. They grow in the ground often in moist places. Because of this wet environment, peanuts are commonly contaminated with mold which can cause intestinal irritation among other problems.1 For this reason, peanuts are NOT Dr. Brown approved.
(Side note: They are often not school approved either due to the increasing number of children with anaphylactic allergies to them.)
So are other nuts healthy?
A few nuts such as cashews and pistachios are also known to have higher amounts of mold. So for certain people, especially those dealing with yeast overgrowth, it might be best to avoid these as well until the yeast problem is under control.2 But generally speaking, yes, nuts are a nutrient dense food, high in the essential Omega 6 fatty acids. Remember as mentioned in a previous post, “Fats and Oils: What’s the Skinny,” however, that there is an ideal ratio of Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fats. The general rule to live by is to try and eat more omega 3’s than omega 6’s and more omega 6’s than omega 9’s.
On a different note, nuts also contain phytic acid which can disrupt mineral absorption as well as enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the function of important digestive enzymes.3 So with nuts, as with most foods, moderation really is key.
Crunchy or creamy?
According to Dr. Brown, whole nuts can irritate the intestinal tract and disrupt the digestive process quite significantly due to their hard texture. So therefore, he recommends to opt for nut butters instead of eating nuts whole. Baking with nut meal is also ok since the hard texture is broken down to make a nice soft flour.
Another way to soften nuts is to soak them overnight in salt water. Many health “nuts” (ha, pun intended) rave about the benefits of soaking and sprouting in order to neutralize the phytates. So if whole nuts are a go-to must have snack for you, this may be something you want to research and consider.4
Staples for the pantry
A school approved alternative:
A must have:
My personal favorite:
Hopefully this clears some things up as to the role of nuts in the Dr. Brown Diet. And if you have picky kiddos that refuse to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I pray these alternative suggestions will help you get them going in the right direction!
Happy Back-to-School Days,