Peanut butter is in the news for all the wrong reasons right now and it's sending people to their pantries to check their jars. If yours is made of plastic, you and your family could be ingesting a host of toxins – here’s what you need to know.
The plastic in your peanut butter jar actually leaches into the product itself, often as a result of the heating and production processes. To put it simply, it means we’re eating plastic. Not so appetising, right? But there are greater health risks associated with this contamination.
The problem with eating plastic.
Ingesting these plastics can wreak havoc on our gut health, immune system and hormones. One type of plastic found in some peanut butter jars includes phthalates, which are used to increase the flexibility of the container. These inflammatory chemicals have been shown to negatively affect our endocrine system, and long-term exposure can lead to issues with fertility, child development and reproductive function, according to studies. Phthalates have been detected not only in peanut butter, but other processed goods, premade meals, meat and breads and fast food. If it’s wrapped in plastic, chances are you’ll be eating some of that plastic.
The biggest driver of our consumption of these plastics stems from the production process – peanut butter is required to be heated for food safety reasons, which then exposes the plastics in the jars to high temperatures. When mixed in with the natural oils of peanut butter, this means even greater amounts of plastic will leach into – and bond to – the food itself.
So, the peanut butter itself is not toxic?
Rest assured, peanut butter lovers, your favourite spread is not toxic in and of itself – though the unprocessed stuff may contain aflatoxins, a type of fungus that can cause nausea, abdominal pain and convulsions. Luckily, the stuff you’ll find on the supermarket shelves has been processed and is safe to eat.
Plus, peanut butter happens to host a variety of healthy fats, which are essential for absorbing vitamins A, D and E. These fats play an important role in satiety, brain health and heart health. This includes monounsaturated fats, which studies have found help balance blood sugars and prevent insulin resistance. They also keep us fuller for longer and curb sugar cravings.
Take a look at the impressive nutritional profile of just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter:
- Manganese: 29% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 13% of the RDI
- Potassium: 7% of the RDI
How to eat your peanut butter without eating plastic too.
If you’re keen to reap the heart-healthy benefits of peanut butter, you’re probably wondering how to get the nutritional boost without the dose of plastic. It is possible and the answer is simple: opt for glass jars over plastic jars.
Glass jars are also recyclable and better for the planet than their plastic counterparts, so making the swap will help reduce the 8 trillion tonnes of plastic that pollute our oceans each year. Plus, you can reuse them for your own home projects – including indoor gardening.
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