Can You Eat Peanut Butter On The Paleo Diet?

As we all know there are certain foods that aren’t allowed on the Paleo diet.  One of these being peanut butter.  Yet I still find people asking is peanut butter Paleo?

Well for those who follow a strict Paleo diet the answer is no.  But for others enjoying this particular food on the odd occasion is fine.

Is Peanut Butter Paleo

The first thing you need to understand is that in fact peanut’s aren’t a nut, they are a legume.  This is the main reason why they do not appear on the Paleo diet food list.

This is why you may be wondering if you can eat peanut butter on the Paleo diet?

Unlike us or animals, plants cannot run away from their predators or frighten them off.  So to protect themselves they release certain compounds.  These compounds help to make them taste horrible or make it hard for us to eat them.  The kinds of compounds that you will find in peanuts include lectins, phytates, and saponins.  These can all cause problems for us when eaten.

When it comes to peanuts, the part of the plant we eat is, in fact, the seed.  It is this part of the plant that will contain the embryo that will help to grow more peanuts.  So, of course, it has been designed in such a way to prevent it from being digested.  It is designed to move through the body so it can then be deposited elsewhere. 

It is this part of the peanut that leads to health issues.  The seed actually contains chemicals that stop digestive enzymes from breaking it down.  In turn, this causes a chain reaction.  Your digestive system will produce more enzymes in the hope of being able to break the seed down.  But this simply doesn’t happen.  As a result of this, it leads to an overabundance of the enzymes in your stomach, that can lead to the lining of your gut being worn away.

Also, it can lead to a build-up of undigested food in your intestinal tract.  This helps to create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.  If the amount of bad bacteria in our stomach is allowed to grow so we may begin to suffer a variety of different health problems. 

Some of these problems may show up occasionally.  You could find yourself suffering from bloating or a build-up of gas in the intestines.  I’ve noticed if I eat too many I do feel bloated.  At other times it could lead to bowel movements becoming disrupted.  These can easily be dealt with, just simply by eliminating the peanuts from your diet.

However, there are other problems that could arise you may find much harder to cope with.  You may find yourself feeling depressed or anxious.  You may find it much harder to concentrate.  This is because the compounds listed below have an impact on how messages are relayed to your brain.  So it is important to remember what effects a poor digestive system can have on the mental aspects of your life.

So what’s the problem with the kinds of compounds that you’ll find in your beloved peanut butter?


You’ll find that raw peanuts contain high levels of this compound.  It forms part of the seeds and helps the leaves to grow when this plant sprouts.  We really have problems digesting this compound.  If your digestive system is compromised in anyway lectin can get into your bloodstream without any changes.   As our body is unable to digest it so our immune system goes into action.  It produces antibodies that will attack and destroy it.

If your digestive system is compromised in anyway lectin can get into your bloodstream without any changes.   As our body is unable to digest it so our immune system goes into action.  It produces antibodies that will attack and destroy it. 

This particular compound can also lead to damage to the wall lining your gut.  In turn, it can lead to other health problems from joint pain and fatigue to an allergic reaction.

The big problem with lectins is sometimes it is hard to recognize what adverse effect they are having on our body.  This is because the signs of these adverse effects are very subtle.


Like other legumes, peanuts contain phytic acid, that allows the plant to store phosphorus, that it needs to grow.  The levels of phytate to be found in peanuts does vary and can lead to some unwanted side effects after the peanuts have been eaten.

Paleo Diet Peanut Butter

Firstly, our bodies finding digesting this compound difficult.  This, in turn, prevents digestive enzymes in the stomach from carrying out their work.  As result, you’ll find that your stomach isn’t able to break down carbs or protein as easily.  If your diet contains lots of carbs you may find that you suffer from bloating and gas more frequently. 

However, including a few phytates in your diet shouldn’t cause any real problems.  Which is why I say eating some peanut butter occasionally is okay.   

Before you started to follow a Paleo diet I bet you loved spreading peanut butter on to a slice of bread.  I know my other half did. But what you may not realize that this combination can prove detrimental to your health, especially if grains were the mainstay of your diet. 

This is because phytates prevent you from absorbing other trace minerals to be found in the vegetables you eat.  The kinds we are talking about here are calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron.  All of which are essential in helping our bodies to function properly.


This is a group of chemical compounds that you’ll find in plants in abundance.  Just like the lectin above such cannot only irritate but damage your intestinal tract.  Even if the peanuts in the peanut butter have been cooked for a long time the saponin found in them can still cause problems for you.


The peanut is susceptible to fungus and mold.  There is one fungus in particular that can be found in peanuts.  This fungus is known as Aspergillus Flavus.  It produces a toxin known as aflatoxin and is about 20 times more carcinogenic than DDT.  The chemical that is often used in the production of pesticides.

But when cooked (roasted) then the levels of such a toxin in peanuts gets reduced.   Yet you need to be aware that nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, which are Paleo approved contain this toxin as well.

As well as the compounds above causing health issues the amount of fiber and fat in peanuts can lead to health problems arising.  The high levels of fat found in peanuts can lead to symptoms associated with IBS being triggered.   The same also goes for the amount of fiber found in this particular food. 

In Conclusion

As peanuts are a legume, not a nut they aren’t considered to be Paleo.  This is why when you ask is peanut butter on the Paleo diet, you will find out it isn’t.

For anyone who has digestive problems then eliminating this food from your diet is vital.  The same goes for people who suffer from autoimmune or inflammatory health problems.

But for those who love this particular food, you can still enjoy it sometimes.  Include it as an occasional treat or as a snack.  There are some great Paleo diet peanut butter recipes around that will allow you to make some tasty treats you can enjoy.

You could also have a go at trying to roast your own peanuts.  You can then have a go at trying to make your own peanut butter rather than buying it ready-made. 

The best way to roast peanuts is to place them in the oven following the steps below. 

Step 1 – Turn on oven to 350 F (180 C).

Step 2 – Now take the whole peanuts (in the shell or shelled) and place on a baking tray.

Step 3 – Place the tray in the oven and leave the peanuts to roast.  Leave in for 20 to 25 minutes if still in the shell and for 15 to 20 minutes if the shell is removed.

Step 4 – Now remove from oven and leave to cool before then placing them in jars to store for use later.

When it comes to storing home roasted peanuts make sure to keep them in airtight containers and store in a cool dry place.  This will help to ensure the quality of the peanuts you’ve roasted is maintained. 

Of course, you could always try roasting the peanuts in a microwave if you want.  But I prefer to do mine in the oven, as they retain a great deal more flavor.  If you roast them in a microwave you need to add water and also salt.  You may also find that they are a lot crisper compared to ones roasted in an oven.

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