Grapes have long been the gold standard source for the resveratrol. While it may not be a surprise that the potent antioxidant is also found in blueberries, mulberries and raspberries, you may be surprised to learn that peanuts are also loaded with resveratrol. Peanuts contain up to 1.28 milligrams per cup, equivalent to a glass of red wine.
Why would this bad news? Because there is reason to believe that unscrupulous manufacturers are relying on cheap peanut skins to boost the resveratrol content in their supplements. By doing so, they are adding a questionable ingredient that has serious nutritional drawbacks.
Peanut Skin Extract Found in Grape Seed Products
In 2015, Food Chemistry chemically profiled 21 commercial grape seed extract products. Nine of these products were found to contain peanut skin extract (PSE) and it was present at high levels in six of the samples. Overall, 15 of the 21 samples were of poor quality. This is frightening information if you are one of the millions of peanut allergy sufferers worldwide.
The Case Against Peanuts
A peanut is not a nut at all but a legume and is loaded with antinutrients and lectins. Lectins are notable because they interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vital minerals, nutrients and essential vitamins. They are digestive resistant and can negatively impact your gut’s epithelial cells. This can interfere with healthy gut flora, cause inflammation and spark an autoimmune response.
While lectins are found in countless foods ranging from grains, nightshade vegetables and potatoes, they are especially prevalent in legumes. The dangers posed by lectins can be mitigated if not eliminated with various heating techniques and cooking methods, but this does little to offset the threat posed by peanut allergies.
Peanut Allergies More Prevalent Than Ever
Peanuts pose an acute and immediate allergenic threat to a substantial portion of the population. Combined with the nutritional drawbacks, this is a major concern when they are used in place of grapes in a resveratrol supplement or as a source of this natural antioxidant.
The prevalence of peanut allergies has skyrocketed in recent decades. Between 1998 and 2008 the rate of peanut allergies in children has more than tripled. This raises questions about whether peanuts, even with their known antinutrient properties, are entirely responsible. Could the methods used to raise peanuts be responsible for such a large portion of the population physiologically rejecting this popular legume?
As a legume, peanuts are immersed in the soil and can come into direct contact with pesticides. To make matters worse, they are often grown in hot and humid conditions that can lead insect infestation, fungus growth and aflatoxins. These are carcinogenic and pose a serious threat, especially to children.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described aflatoxins as a well-recognized cause of liver cancer and warned that chronic exposure can cause of cascade of health problems.
The Pesticide Action Network’s Summary of the USDA’s pesticide program reported that piperonyl butoxide, a toxic pesticide ingredient, was present in over a quarter of peanut butter samples and the issues exist whenever peanuts are used as an ingredient in a consumable product.
Where Does Your Resveratrol Come From?
The combination of anti-nutrients, lectins, pesticide contamination and the widespread prevalence of peanut allergies make it a poor source for resveratrol. With the increased awareness of peanut allergies, it surprising that such an ingredient would appear as a contaminant with such frequency. If you are looking to increase your resveratrol intake, consider superior functional foods such as sour grapes, muscadine grapes and wild North American grapes.
The Journal of Medicinal Plant research found that unripe and sour grapes may provide additional benefits when compared to fully ripe grapes. A study on verjuice, a traditional beverage based on unripe grapes, showed great promise addressing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and total antioxidant capacity.
As always, the best functional foods grow in the wild or in an environment free of pesticides and cross contamination. Support only sustainable gathering that does not damage the fragile ecosystem or mineral rich soil.
A final note is that peanuts are not the only concern. Although grape skins have been the traditional source of resveratrol, many supplements are made from synthetic sources and Japanese knotweed. You may want to steer clear of these and make sure you read the label before purchasing any products that contain the inedible root polygonum cuspidatum.