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Are Raw Peanuts Dangerous

When changing to a raw food diet, you may wonder, "Are raw peanuts dangerous?" There are many myths surrounding raw peanuts and raw peanut butter. Both are usually safe but do have the potential of posing health risks.

Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts. Most raw nuts are quite safe to eat. Raw peanuts themselves are not toxic and are safe to eat. However, they can be contaminated with a mold called Aspergillus flavus which produces a chemical called aflatoxin, a potential carcinogen that can cause health problems in people and animals.

Fortunately, aflatoxin is one of the most studied toxins in the world. Cornell University has an extensive amount of information devoted to aflatoxin on its website, and many other reputable universities and scientific organizations also freely share information about aflatoxin.

Peanuts grow underground, and when they're harvested, they may be contaminated with Aspergillus flavus. There are other strains of molds now identified as potential creators of aflatoxin. As part of their life cycle, molds produce and excrete various substances, and these strains excrete aflatoxin. The chemical remains on the raw peanuts after harvesting and may then be consumed by people or animals. If the infected peanuts are made into a product such as raw peanut butter, the aflatoxin also becomes part of the product.

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tests and monitors peanuts moving through production facilities nationwide. If the amount of aflatoxin is greater than 20 parts per billion, they order the peanuts destroyed. Amounts below that are considered reasonably safe.

Aflatoxin causes liver damage. If an animal is exposed to aflatoxin in great amounts or over a long period of time, it can cause liver failure and liver cancer. Processing peanuts through heating, roasting, boiling, or pasteurizing the peanut product can reduce the molds, which are killed by high heat, and thus reduce potential aflatoxin exposure. The USDA's monitoring program also reduces the likelihood aflatoxin creeps into your jar of peanut butter.

Raw, living-food diet followers need to exercise some care and caution when choosing raw nuts and legumes for consumption. Yes, raw peanuts can be consumed. Government regulation and monitoring reduces the likelihood toxins are in the bag of raw peanuts you just bought at the supermarket. However, like any monitoring program, it catches many problems but may also miss some. Anyone eating peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut products, whether raw or cooked, may take in a little aflatoxin. The point is not to be scared of eating raw peanuts or peanuts in general but to avoid long-term or high levels of exposure. Eating a handful of raw peanuts a few times a week probably won't expose your body to enough aflatoxin to cause ill effects; eating raw peanut butter three times a day for years may.

Be careful about buying peanut products from overseas sources, too. Some countries also have strict monitoring systems in place, but others may not. Cheaper imported products may not always be a good idea.

In general, the answer to the question "Are raw peanuts dangerous?" is no. They are not poisonous, and it is unlikely you'll get a huge amount of toxins from eating a handful. The smart raw, living-food diet adherent will eat a variety of raw nuts, seeds, and other plant foods and not rely upon one legume such as the peanut for protein.

Raw Cacao Side Effects and Benefits

Though little research has been done to prove the point, many people - especially those in the raw food world - believe raw cacao side effects can be extreme. According to raw cacao's opponents, the substance is harmfully addictive and can cause a variety of negative health effects. Proponents, on the other hand, say the benefits are many.

Raw cacao are the beans of the cacao tree, which grows indigenously in areas with a rainforest climate. Chocolate is the most popular and well-known byproduct of the cacao plant and is made by combining the beans with milk, sugar, and other ingredients that tone down the beans' strong, characteristically bitter taste.

Below are just a few of the theories circulating about the negative side effects of this raw food. If you are worried about the effects of raw cacao in your diet, it's a good idea to discuss your concerns with a medical or nutritional professional. He or she may have access to additional research or information that is helpful to share, especially for your own situation.


  • Cacao may be addictive, but there is little research on this possible side effect.
  • Much like coffee, raw cacao contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. Caffeine can negatively affect sleep and may affect your kidneys.
  • Cacao also contains theobromine, another stimulant. Together with caffeine, this compound can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, abnormal heart rhythm, and heartburn.
  • Some believe regular, long-term consumption of raw cacao may lead to a variety of health conditions, such as depression, mood swings, nightmares, and paranoia.
  • In addition, this is a raw food product, which means it can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria just like any other raw food.
  • Pregnant women should be very careful about consuming lots of raw cacao. Caffeine may be able to cross the placental barrier and may be associated with premature labor, miscarriage, and low birth rate.

Raw cacao opponents make a few additional claims:


  • Animals will not consume cacao unless lured with the addition of added sugar.
  • Groups native to the areas in which cacao grows have historically only used the cacao beans in rituals or for medicinal purposes. This food was not part of their daily diet.
  • Natives typically consume only the fruit of the plant, which offers the same benefits as that of the beans but has few harmful side effects.

Below are just a few examples of the purported benefits of raw cacao beans.


  • Raw cacao is naturally sugar-free. Unlike the chocolate you'd buy in the baking or candy aisles of your grocery store, raw cacao contains no sugar.
  • Cacao is a natural aphrodisiac. Many people discuss chocolate's ability to act as an aphrodisiac, but it's actually the chemicals in the raw bean that stimulate the senses and heighten feelings of joy and pleasure. The compounds of anandamide and phenylethylamine, "the love chemical," make the brain release dopamine during sex.
  • It is packed with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your DNA against damage from pollution and aging and help decrease inflammation, which is tied to many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • It may satisfy female cravings. During a woman's menstrual cycle, she may crave chocolate. This may be because chocolate, or rather the cacao from which it comes, contains the mineral magnesium. Many women are deficient in this nutrient.
  • It contains important essential fats. Though the word fat has taken on a highly negative connotation when it comes to health, fat is actually required in a healthy diet. Most people now know that salmon, nuts, and olive oil contain a healthy dose of "good fats," but did you know that cacao is another great way to get heart-healthy fats into your diet?

If you pay attention to the media and news websites, you may feel torn about whether raw cacao and chocolate are harmful, toxic foods or good-for-you superfoods. The same characteristics some experts call benefits, such as the powerful ability of cacao to alter the mood in a positive way, are also the same attributes other experts label as harmful. This conflicting opinion is characterized in the article on raw foods author Frederic Patenaude's site, where mood swings and rapid heart rate are listed as reasons not to consume raw cacao. It's easy to get swept up in the controversy.

Since the opinions and research vary so drastically, consult with your doctor before introducing raw cacao to your diet. Not only will the doctor potentially have access to the latest research, he'll also be able to take a look at your personal health history to see if there is any additional reason you should or should not consume the food. And if you do choose to eat this raw food, do so in moderation. Raw cacao should be a supplement to your diet, not a large part.

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