Public Comment

Perils of Peanuts

David Brown,Kalispell, MT
Sunday October 05, 2014 - 10:18:00 AM

Editor's Note: We usually avoid publishing articles that purport to give medical advice since we can't vouch for the credentials of the author. We're making an exception in the case of opinions on Berkeley Measure D, since it's a political question that embeds medical judgments within it, but we advise readers not to rely on opinion writers for health advice, but to consult a doctor.

In her "Berkeley Grapples With Big Soda" editorial Becky O'Malley said, "The problem is that from a public policy point of view you have to wonder if it’s a good idea to use the city’s taxing power to promote the latest theory from 'the controversial science of diet and health', no matter how tight it seems to be. And if it’s enacted as an ordinance through a ballot measure, it will take another citizens’ vote to repeal it if scientists change their minds."

Yeah, well most scientists don't pay enough attention to the scientific literature to sort things out. I've been studying nutritional issues and controversies for more than three decades. Rather soon after I began my investigations I concluded that excessive sugar intake was problematic. Unfortunately, up until about 5 years ago I didn't realize I was slowly doing myself in by consuming too much peanut butter.

to be sure, Peanuts are no more "poisonous" than sugar when consumed in moderation. But eating a peanut butter sandwich nearly daily during the work week for several decades is not wise. How so? Peanuts contain 4,000 milligrams of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) in each 28 gram, one ounce serving of peanuts. National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientist Bill Lands emphasized this point in a 2009 presentation (Google - 1 of 4 Bill Lands) about tissue responses to excessive omega-6 intake. 

About 2 months after I stopped eating peanut butter my leg pains subsided. A year or so later I noticed that I no longer had gingivitis. More recently my blood pressure returned to normal and my LDL cholesterol dropped 30 mg/dL. Total cholesterol now hovers around 220 mg/dL which falls on the lowest point of the total cholesterol/mortality curve. Best of all, I've regained much of the strength and stamina I lost as I approached retirement age. 

In early 2010 I began researching the omega-6 hazard, as I term it. What I've learned thus far paints a grim picture. For example, high omega-6 intake prior to pregnancy affects the intelligence of offspring. During the third trimester of pregnancy, the mother's body obtains fats from fat stores to build brain tissue. If fat stores are rich in omega-6s and deficient in omega-3s the baby gets an inferior brain. (Google - Sex Differences in the Relationship of Dietary Fatty Acids to Cognitive Measures in American Children) 

The fatty acid composition of breast milk can also be problematic. Quote: "Human intelligence has a physical basis in the huge size of our brains. It is some seven times larger than would be expected for a mammal with our body size," said Steven Gaulin, UCSB professor of anthropology and co-author of the paper. "Since there is never a free lunch, those big brains need lots of extra building materials. Most importantly, they need omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. Omega-6 fats, however, undermine the effects of DHA and seem to be bad for brains." (Google - Fats in Breast Milk Linked to Academic Success) 

In a 2013 interview entitled More “Vegetable” Oil? MORE Heart Deaths another NIH scientist Joseph Hibbeln said, "Just as all polyunsaturates are not created equal, all high fat diets are not created equal. A good example of this is an animal study we did where we compared three high fat diets. All with 60% of calories from fat, in mice. We compared high fat diets that resembled the linoleic acid, Omega 6 intakes, comparable to the levels at the beginning of the century, which was about 1 percent of calories, and those high fat diets with 8 percent of calories, more similar to the amount of Omega 6 in the diet simply from soy oil in the U-S diet, today. Moving from 1% to 8% linoleic acid in the mouse diets, not only tripled the levels of arachidonic acids, but also tripled the levels of a critical derivative of arachidonic acids, which is an endogenous cannabinoid, which creates a similar affect to marijuana. So it’s the brains own marijuana like molecules, and we were able to triple the body’s marijuana like hormones, three times higher in the liver and about 20% higher in the brains just by altering the linoleic acid in those two high-fat diets. Normally those high fat diets used for mice in studies are composed of high linoleic acid, found in soybean oil. When we deleted that one single molecule, the Omega 6 fatty acid, we were able to obliterate the ability of a 60% high fat diet to induce obesity in the mice...And we did it also in diets that were 35% of calories from fat, and also diets that were 12% of calories from fat. We were able to induce obesity in low fat diets, in the mice, by changing the bioactive properties of the fat, not just that it was high fat and more calories." 

Considering how toxic the omega-6 molecule is at intakes exceeding 1 to 2 percent of total caloric intake, It's a wonder there's so little interest in or concern about this problem in the scientific community. To learn more about the omega-6 hazard, Google omega-6 in conjunction with any mental or physical illness you don't want to develop or die from.