Most people love nuts, especially those of us in the fitness industry who will actually fantasize about the calorie dense morsels. Since I usually take a stance from the fitness end, I want to explore one very popular nut as well as another which had until recently been considered more forbidden. Meet the peanut and the cashew.
Peanuts have become popularized by baseball stands, candies which feature them, and clever labeling on peanut butter jars which, through their colorful and whimsical labels, have won great favor by children and adults alike. The problem with consumption of large amounts of peanuts and peanut products is that androgen dominance develops, which is closely tied to inflammation and insulin resistance. Individuals who are more sensitive may find that they have more acne breakouts when they consume peanuts, peanut oil, or peanut butter. So in a sense, peanuts can wreak some hormonal havoc on the body.
In contrast, cashews may be considered a hormonal ally. Cashews contain compounds referred to as anacardic acid which has a demonstrated anti-estrogen effect in which it blocks the activation of estrogen receptors once they have attached to estradiol. Anacardic acid also kills hormone sensitive breast cancer cells in vitro and may have a beneficial effect in human subjects. If you consume one half cup of cashews, you will ingest approximately 20 milligrams of anacardic acid. The jury is still out on how much of an impact the anti-estrogen effect has, but it certainly won’t hurt either.
By no means am I suggesting that you eliminate peanuts or peanut products from your diet (provided you aren’t allergic to them). But if you consume excessive amounts of peanuts and are noticing that you are suffering from acne breakouts, the peanuts may be the culprit. You might want to stop eating peanuts for a couple of weeks to see if your skin clears up. If you simply cannot live without a nut butter, you can consume almond butter or cashew butter as an alternative. If you have any interest in blocking estrogen through consumption of key foods, adding cashews to your meal plan may be just the boost you need to balance estrogen levels.