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What can you tell me about food cravings - I am craving peanuts.

Q. What can you tell me about food cravings. I'm craving peanuts. Could there be minerals or vitamins in peanuts that I'm not getting otherwise that my body is craving?

A. We believe that a person's body is always trying to stay optimally healthy, and to heal from injury or illness. So yes, we do believe that your body might be trying to tell you something through your cravings. Exactly what it's trying to tell you, however, is difficult to determine. In a nutritional sense, cravings can sometimes be related to nutrients that are most needed by the body. Peanuts, for example, are a good source of manganese, niacin, molybdenum, folate, vitamin E, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and protein. Although peanuts are not a rich source of any of these nutrients, a few tablespoons of peanut butter each day can provide a good source over time. Peanuts also contain some resveratrol, the phytonutrient that's become so famous in red wine. Once again, peanuts are not especially rich in this nutrient—an ounce of peanuts contains about 50 micrograms of resveratrol at most, compared to nearly 1,000 micrograms in an ounce of red wine. However, over the course of time, if peanuts are enjoyed on a daily basis, they could be a worthwhile source of this phytonutrient.

Cravings can also be related to food allergy, and it is possible for a person to crave a food to which they are most allergic. (Although this may seem contradictory, craving a food to which we are allergic is a fairly common occurrence in nutrition, and one that is documented in scientific research). In the allergy research literature, peanuts turn out to be a very common allergenic food.

So how can you tell if your personal craving for peanuts is based on the helpful nutrients that peanuts are providing, or on an unwanted allergic reaction? You may not be able to make this decision without the help of an experienced healthcare practitioner. If you have never worked with a nutritionist or other healthcare provider who is familiar with food allergy and elimination/challenge diets, we would encourage you to consider taking that step.

In general, we don't think you will go wrong enjoying fresh, whole, minimally processed foods, such as peanuts. But as far as evaluating this food allergy aspect, and determining what meal plan (and nutrients) are most needed in your specific situation are steps we recommend discussing with your health care practitioner.

For more information on this topic, please see:

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