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Peanuts are one of the most nutritious food items we can find. Rich in proteins, healthy fats and a host of vitamins and minerals, peanuts are consumed in a variety of ways. However, research has found that peanut allergies have increased drastically in the last few years, meaning that many pregnant women avoid eating them in order to protect the baby. However, this also applies to breastfed babies, as mother’s milk can also transfer any allergens or toxins from the mother’s body to the baby. This article will help you understand the health benefits of peanuts, the risks posed as well as any safety concerns regarding your baby’s and your health.
Is it Safe to Eat Peanuts During Breastfeeding?
To put it simply, peanuts are perfectly safe to eat while pregnant or breastfeeding, as they pose no harm to the baby whatsoever unless the mother or the baby has an allergy or is sensitive to peanuts. Luckily, during breastfeeding, you do not have to stick to the strict pregnancy diet as long as you follow some rules of healthy eating. This means eating a range of foods, such as whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes and so on.
Health Benefits of Peanuts while Breastfeeding
Breastmilk is a whole food, meaning it contains all the necessary nutrients for a baby to grow and thrive. It is important you consume healthy foods to supplement the nutrients in your milk as well. Peanuts are a great option, as they have several health benefits for both you and your baby:
- Folic Acid: Peanuts are rich in folic acid or Vitamin B9. This nutrient is extremely important in the growth of muscle and nervous tissues in the baby, especially during pregnancy. It is also helpful in avoiding any future birth complications.
- Healthy Fats: Peanuts are rich in a variety of unsaturated plant fats. These fats are helpful in the efficient functioning of the circulatory system and the blood vessels. Peanuts are also low in bad cholesterol.
- Proteins: Peanuts are a great source of proteins, which are essential in almost all body processes, such as muscle development, and so on.
- Phosphorus: The phosphorus present in peanuts helps strengthen teeth and bones, and are important in muscle activity and energy generation in the body.
- Fibre: The high amounts of fibre in peanuts ease digestive processes, preventing problems like constipation. It also makes your stomach feel full and sated.
- Vitamin E: Peanuts have Vitamin E, which is required for healthy skin, as well as in protecting cells and the immune system.
- Niacin: Niacin or Vitamin B3 is required in the formation and functioning of the digestive organs and the nervous system. It also helps in the production of energy and the formation of supple skin.
- Biotin: This nutrient is essential in the development and maintenance of healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, nerves and other organs.
Risks of Consumption of Peanuts while Breastfeeding
Peanut allergy through breastmilk is possible and is caused by proteins known as allergens, which can cause severe reactions in those sensitive to these molecules. This includes rashes, difficulty breathing, swelling, and often anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. As mentioned earlier, nutrients consumed by the mother can pass into the breastmilk and affect the baby. However, you can have your baby tested for sensitivity to various foods, including peanuts, by your paediatrician. If your baby does not display any allergy symptoms, you may go ahead and consume these foods.
Peanuts Allergy Concerns
It is important to ensure that your baby does not show any signs of allergy when you eat particular foods. Symptoms of peanut allergy in breastfed babies include rashes, fussing, congestion, diarrhoea, or crying excessively. If this occurs, consult your paediatrician immediately. Finally, if someone in your immediate family, such as your other children, has a peanut allergy, it is safest to avoid them altogether, as there is a possibility your baby might be allergic. Earlier studies were of the opinion that the risk of peanut allergies developing in babies was reduced if the mother avoided eating peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, this is not the case. In fact, it is more likely that being exposed to peanuts at a very early age reduce the risks of forming a peanut allergy.
What About Peanut Butter – Is it Safe?
Can you eat peanut butter when breastfeeding? Peanut butter is a paste made out of grinding roasted, dried peanuts. Therefore, it is as safe to consume as peanuts themselves.
If you are breastfeeding, then you will need to consume around 500 more calories every day. A part of this energy can come from peanuts or peanut butter, as these foods have only highly nutritious components like healthy fats, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. As long as you, your baby or anyone in your family has no peanut allergy, there is no need to be concerned.
Also Read: Eating Chocolate During Breastfeeding