aflatoxin in peanuts

Aflatoxin: A Cancer-Promoting Substance in Common Foods

Aflatoxin is a potent cancer-causing toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus that primarily infects grains and peanuts. They are probably the best known and most intensively researched mycotoxins (mold toxins) in the world.

Researchers believe that aflatoxin promotes cancer by inactivating a tumor-suppressor gene called p53.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers these toxins to be “unavoidable contaminants” and allows them at low levels in nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Foods Most Contaminated with Aflatoxin

The mold that produces aflatoxin may be found in the following foods:

  • Peanut products
  • Wheat and other grains
  • Corn
  • Legumes
  • Oil seeds such as cottonseed
  • Tree nuts

Reducing Toxins in Your Diet

Limit your exposure to aflatoxin and help protect against its effects by:

  1. Buy reputable brands.
  2. Never eat moldy or shriveled nuts or peanuts.
  3. Avoid bulk bin items – these often contain mold spores which continue to grow during storage.
  4. If you do choose to eat peanuts, always choose Valencia peanuts. They’re grown in an arid climate where aflatoxin is not a concern.
  5. Opt for a Paleo diet which eliminates the most common sources of aflatoxin including grains, legumes, and oil seed products.
  6. Choose grass-fed meats. Animals fed aflatoxin-containing feed (corn and grains, primarily) have levels of aflatoxin stored in their fatty tissues.
  7. Eating a healthy diet that provides powerful detoxifying foods that increase your body’s production of glutathione – your master antioxidant and detoxifier.

Aflatoxin - Found in:

Key TJ, Schatzkin A, Willett WC, Allen NE, Spencer EA, Travis RC.Diet, nutrition and the prevention of cancer.Public Health Nutr. 2004 Feb;7(1A):187-200. Ross RK, Yuan JM, Yu MC, et al.: Urinary aflatoxin biomarkers and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Lancet 339 (8799): 943-6, 1992. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fact Sheets

About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

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