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Is Peanut Butter Good or Bad for Psoriasis?

Posted on July 06, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Sarah Winfrey

Some people with psoriasis find that eating different foods triggers their skin condition. Others find that a particular diet helps them feel better. Although maintaining a particular diet isn’t enough to manage psoriasis, it is often one way that people try to reduce psoriasis flare-ups. One potential psoriasis trigger that MyPsoriasisTeam members have wondered about is peanut butter. As a member asked, “Peanut butter? Good or bad?”

Several members have noticed worsened psoriasis symptoms after eating peanut butter. One summed up their experience when they shared, “I don’t usually make a habit of eating peanut butter, so it was noticeable the next day that my skin was worse.”

Another agreed, writing, “I got lazy with my lunches and started eating PB sandwiches because they were quick and easy. And now, my psoriasis seems worse. This is the only thing I can think of that’s changed.”

Here is what you need to know about peanut butter and psoriasis. As always, talk to your dermatologist or a health care provider before making changes to your diet or adding new products to your psoriasis management regimen.

Peanuts and Allergies

Some people with psoriasis find that their symptoms flare when they eat foods that they are allergic or sensitive to because these foods trigger an immune system response. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to peanuts, then eating peanut butter could make your psoriasis worse.

People who have true peanut allergies usually know it because they’ve been diagnosed with the allergy or have experienced allergic reactions in the past. In some cases, this allergy can be life-threatening.

However, people with mild to moderate sensitivities or intolerances may not have these symptoms. They’ll likely need to consult with an allergist or nutrition professional to figure out if they need to eliminate peanuts from their diet.

Peanut Butter, Omega-6 Fatty Acid, and Inflammation

If you have psoriasis, try to reduce inflammation in your body. Although lowering overall inflammation may not cure your psoriasis, it may lessen your symptoms and may help you feel better.

A variety of foods can cause inflammation, including sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy products, and gluten. Some people with psoriasis find that avoiding these items helps them feel better. Note that a gluten-free diet usually only helps people who also live with celiac disease.

Peanut butter is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Some research indicates that omega-6 fatty acids can also cause inflammation throughout the body. They may also inhibit the anti-inflammatory properties of other substances, like omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, omega-6 fatty acids may contribute to increased inflammation, and eliminating them may be part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

It’s useful to understand why people worry about omega-6s. The most commonly consumed omega-6 fatty acid is linolenic acid. The body can convert this into arachidonic acid, which contributes to inflammation. However, arachidonic acid can be converted to other acids, which work to calm inflammation.

Ultimately, the harms and benefits of eating omega-6s with psoriasis are widely debated. It may be that some people are more sensitive to the inflammatory compounds produced by these acids than others.

No matter your level of sensitivity, however, it’s important not to eliminate omega-6s. They are essential to a balanced diet and offer many health benefits, including:

  • Lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raising HDL (“good” or beneficial cholesterol)
  • Keeping the body’s sensitivity to insulin high

Instead of cutting a nutrient essential to overall health, make sure you balance omega-6 fatty acids with your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish — like salmon and sardines — as well as nuts and seeds, like walnuts and chia seeds. They can also be found in fish oil supplements.

Finding a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can be difficult. If you’re struggling to figure out what to eat to get the right balance of fatty acids for healing psoriasis, talk to your dermatologist or work with a nutritionist or registered dietitian. These professionals can help you try different dietary options until you find one that works for you.

Alternatives To Consider

If store-bought peanut butter makes your psoriasis worse, you might try an all-natural variety. There are also other types of nuts and seeds that have healthful benefits, including almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Natural Peanut Butter

Before you eliminate peanut butter, try eating the all-natural kind. Many types of peanut butter sold in grocery stores have quite a bit of sugar, which can trigger inflammation and worsen psoriasis symptoms. Natural peanut butter won’t have the added sugar, so it may not make your symptoms worse.

If you can’t find natural peanut butter, try making your own. Get some all-natural peanuts and grind them in a food processor or a blender until you have peanut butter at a texture you can eat.

Almonds

Almonds are high in healthy fats that help reduce cholesterol, and they have enough fiber to fill you up. They may even help lower your C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which serve as an indicator of how much inflammation you have in your body. When these levels are down, you may experience fewer psoriasis symptoms.

You can eat almonds by themselves or buy them slivered and add them to salads, rice, and more.

Walnuts

Walnuts are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, so they can help you achieve a better balance between those and the omega-6s. They have also been shown to lower CRP levels, lower blood pressure, reduce stress on the heart, and lower bad cholesterol.

Walnuts are great by themselves as a snack, but some people find their taste overwhelming. You can eat them with tart fruit, like apples or cherries, or add them to dishes like stir fry instead of meat.

Seeds

If you’re looking for that particular crunch or texture that often comes with eating nuts, try adding seeds instead.

Chia seeds are high in omega-3s, so they may help reduce inflammation in your body. These can develop almost a pudding-like consistency when given time to absorb liquid, so they are great additions to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.

Flaxseeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3s. However, you may need to grind them up or crush them for your body to be able to access that goodness. You can usually buy flaxseed meal, or you can do it yourself with a grinder or even a mortar and pestle. Most people don’t enjoy eating flaxseeds alone, but they are easy to add to cereal, oatmeal, or smoothies. They can also be used in baked goods.

Find Your Team

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, more than 109,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis. It won’t be long before you have the support you need to live well with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

Are you looking for a diet that might help your psoriasis? Have you found that eating peanut butter makes you feel either better or worse? Share your questions and experiences in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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