The simple answer to this question is yes, you can eat peanut shells, but you should not for health reasons. The problem is, it is extremely tough to chew. Also, because of its high cellulose content, our stomach cannot break it down completely. Additionally, there are no significant health benefits to eating them. Eating peanut shells can cause gastrointestinal issues like colitis, bezoars, and intestinal blockages. It’s also one of the driest parts of the plant and has only an 8% water content. The shell consists of 60% crude fiber, 25% cellulose, 6% crude protein, and 1% fat. You can achieve your daily fiber content by eating other vegetables and fruits instead of peanut shells. Skip the shells and eat the peanuts instead.
Some enjoy eating peanut shells as a snack. It may sound unheard of but, it’s a choice few people make because they seem to enjoy its texture and earthy flavor.
When peanuts are salted, some like the shells because of the saltiness and the taste accompanied by eating it whole. It could be the crunch that appeals to some people looking for a substitute to chips and pretzels.
If you have a habit of eating those nuts with the shell on, let’s hope this article compels you to cancel them from your go-to list of snacks and that it takes away the existing appeal you have for them.
Let’s explore the potential health risks associated with consuming peanut shells.
What is the harm in eating peanut shells after all?
The fats contained in peanuts are highly beneficial to our heart health, and they help reduce the bad cholesterol in the body.
Peanut shells, on the other hand, are not an idea of a high-quality and nutritious snack.
Peanut shells contain a lot of fiber. When you consume excessive amounts of fiber, it can be a prime reason for digestive problems.
The texture and consistency of peanut shells are very similar to cardboard or sawdust, and it is almost impossible to digest and break down in the stomach.
The undigested material tends to accumulate in the intestinal tracts and develops into a mass that causes blockages.
The blockage won’t allow the passage of stools through your system and thus can cause stomach distress. This blockage in the form of a solid mass is called a bezoar.
Bezoar typically refers to ingesting hair or carpet fibers but also happens otherwise.
Phytobezoars are the type that consists of undigested food fibers such as cellulose. It forms a mass inside the stomach and sometimes the small intestine.
Cellulose occurs in fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, raisins, beets, prunes, sunflower seeds, and peanut shells.
Small bezoars can pass through the digestive tract and out of the body with medications. In extreme cases, surgery is required to remove a bezoar.
Colitis is a condition in which there is inflammation in the lining of the colon.
An inflamed colon occurs due to an infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or loss of blood supply to the colon.
According to a study in 1985, eating peanut shells caused non-specific colitis in a 40-year-old man. The rough exterior of the peanut shell can cause damage to the delicate lining of the colon by mechanical abrasion.
Peanuts like potatoes and carrots are grown under the ground.
Like all crops grown beneath the soil, peanuts are likely to get infected by fungi if not treated with pesticides. This is the reason why peanuts are farmed with lots of pesticides on them.
Farmers who grow peanuts do not expect consumers to eat the shells. So, it does not undergo processes to remove the harmful pesticides from it.
So when people consume them, they also ingest the harmful pesticides on them that can cause a lot of harm to their bodies. So it’s best to avoid eating peanut shells next time you get a bag from the grocery store.
Pica – Eating disorder
Pica is a psychological disorder in which an individual has an appetite for non-nutritive substances like peanut shells.
The causes related to this disorder include malnourishment, schizophrenia, pregnancy, anemia, or developmental conditions like autism.
If eating peanut shells has become an obsessive compulsion or a craving, this could be an underlying cause of something more severe.
- If you have ingested some peanut shells on accident, don’t worry, it won’t kill you and you will be fine.
- You should contact a healthcare professional immediately if you are eating peanut shells excessively. Ask about tests and treatments for it before it causes some other serious problems.
- You can use peanut shells for other uses around the house like to make mulch in the garden, composting, as charcoal for a barbeque, or as litter for cats.
Are peanut shells edible?
They are technically edible and won’t poison you but, you shouldn’t be eating them. It can be contaminated with pesticides or can cause serious digestive problems.
Can you eat fried or boiled peanut shells?
There are a lot of health risks involved with eating peanut shells. Even if you boil or fry them, they are extremely tough for our intestines to digest and can cause colitis and intestinal blockages.
It is not a snack you should ideally be eating. You can munch on peanuts instead of eating the shells.
Are there any benefits to eating the shells?
When you eat peanut shells, the harm outweighs the benefits it has. The only foreseeable advantage of eating the shells is the promise of getting some dietary fiber.
However, you can eat many other soft and nutritious vegetables and fruits to include fiber in your daily diet. Fruits like apples, oranges, persimmon, and guavas and vegetables like beetroots, potatoes, and carrots are fiber-rich.
The habit of consuming or craving peanut shells can be related to many disorders like pica, colitis, and bezoars. They are serious disorders which if not treated, can affect our well-being and health.
We must consider all the consequences of consuming such a highly abrasive and hard shell.
It’s better to ditch the habit of eating the shells and consult with a qualified healthcare professional to get treatments and behavior modification techniques to improve your lifestyle.