As kids, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is easily a favorite and you couldn’t possibly get enough of it. Then you grow up, start worrying about your health and put your diet under the microscope to analyze everything. You get to peanut butter and you wonder, do I ditch this old fave or can it possibly be part of my diet?
The health benefits of peanut butter cannot be denied. This kitchen favorite has a number of plus points so don’t ditch it just yet. Keep reading…
The Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Source of Protein
2 tablespoons of peanut butter are what you should consume if you want to stay on the healthy end of the peanut butter consumption scale. These 2 tablespoons pack in 7 grams of protein. This is why peanut butter on toast makes for a great breakfast or mid morning meal choice.
As a protein-rich food, when you eat peanut butter you feel fuller for longer. Additionally the protein is also good for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out a lot.
Someone like you and me, who clearly loves their peanut butter, asked the Harvard Medical School if the health benefits of peanut butter extended to heart health. And despite your misgivings, the answer is yes! Peanut butter has its share of saturated food, but like olive oil, it also has a high percentage of unsaturated helping it qualify itself for the healthy camp.
When consumed in moderate amounts, eating a high quality peanut butter like this can actually improve your heart health, especially when compared to those who seldom or never eat nuts.
Most of us have way too much sodium in our diets and as you probably already know, sodium can wreak havoc on your cardiovascular system. Peanut butter acts as an excellent source of potassium, and potassium can go a long way towards countering the dangers of sodium.
A common worry about eating peanut butter is the fat content. However, as mentioned above peanut butter contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat. This means, it is actually a great source of “healthy fats”. A healthy body needs a good supply of healthy fats and like olive oil and avocado, peanut butter is a friendly fat food.
As already discussed, peanut butter contains good amounts of healthy fats and protein. This means it contains plenty of calories that will give you lots of energy for your activities. Again, perfect for a morning meal as it gives you an energy hit for the day.
Your 2 tablespoon serving of peanut butter not only packs in lots of protein but also gives you 2 grams of fiber. Adequate consumption of fiber is important for the healthy functioning of your body and of course you can get more fiber from other meals but peanut butter can help supplement this.
Aids Weight Loss
Okay yes, this one sounds crazy but it’s not. Despite all it’s fat and sodium content, we have already established peanut butter is actually good for you. Due to its protein and fiber content, when you eat peanut butter you actually feel fuller for longer. This means, you’re less likely to crave junk food and unhealthy snacks. This means you eat less overall, and voila weight loss made simpler.
Packed With Nutrients
Protein, fiber, healthy fats, potassium and now antioxidants, magnesium and others too. The list of good things about peanut butter just go on. One serving of peanut butter will give you at least 3 mg of the antioxidant Vitamin E. Additionally, you will also get magnesium (about 49g) which is excellent for bone building and muscle recovery and a small but still important amount (0.17 mg) of vitamin B6 that will help boost your immunity.
You can also find a small amount of zinc in peanut butter and this too can act as a good immunity booster.
Here is an interesting video I found on benefits of peanut butter
How to Buy the Right Peanut Butter
Of course all peanut butters aren’t made alike so you should shop with care. Don’t just go by the percentage of fat. This will be fairly similar across most brands and is not the best indication of whether a peanut butter is good for you. Here are some quick little tips to help you make a decision.
- All natural peanut butter is a good choice if you want to minimize your intake of unhealthy fats. Natural nut butters usually have peanuts as their main ingredient while others (non-natural) can sometimes contain other artificial ingredients to enhance the taste.
- The sugar content on the peanut butter should be a decisive factor. Commercial peanut butter brands can sometimes have up to 250 mg (per tablespoon) more sugar than natural brands. The sugar however contributes greatly to flavor so if you’re using the peanut butter to cook with, then a little more sugar can be better.
- Look out for the sodium content on the ingredients list at the back of your jar of peanut butter. Again, natural brands usually have less sodium. Too much sodium can also mask the nutty flavor.
Natural peanut butters are a better option however if you’re unable to find a natural option or find the organic nut butters too expensive, don’t stress. If you’re eating only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter a day, a commercial brand peanut butter with slightly more salt and sugar isn’t going to be the end of the world.
For something even healthier, try this creamy peanut butter with ground flaxseed for healthy omega-3 fatty acids.