Is Peanut Butter Healthy? What Experts Recommend
Peanut butter is a popular and versatile spread that can be enjoyed in many ways. It is made from ground peanuts, which are rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, not all peanut butter products are created equal. Some may contain added sugar, oil, salt, and other ingredients that can reduce its nutritional value and increase its calorie content. So, is peanut butter healthy or not? What do experts recommend when it comes to choosing and consuming peanut butter? Here are some answers to these questions.
Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, two tablespoons (32 grams) of natural peanut butter provide the following nutrients:
- Calories: 191
- Protein: 7.7 grams
- Fat: 16.4 grams (of which 3.3 grams are saturated)
- Carbohydrates: 6.9 grams (of which 2.6 grams are fiber and 2.8 grams are sugar)
- Vitamin E: 2.9 milligrams (15% of the Daily Value or DV)
- Niacin: 4.4 milligrams (22% of the DV)
- Magnesium: 57 milligrams (14% of the DV)
- Phosphorus: 107 milligrams (11% of the DV)
- Zinc: 0.9 milligrams (6% of the DV)
- Copper: 0.2 milligrams (11% of the DV)
Peanut butter also contains small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, iron, potassium, calcium, and selenium.
Peanut Butter Health Benefits
Peanut butter has several health benefits when consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Some of these benefits are:
- It may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Peanuts and peanut butter are rich in unsaturated fats, which can improve blood lipid profiles and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol². They also contain antioxidants, such as resveratrol, that may protect the blood vessels from oxidative damage.
- It may help control blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. Peanuts and peanut butter have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar after eating them. They also contain fiber, protein, and magnesium, which can help regulate insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
- It may help promote weight loss and prevent obesity. Peanuts and peanut butter are high in protein and fiber, which can increase satiety and reduce appetite. They also have a thermogenic effect, which means they can boost metabolism and energy expenditure. However, peanut butter is also high in calories and fat, so portion control is important to avoid overeating.
- It may help support brain health and cognitive function. Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of niacin, vitamin E, and zinc, which are essential for brain development and function. They also contain flavonoids, such as quercetin, that may have neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress and inflammation.
Peanut Butter Types and Recommendations
There are many types of peanut butter products available in the market, but they vary in their ingredients, quality, and healthiness. Here are some tips on how to choose and consume peanut butter wisely:
- Look for natural or organic peanut butter that contains only peanuts and salt (or no salt). Avoid peanut butter that has added sugar, oil, hydrogenated fats, or other artificial additives.
- Check the nutrition label and compare the calorie, fat, sodium, and sugar content of different brands. Choose the one that has the lowest amount of these nutrients per serving.
- Store peanut butter in a cool and dry place or in the refrigerator to prevent oil separation and rancidity. Stir well before using.
- Limit your intake of peanut butter to one or two tablespoons per day. Use it as a spread on whole-wheat bread or crackers, as a dip for fruits or vegetables, or as an ingredient in smoothies or oatmeal.
- Try making your own peanut butter at home by blending roasted peanuts in a food processor until smooth. You can add a pinch of salt or honey for flavor if you like.
Peanut butter is a healthy food that can provide many benefits for your heart, blood sugar, weight, and brain. However, it is also high in calories and fat, so moderation is key. Choose natural or homemade peanut butter that has no added sugar or oil, and enjoy it as part of a balanced diet.