Is peanut butter healthy? Or should you only eat it in moderation?
The answer to this question is here below in the article. Peanut butter is convenient, filling, high in protein and fat, and very popular. In fact, the average American eats around four pounds of peanut butter every year. But just like any food, there are pros and cons to peanut butter that you should know about before you make it a staple in your diet.
Here’s a look at the positive and negative aspects of peanut butter, what to check when you’re reading a peanut butter label, and a few high-quality peanut butter alternatives that you may want to use if you’re allergic or sensitive to peanuts.
What is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is relatively unprocessed food.
It’s basically just peanuts, often roasted, that are ground until they turn into a paste.
However, this doesn’t apply to many commercial brands of peanut butter that contain various added ingredients, such as sugar, vegetable oils, and even trans fat.
Eating too much added sugar and trans fat has been linked to various health problems, such as heart disease. Rather than buying junk food, choose real peanut butter. It should contain nothing but peanuts and maybe a bit of salt.
Nutritional Profile of Peanut Butter-
According to the USDA, each two-tablespoon serving of creamy peanut butter has:
- Calories- 190
- Saturated Fat- 3.5g
- Monounsaturated Fat – 8.3g
- Polyunsaturated Fat- 4g
- Carbs – 7g
- Fiber- 2g
- Protein – 7g
- Peanut butter includes about 25% protein, making it an excellent plant-based protein source. However, it is low in the essential amino acid methionine.
- Being low in carb, and suitable for people with type 2 diabetes or those following a low-carb diet.
- Pure peanut butter is a good source of healthy fats. While some people have been worried about its omega-6 linoleic acid content, limited evidence justifies their concerns.
- Peanut butter is high in many healthy vitamins and minerals.
- Peanut butter is rich in antioxidants, including p-coumarin and resveratrol. These plant compounds provide various health benefits to animals.
Is Peanut Butter Good For you?
In many ways, peanut butter is quite healthy.
One serving of peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of net carbs, 16 grams of fat, and about 180 calories.
The healthiest peanut butter you can make from one ingredient: ground peanuts. However, a lot of commercial brands are made from ground peanuts, oil (often hydrogenated soybean or canola oil), salt, and either sugar or corn syrup.
The added sugar and oil in many peanut butters take away from their health factor, so if you’re going to eat peanut butter, your best bet is to get the natural stuff you can make and buy with just peanuts, or peanuts and salt.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter-
- Helps in weight loss and keeps you full for a longer period of time.
- Peanut butter helps in boosting your heart health.
- Peanut butter helps in bodybuilding and muscle gain.
- Helps in managing your blood sugar levels.
- It also reduces the risk of breast cancer.
As you can see, peanut butter has a fair number of health benefits. However, when it comes to purchasing peanut butter for yourself, it’s crucial to understand that not all peanut butter is created equally.
Concerns about Peanut Butter
- Peanut allergies Peanuts and other nuts are common allergens, with a peanut or tree nut allergy affecting over 3 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Those with a known peanut allergy should avoid peanut butter and foods containing nuts. The NIH also notes that just 20 percent of those with an allergy will eventually outgrow the allergy and stop having reactions to nuts.
- Potential Source of Aflatoxins –The biggest toxin to watch out for is aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced by Aspergillus molds. Aflatoxin usually contaminates corn, peanuts, and grains that grow in humid conditions or they are in store improperly. Peanut butter may contain varying levels of aflatoxins, which are toxic compounds in a mold shape. It can lead to an increase in levels of risk of liver cancer.
- Commercial Peanut butter often has added sugar and contains hydrogenated oils – A lot of added sugar can increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Natural peanut butter separates, leaving a layer of peanut oil at the top and the ground peanut at the bottom. A lot of companies make “no-stir” peanut butter that stays together and is especially smooth and creamy. While no-stir peanut butter is delicious, it’s the result of producers adding fully or partially hydrogenated oils (aka sources of trans fat) to make the peanut butter stay homogenous at room temperature. Hydrogenated oils are bad for your health.
Which Peanut Butter is best?
When selecting a peanut butter product, look for one that contains just peanuts and few or no other ingredients.
Some peanut butter brands will contain other ingredients, such as sugar, salt, and added oils. Avoid these where possible. Try adding a little honey to peanut butter dishes as a sweetener instead.
It is normal for pure peanut butter to separate into solid and liquid form. Stir the contents thoroughly, and the consistency will return to normal. People can buy natural peanut butter in health food stores and online. To stop the peanut butter going off, store it in the refrigerator.
How to add Peanut Butter in your daily diet?
Be mindful of your intake to avoid eating more calories than you may need in a day. Remember 2 tbsp of peanut butter is close to 200 calories. People can include peanut butter in their diets by –
- Making a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, using the whole fruit, low sugar jelly, and whole-grain bread.
- Spreading peanut butter on rice cakes and top with banana slices.
- Whipping up a Thai peanut dressing for salads, using lime juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey.
- Adding a spoonful of the nut butter to smoothies to make them more filling.
- Dipping apple and pear slices into peanut butter for an easy snack.
- Stirring peanut butter into yogurts or warm oatmeal.
Peanut butter can be a totally healthy option—especially if you choose a brand that’s lower in sugar, sodium, and oil; watch your portion sizes, and use it in healthy foods and recipes. However, eating too much peanut butter can increase a person’s daily intake of saturated fat, sodium, and calories. But there are a few downsides to peanut butter, too: potential GMOs, vegetable oils, and sneaky ingredients like sugar and preservatives.
Those who have a peanut allergy should avoid peanut butter as it could trigger a potentially deadly reaction.
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