The New Health Food – Peanut Butter

Updated on November 9th, 2020
Benefits of Peanut butter

Peanut butter is one of the most renowned spreads worldwide.

The texture is simply amazing, it tastes delicious,  and the way it sticks to the roof of your mouth before it melts is amazing. At least that’s how many fans would describe it.

Of course, not everyone can relish peanuts. Few people are allergic, and for a little percentage of the population, they can literally kill. But is peanut butter unhealthy for the remaining 99% of individuals? Let’s find out.

What Is Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is comparatively unprocessed food. It’s typically just peanuts, usually roasted, that are ground until they turn into a paste.

However, this doesn’t apply to most commercial peanut butter brands that contain several added ingredients, such as vegetable oils, sugar, and even trans fat [1].

Overeating trans fat and added sugar had been linked to several health problems, such as heart disease. Rather than buying junk foods, opt for real peanut butter. It should contain nothing but peanuts and maybe a bit of salt. 

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Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts

The USDA provides the following nutrition information for 2 tablespoons (32g) of smooth (as opposed to chunky) peanut butter with added salt.

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 16g
  • Sodium: 140mg
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Protein: 7g

This is how 32 grams of peanut butter contributes to the RDI of critical nutrients: 

  • Copper: 43% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 28% of the RDI
  • Iron: 22% of the RDI
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 18% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6 ): 9% of the RDI
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 11% of the RDI
  • Niacin (vitamin B3): 25% of the RDI
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 17% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 10% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 18% of the RDI

Unlike tree nuts, peanut butter and peanuts offer nothing in the way of vitamin A or C. 

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

Consuming peanut butter in moderation and as part of an overall healthful diet can offer the following benefits:

1. Weight loss

Several studies indicate that eating peanuts and other nuts can help individuals maintain their weight or even help with weight loss. This may be because peanuts enhance satiety, which is the feeling of fullness, thanks to their fat, protein, and fiber content.

A 2018 research indicates that having nuts, including peanuts, reduces a person’s risk of being obese or overweight. This study compared the lifestyle and dietary data for over 373,000 individuals from 10 European countries over 5 years [2].

Based on information gathered from over 51,000 women, an earlier study suggested that those who ate nuts twice weekly or more experienced slightly less weight gain over 8 years than women who rarely ate nuts.

2. Boosting cardiovascular health

Peanut butter contains several nutrients that can improve cardiovascular health, including:

  • MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids)
  • magnesium
  • niacin
  • vitamin E

The proportion of unsaturated fats (MUFAs and PUFAs) to saturated fats in the diet plays a particularly important role in cardiovascular health. Peanut butter has the same ratio as olive oil — which is also called a cardiovascular-healthy option [3].

A high intake of nuts can have links to a reduced risk of heart disease mortality or other causes. The experts recommend peanuts, in specific, as a cost-effective way to enhance cardiovascular health for a few individuals.

Studies also suggest that including 46 g per day of peanut butter or peanuts into an ADA (American Diabetes Association) diet plan for 6 months could improve blood lipid profiles, benefit the heart,  and control weight for diabetes patients.

However, as peanut butter is rich in calories, people must limit their intake if they do not want to gain weight. Having more than the prescribed amount will also increase sodium and fat intake, which does not benefit the heart.

3. Bodybuilding

Many fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders include peanut butter in their diets for several reasons.

Although calorie amounts will vary based on activity level, stature, and metabolic rate, the typical daily prescribed calorie intake ranges from up to 3,000 calories per day for men and around 1,600–2,400 calories per day for women.

However, active women need up to 2,400 calories per day, while active adult men should consume up to 3,000 calories daily.

Thanks to its rich-calorie content, peanut butter is an easy way to increase unsaturated fat and calorie intake.

Nut butter is also a great source of protein, which is important for repairing and building muscles. Although peanut butter is not a whole protein — meaning it does not contain all of the essential amino acids the body requires — it does count toward an individuals’ daily protein intake.

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Peanut butter combined with whole-grain bread makes a more complete protein meal, as the bread has the amino acid methionine, which peanut butter is devoid of.

4. Managing blood sugar levels

Peanut butter is a comparatively low-carbohydrate food that has good amounts of protein and fats and some fiber.

These characteristics infer that peanut butter, with no extra sugar, does not significantly impact blood glucose levels. This means it can be a great option for people with diabetes.

The ADA recommends that individuals replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats in their diets. They suggest peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil as excellent sources of monounsaturated fat.

A brief study in 2013 indicates that eating peanuts or peanut butter for breakfast could help obese women and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes to control their blood glucose levels.

According to the survey, the women who incorporated nuts into their breakfast had lower blood sugar levels and reported less hunger than women who ate a breakfast that has a similar amount of carbohydrates but no nuts.

Peanut butter is an excellent source of magnesium, which is an essential nutrient for diabetes patients. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar may minimize magnesium levels in the body. Low magnesium levels are linked to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

[Read13 Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Out of Control]

5. Minimizing the risk of breast disease

Consuming peanut butter, particularly from a young age, can minimize BBD risk (benign breast disease), which increases the risk of breast cancer.

A study in the journal BCRT (Breast Cancer Research and Treatment) reports that eating nuts and peanut butter at any age may lower the risk of developing benign breast disease by age 30.

The scientists examined the data for over 9,000 schoolgirls in America. Other kinds of pulses, such as soy and beans, and vegetable fats, and other nuts, may also offer BBD protection.

Even people with a family history of breast cancer had a remarkably lower risk of eating peanut butter and these other foods.

Bottom Line

Peanut butter can be a healthy option when individuals enjoy it as part of a balanced diet. It is rich in various nutrients, including magnesium and protein, which can help protect the heart and manage body weight and blood sugar.

However, overeating peanut butter can increase an individuals’ daily intake of sodium, saturated fat, and calories. Those who have a peanut allergy should skip peanut butter as it could trigger a potentially fatal reaction.

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