I have always loved getting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since I was a kid. That changed when I became a full-fledged teen. Suddenly, peanut butter became an indulgence similar to that of sugary candy bars, soda, and cake. It had to be avoided at all costs!
But here are some good reasons that made me realize why I should have continued eating them:
1. Peanut Butter Promotes Weight Loss
You’d think I am crazy to start off with this fact, but hear me out. Peanut butter has a significantly higher protein content as compared to others. You get 8 grams with just 2 tablespoons. Not only that, but you get essential fiber and fatty components, which satiate you and keeps you hungry less often.
I know calling peanut butter a diet food may seem like a stretch. But it has quite a healthy combination of protein (8g per serving) and fiber (2g per serving) that fills you up quickly and makes you less hungry as you go about your day. It staves off cravings that would otherwise turn into a calorie-fest if left unchecked.
Peanut butter can be consumed in moderate amounts to prevent it from becoming unhealthy. I combine peanut butter with staple food, such as putting it on toast in the morning or eating classic pb&j during lunch. For snacks, you can put a dab on an apple to keep you satiated for far longer.
2. Peanut Butter Is High In Valuable Nutrition
That brown glop might seem to look unhealthy at first glance, but look far beyond that, and you just might see some value. Nutritional value that is!
Aside from the protein mentioned earlier, peanut butter is also rich in potassium. Potassium helps in lowering blood pressure, which in turn prevents the likelihood of various heart diseases and stroke. The fiber certainly helps promote good bowel health. There’s magnesium, which makes your muscles and bones strong—some healthy fats, and of course, Vitamin E as an essential antioxidant.
Let’s speak in technical terms. One serving of peanut butter equals .17 mg vitamin B6 for your immune functions, 208 mg of muscle-building potassium, 49 mg of bone-strengthening magnesium, and about 3 mg of vitamin E.
If it’s the fats you’re concerned about, then let’s get to the next point. Nuts in their natural state are abundant in both mono and polyunsaturated fats. Peanut butter also has some of the plant phytosterols found in peanuts, which help in overall heart health.
3. Peanut Butter Has The Good Fats
Worried about fatty foods in general? Welcome to the club. I always check if the fats in a certain type of food are healthy or not before eating them. What did I find when I checked the fat content in peanut butter? It contained the good ones!
Monounsaturated fat should be at the top of your list when it comes to healthy fats. Avoid any food that contains trans-fat. They will bloat your belly. A study had noted that people who are highly resistant to insulin had a much lower belly fat when they ate mono fats, as compared to the people who ate foods rich in carbs and saturated fat.
You’ll find that some peanut butter products advertise their peanut butter with reduced fat content. Don’t go for it! Check the calories. Some may have an equal or even greater amount of calories than their non-reduced counterparts. They have to fill the extra fat content space with some extra caloric ingredients. Some use more sugar to fill in the reduced fat.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are great because they reduce bad cholesterol (LDL type) and triglyceride levels, which in turn reduces the likelihood of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some heart diseases.
4. Peanut Butter Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Speaking of which, the almighty peanut butter can lessen the chances of an individual developing Type 2 Diabetes. In a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696988/), it was found that an ounce of nuts a day or around 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for 5 days a week can significantly lower the risk of developing diabetes by as much as 30%.
5. Peanut Butter Provides Essential Protein Intake
Whenever I check on rich protein food sources on the web, they almost always point me to nuts. Though many people tend to overlook these little guys in favor of the bigger ones, such as meat and seafood, the fact that peanut butter can be partnered with so many different foods for an added protein boost makes it useful. Oh, and it’s tasty too!
My personal trainer always recommends me to eat foods that are rich in protein, especially after a session at the gym. He says protein is great for building muscle. It also aids in the recovery process. It provides a much-needed fuel for various cellular functions and repairs. You don’t need to eat a whole tub of peanut butter in a day to gain the effects. Just two tablespoons should give your body 8g of protein. This is what my dietician recommended to meet the recommended daily allowance.
Now let’s talk about why peanut butter is so good for the body. The trio of healthy fats, fiber, and protein gives me the kick I need to start the day right. It also gives an excellent midday boost for when I need to finish work or a deadline. As a snack, peanut butter is one of the most convenient sources of protein. It’s healthy, convenient, and inexpensive. You can bring out a tub of peanut butter and apply it to any kind of food any time of the day!
6. Peanut Butter Decreases Heart Condition Risks
It has been suggested time and again that peanuts and our hearts are best buddies. Therefore, peanut butter is one heart-healthy food!
The nutrient-packed nuts contain monounsaturated fats, which help in lowering bad cholesterols (LDL) while at the same time boosting good cholesterols (HDL). A constant diet of peanut butter reduces the formation of unhealthy fats and prevents further blockages in our arteries.
Did you know that the FDA approved the health claim of peanuts and others of its kind in 2003? The scientific evidence states that eating 1.5 oz of nuts per day can reduce the likelihood of a person developing heart disease as they age. Aside from that, it can lower the risks of developing other chronic health conditions such as diabetes and the like.
7. Peanut Butter Protects Against Memory Impairment and Alzheimer’s
How does niacin in foods help prevent the dreaded Alzheimer’s and other memory impairment conditions? By a lot. One study shows how foods rich in niacin content reduced the chances of an individual acquiring Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70 percent (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15258207). Unsurprisingly, peanuts rank among the top foods when it comes to niacin.
Linked research and further study show there are foods that can directly affect our memories and cognitive functions. Olive oil and peanut butter contain an abundance of monounsaturated fats. These fats help in maintaining good mental health and function. The nut’s innate anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties reduce oxidative stress to the brain.
It certainly helps that peanut butter also has vitamin E, a component that actively staves off the early onset of Alzheimer’s (http://www.peanut-institute.org/health-and-nutrition/disease-prevention/other-diseases.asp).
So what does this tell you? It’s time to start eating peanut butter!
8. Peanut Butter May Prevent Cancer and Gallstones
Let’s go back to another success story in the field of research. Scientists found out that people who consume around 5 or more peanut servings per week are found to have a much lower likelihood of getting gallstones as compared to those who aren’t keen on peanuts. These individuals had up to 30% fewer chances because they ate the most consumed nut in the world, the peanut.
While we’re at it, what do peanuts and colon cancer have in common? Eating peanut butter can lessen the chances of a person developing colon cancer (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16482621). The responsible nut components here are resveratrol, phytic acid, and folic acid. Aside from prevention, they can also help protect you from it.
9. Peanut Butter Lets You Live Longer
Finally, eating peanut butter can make you live longer and make your quality of life better. A 2015 Vanderbilt study found out that those who constantly eat nuts have a lower death risk in total. Are there any scientific proofs? The abundance of protective nutrients naturally leads to healthier muscles and nerves. If it can lessen the risk of cardiovascular and mental diseases, then it can certainly stretch your lifespan too!
10. Peanuts Are Rich In Vitamins and Minerals
Peanut butter is one of the biggest sources of potassium. When one thinks of potassium, they usually think of a banana. But did you know that peanuts are actually richer than bananas when it comes to potassium content?
Potassium ease off the excessive build-up of harmful lactic acid in the body. Plus, they eliminate the side effects when one consumes too much sodium. I find that the magnesium in peanut butter helps me get to where I need to go during the day. Magnesium in peanut butter is around 12% RDA in just one serving. So that pb&j sandwich actually detoxifies, regulates your body temperature, gives you extra energy, gives you stronger teeth and bones, and helps in maintaining a healthy nervous system.
The calories coming from the healthy fats are absorbed much more quickly and not stored as body fat. That peanut butter becomes instant energy and does not linger around your waist. Bodybuilders use peanut butter as one of their fuel sources when working out at the gym.
Essential Peanut Butter Ingredients
Sodium. Sodium content can range anywhere from 40mg to 250mg in a 2 tablespoon serving. Higher sodium content could potentially mask a peanut butter’s true flavor.
Sugar. Brands that advertise their peanut butter as natural should only have up to 2g, which is roughly half of commercial peanut butter brands. Choose the one that matches your use. If you intend to use it as a cooking ingredient, you can make do with unsweetened brands that offer fewer calories.
Oil. Choose the healthy ones. Look out for hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated ones.
If you simply cannot choose from the available brands, then there’s still hope. You can make do with some basic ingredients and create your very own homemade peanut butter.
How To Make Delicious Homemade Peanut Butter
I found that the perfect peanut butter is the simplest one. Ones that don’t have extra ingredients that could add to the calories. In making smooth, creamy, and delicious peanut butter, all you’ll need are quality roasted peanuts and your trusty food processor.
Put in some roasted peanuts into the bowl of the food processor. Turn on the processor for a minute, then scrape the sides using a rubber spatula. Repeat the process for a good 2 or 3 more minutes or until the peanut butter exhibits that smooth and shiny texture. Add in natural sweeteners such as honey or ingredients such as salt to taste. The amount you can put in is certainly up to you!
How To Get Beyond The PB&J Sandwich
1. Spread some peanut butter on bagels or toast instead of slathering them with cream cheese or butter.
2. Love salad? I do. Make it better by mixing in some peanut butter with low-fat dressings for a more full-bodied flavor. Mix them using a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Experiment to see which flavors work best with peanut butter.
3. Replace margarine or butter with peanut butter when making pancake or muffin batters.
4. Put them in smoothies! I love to add peanut butter to banana and chocolate smoothies. The combination is simply a match made in heaven.
5. Add in some peanut butter on stir-fry sauces to give them body and added flavor.
6. Wanting a light snack in the afternoon? Try whole wheat crackers with peanut butter. Some celery, sliced apples, and bananas will also suffice.
7. Got a sweet tooth? Then peanut butter and ice cream make a welcome treat. Mix a tablespoon of peanut butter into half a cup of chocolate or vanilla ice cream. You can also use yogurt.
8. Everyone loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Make it healthier by using less-sugar jam and whole grain bread.
9. Add in peanut butter as part of a granola bar recipe to make it tastier. It also helps bind the ingredients together.
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