Peanut butter is one of the most popular American foods, but is it always a healthy choice?
Peanut butter contains a lot of protein and fiber, which are both important nutrients. It is also energy-dense, meaning a small amount of peanut butter contains a lot of calories. All of this means that just eating a little peanut butter will help us feel full for longer and is a great option when we need a quick energy kick.
Peanut butter is also high in several important vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant
- Magnesium, which helps to keep our bones healthy
- Potassium, which helps our muscles and nerves work correctly
- Manganese, which helps the body heal
- Vitamin B6, which helps our bodies use and store energy
- Vitamin B3 (niacin), which helps to lower cholesterol and improve brain function
Peanuts in general are also good for your heart, memory, sleep, and immune system.
Because peanut butter is energy-dense, eating too much of it can quickly put us over our recommended calorie limits for the day. It is also high in fat and can have added sugars and salt (sodium).
Peanut Butter the Right Way
Peanut butter can be a great option when eaten in the right portion! One serving size of peanut butter is 2 Tablespoons, so don’t go overboard.
When choosing peanut butter, choose all-natural or organic options that only contain peanuts–check the ingredients list on the nutrition label. Beware of added sugars, oils, and salt. Healthier peanut butters will often separate and need to be stirred, so if you see a layer of oil on top don’t worry, just stir! This separation happens because there are no added “binders” to keep the natural oils mixed in.
If you have a high-speed blender or a food processor, you can try making your own peanut butter! Just blend plain peanuts until a paste forms, and feel free to add extras like cinnamon, vanilla flavoring, or raisins.
-Bethany Helm, Student Employee