Peanut Butter - The Healthy Choice?

Wondering whether Peanut Butter is a healthy option to include in your diet?

Here we take a look at:

  • What is peanut butter
  • The health benefits of peanut butter
  • The health risks of peanut butter 
  • Why not all nut butters are created equal
  • Recommended peanut butters and
  • Recommendations on how to use peanut butter.
peanut butter

What Is Peanut Butter

It may surprise you to know that the peanut isn't actually a nut! It's a legume that just happens to taste like a nut. As well as taste, they are nutritionally very similar to nuts.

About half of the weight of peanuts comes from fat and the rest is split evenly between protein and carbohydrate (fibre). 

Breaking it down further:

  • Half of the fat content is monounsaturated
  • One third of the fat comes from polyunsaturates (Omega-6) 
  • About 14% of the fat is naturally saturated.

Ideally Peanut Butter should just be a butter made from crushed peanuts alone - with possibly just a little salt added and nothing more.

Life Saver

Many Peanut Butters available in the supermarket have been heavily processed with undesirable items added to improve: taste, texture, shelf life and profit.


Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is a good source of healthy fat, nutrients and protein. It has more protein per serving than other nuts. Adequate protein intake is important when dieting or building muscle.

Peanut Butter Contains:

  • Monounsaturated Fat
  • Polyunsaturated Fat
  • Saturated Fat
  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals and
  • Phytochemicals.

Health Risks Of Peanut Butter

  1. Firstly, the most serious risk from peanut butter is if you are in the estimated 1% of the population that is highly allergic to peanuts. If you know you are allergic to peanuts, peanut butter is a non-starter for you - sorry!

  2. Peanut Butter is very calorie dense (approx. 190 calories for 2 tablespoons). However, for the 190 calories you do get a decent amount of nutrition. The main concern would be that it is very easy to eat and may not be advisable for those that find it hard to resist.

  3. If you are looking to lose weight, a simple guide would be not to eat more than one tablespoon per day.

  4. As well as containing 'healthy fat', the polyunsaturated fat in PB is Omega-6 fatty acid. Due to modern farming practices, most people are already over consuming Omega-6 and have a poor Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio. Excessive Omega-6 intake has health implications and is associated with inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

  5. Many Peanut Butters are highly processed.
    Check the ingredient labels to see what the product contains.
    Look for a natural product that has just peanuts as the ingredient or peanuts and a small amount of salt.
    It's typical to see reduced fat products and those which have had sugar and Trans Fats (hydrogenated oils) added to them. 

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Why Not All Peanut Butters Are Equal

It can be confusing when selecting a peanut butter to know which to go for. There are so many options in most supermarkets but here are a few things to be aware of:

  • There should be only one or at most two ingredients in this product. Either just peanuts or peanuts and a little salt.
  • If the label includes a large number of ingredients do not select the product.
  • If the product includes Trans Fats (Hydrogenated) then avoid it as there are serious health implications to having Trans Fats in the diet.
  • If the product includes additional sugar discard it.
  • If you are in doubt, natural Peanut Butters separate on the shelf. You will typically see, the natural oil and the nuts separate over time. When you take the lid off a new pot there will be oil at the top. Processed butters avoid this through adding additional ingredients.
skippy-peanut-butter

A poor choice peanut butter


Recommended Peanut Butters

There are two Peanut Butters that I have bought and used which I am happy to recommend. Both of these simply contain peanuts - no added sugar, palm oil / trans fats.

MyProtein Peanut Butter

Ingredients: 100% whole skin on peanuts.

peanut-butter

Ingredients: 100% roasted peanuts.

meridian-peanut-butter

Recommendations For Peanut Butter

  • Choose your product very carefully. If it contains Trans Fats (hydrogenated oils) then walk away! Also check for other additions that need not be in there such as sugar and excess salt. A low fat option is unlikely to be a good choice.

  • Peanut Butter is a good source of: healthy fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. Assuming you moderate your intake of it (due to the calorie density) then it is a great addition to a healthy diet.

  • Peanut Butter can be used as part of a healthy diet as long as you don't over indulge. It's very satiating due to it's high fat and protein content so a little goes a long way.

  • When used with appropriate portion sizes Peanut Butter can help control hunger and aid with weight loss.

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Some great recipes to use Peanut Butter with:

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