Peanut butter is pretty much an American staple, from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to cookies and even candy and drink products. But peanut butter (and other nut butters) packs some surprising health benefits. This delightful spread is packed with nutrients you need, including vitamins B6 and E, iron, selenium and magnesium. It’s incredibly versatile, found in breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert foods.
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According to the Peanut Institute, multiple studies have shown that people who eat peanut butter regularly may have some extra protection against certain conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Read on to discover more surprising perks of this delicious spread.
1. It Can Satisfy Your Appetite
Peanut butter has about two grams of fiber and four grams of protein each tablespoon, which is a great appetite-suppressing combo. As reported by the New York Times, a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate peanut butter or peanuts for their first meal of the day had a significant reduction in their desire to eat for anywhere from eight to twelve hours. The spread is associated with an increase in production of the “feel-full” hormone PYY, so researchers theorized this may be the cause for the longer feeling of fullness research participants experienced.
You can add peanut butter to your breakfast in a lot of ways. For example, you can add it to jelly toaster pastries for a PB&J breakfast treat, use it as a glaze for a muffin, or add it to pancake or waffle batter. Try to vary how you use the butter in the morning so you don’t get bored of eating it.
2. It Can Help You Lose Weight
Since peanut butter helps control your appetite, it’s not surprising that it might help you drop some pounds. Today’s Dietitian reports that people who ate at least 1/4 of an ounce of nuts each day had a smaller waist circumference and lower body mass index than those who didn’t.
Work peanut butter into your diet in various ways to keep it fresh. It can be added to your afternoon fruit snack, particularly on apples or bananas, or enjoyed on wheat crackers. If your goal is weight loss, make sure you stick to the PB serving size, which is usually around one tablespoon.
3. It Protects Your Heart
Peanuts are a great source of unsaturated fats, and this can help lower your bad cholesterol. The Peanut Institute reports many studies have shown that eating a handful of peanuts five times a week can cut your heart disease risk by as much as half, and just eating nuts two times a week can cut your heart disease risk by around 24 percent.
Essentially, the fats found in peanut and peanut butter can lower your “bad”, or LDL, cholesterol while helping you keep your “good” HDL cholesterol higher. Nuts can also lower triglycerides, which is a type of fat that’s found in your blood. According to the Mayo Clinic, having a high triglyceride blood level may increase your risk of heart disease.
4. It Boosts Your Hair And Skin
Peanuts have biotin, a vitamin in the B group that’s needed for your hair and scalp’s health. It also has vitamin E, which protects your skin from UV rays and nourishes it as well.
5. It Helps You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Peanuts and their butter are low in carbs, so they can help ward off blood sugar spikes and are a great food for people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK reported on a study in which participants were split into three groups, with one group eating 1.5 ounces of peanuts, one group eating three tablespoons of peanut butter with breakfast, and the last group skipping peanuts and peanut butter completely. All had a lunch of strawberry jam on white bread. The results were surprising: the peanut butter group did the best, feeling fuller for the longest and having lower blood sugars when tested after lunch.
What To Buy
The benefits of peanut butter are best felt and maximized by what kind you buy. With hundreds of brands and types out there, here’s what to look for to get the most bang for your health buck.
Stay Away From Oil
There are many peanut butter varieties out there still being made with hydrogenated oils. While these oils boost texture, they do add trans fat. Some brands replaced these oils with palm oils, and while that’s a better choice, it’s still high in saturated fat. Your best bet is to buy PB without any added oils, and stir the butter before spreading it on anything else.
Avoid Added Sugars
Some peanut butter types add around three to four grams of added sugar per each serving, which works out to about one teaspoon of extra sugar for each two-tablespoon serving. Sugar might appear on the label as honey, molasses, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup or corn syrup solids. Examine the label before you buy to avoid added and hidden sugars.
Don’t Assume “Natural” Is What You Think It Means
The word, “natural” on a peanut butter product doesn’t automatically mean it’s free of oils or added sugars. Real natural peanut butter will just have salt and peanuts. Aim for a product with sodium of not more than 125 mg per serving.
Go For The Full fat
In reduced-fat peanut butter varieties, starch filler and sugars often replace the healthy fats. The calories savings just aren’t enough to cancel out the health benefits of the better fats, so go for the full-fat varieties.
Quick And Easy PB Ideas
If you’re having a hard time deciding how to incorporate peanut butter into your diet more in a healthy way, check out these fast and easy ideas!
The Better PB & J sandwich
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a natural staple, but they can be a bit on the unhealthy side. Try using a whole grain wrap or bread instead of refined breads or wraps. Swap out your usual jam or preserves for a 100-percent fruit spread instead to lower sugar, or use thinly sliced banana or apple.
Veggie And Fruit Snacks
You can use peanut butter as a dip for both fresh veggies and fruit. It goes really well with celery, which only has around 10 calories in a typical stalk, and baby carrots, which are also low in calories and packed with vitamin A and fiber. Limit your servings by using a single-serve container for your peanut butter dip or by measuring out your portion beforehand.
Polish Up Your Oatmeal
Add peanut butter to your oatmeal for both taste and texture. You can use powdered or regular peanut butter to jazz up your oats!
Don’t forget to be creative, as by experimenting with peanut butter combinations, you’ll find new and exciting ways to incorporate this beneficial spread into your diet on a daily basis.