Is Peanut Butter Healthy? Here’s What You Need to Know…
Peanut butter: as the old song says, “it’s good for your dad, it’s good for your mother”!
Peanut butter makes everything better! Dark chocolate is delicious, but adding peanut butter gives you the world’s most delicious candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Toast and jam is a great way to start your day, but with a bit of peanut butter, you get the PB&J, the sandwich you can never stop eating.
Smoothies are a tasty treat to help you consume more protein, but with a scoop of peanut butter, it’s like a whole blender full of healthy, peanut-flavored goodness straight from the gods themselves.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did You Know 91% of American households use peanut butter? U.S. sales of peanut butter came close to $1.2 billion in 2015 alone. That’s a lot of people with a peanut butter-induced smile on their faces!
Sadly, we have to look the nutty gift horse in the mouth and ask the tough question: Is peanut butter healthy?
Below, we’ll take a look at peanut butter both the pros and cons to answer the question “Is peanut butter good for you?”
The answer may surprise you…
The Facts: Peanut Butter Nutritional Info
Before we can get into the details, first we have to know all the facts.
Here is a look at the cold, hard data on peanut butter’s nutritional value:
In the basic serving size (32 grams, or 2 tablespoons) of everyone’s favorite smooth, creamy peanut butter, you get:
Let’s take a closer look at that nutritional data, so we can better understand how eating peanut butter affects us:
The point of this article is to answer the question “Is peanut butter healthy?” Well, to answer that question, let’s take a look at the things that make peanut butter such a great addition to your diet:
Of course, for every pro, there has to be a con, right? To truthfully answer the question “Is peanut butter good for you?” we have to look at the downsides/risks/dangers of peanut butter:
Allergic reactions — This is one of the primary arguments against not only peanut butter, but all peanut products! According to Food Allergy Research & Education, roughly 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
Only EIGHT foods account for 90% of the allergic reactions, and peanuts (all nuts, really) are on that list of the “Hateful Eight”. Roughly 3 million people suffer from tree nut and peanut allergies. The number of children (under the age of 18) living with peanut allergies has increased by 300% since 1997.
Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the peanut-shaped tunnel: F.A.R.E. estimates that up to 20% of children outgrow their peanut/nut allergies. However, it’s vital to understand that for children with peanut allergies, peanut butter is a DANGEROUS food–one that can cause symptoms like runny nose, digestive upset, skin reactions, itching, and shortness of breath.
Aflatoxins — Uh-oh, you see the “-toxins” there, don’t you? Time to freak out? Perhaps…
According to Wikipedia, Aflatoxins are “poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals that are produced by certain molds (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains”. Where do you think these molds are often found? That’s right, in improperly stored peanuts.
The good news is that 89% of aflatoxins are killed off during the processing of peanuts into peanut butter. The bad news is that aflatoxins have been linked to a number of health problems, including liver cancer, impaired child growth, and even reduced mental function/performance. Thankfully, the USDA monitors the levels of aflatoxins in peanut butter, so the risk of being exposed to these toxins is fairly low. However, it’s vital to understand that the risk is still there.
Atherogenic — To put this in layman’s terms, it may increase the risk of atherosclerosis (constriction of the blood vessels). Peanut butter has been used to induce atherosclerosis in animals (for research purposes). It usually only works if cholesterol levels are high, but it’s definitely something to be aware of.
So, we’ve looked at the good and the bad, and it’s time to answer the question: Is peanut butter healthy? The answer: Yes, but…
Yes, peanut butter is healthy. The high nutritional value makes it a useful addition to your diet, and it can help protect your heart, reduce your risk of diabetes, and promote feelings of satiety that will prevent you from overeating.
But, if you’re not careful, it can cause you to gain weight, and there is always the risk of allergy.
Understanding this will help you to keep peanut butter in its correct place on your menu!
Not certain peanut butter is the right spread for you? Looking for something with a slightly different (read: lower in fat, higher in nutrients) nutritional profile? Here are a few healthy alternatives to peanut butter:
Some other recent alternatives for peanut butter are Sunflower Seed Butter and Cookie Butter. Both are relatively easy to find, mostly right next to peanut butter in large chain grocery stores. Both have a nice nutty flavor and is smooth and easy to spread. You won’t even feel like you’re missing out peanut butter with these two!
Try these peanut butter alternatives if you want a healthy snack, or if you’re just looking to give your palate a break!