Peanut Butter Benefits
Found in three-fourths of the pantries across the U.S., peanut butter is truly an American staple. In this country alone, we consume about 700 million pounds of it every year! More than 50% of the peanuts grown are eaten in the form of peanut butter. And why not? Children know it as their favorite sandwich filling, adults use it as a savory addition to sauces and spreads, and everyone loves it paired with other indulgences in rich desserts. Although it began as a simple vegetarian protein alternative, peanut butter has many benefits and has become one of the most affordable, nutritious, and delicious food items available today!
Peanut Butter Nutrition
High in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, peanut butter can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of disease. Peanut butter is also an excellent source of plant protein. With about 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a small serving can make a significant contribution to daily protein intake. Peanut butter is a great substitution or alternative to meat products because it is much less expensive, it’s filling, and it contains fiber. Finally, peanut butter is jam-packed with hard-to-get nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, zinc, folate, and vitamin E, an antioxidant. Even phytochemicals–specifically, resveratrol–can be found in peanut butter.
Natural Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter: it’s all the rage these days. But what defines ‘natural’ peanut butter, exactly, and what is the difference between the all-natural label and the commercially produced? The Peanut Institute demystifies the terms for you here.
Did you know?
To be classified as real peanut butter, both traditional and “natural” types must contain a minimum of 90% peanuts, with no artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives. This includes the chunky version. Commercial peanut butters are blended or homogenized for convenience and creaminess, whereas “natural” peanut butters require stirring and are not as smooth in texture. Whether creamy or chunky, and traditional or natural, peanut butter nutrition remains the same though!
To stabilize traditional peanut butter blends and eliminate separation, manufacturers may add a small amount (less than 1-2%) of fully hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oils are not the same as partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats. In fact, most manufacturers do not use trans fats. One study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that a serving of peanut butter does not contain detectable levels of trans fats.1 For added flavor, some commercial brands may also add small amounts of sugar or salt. Even with these additions, changes in macronutrient content per serving compared to “natural” peanut butter are minimal.
The short story: even with these additions, changes in macronutrient content per serving compared to “natural” peanut butter are negligible. You can eat it here, you can eat it there; peanut butter is good anywhere.
1. Sanders, T.H. Non Detectable Levels of Trans-Fatty Acids in Peanut Butter. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2001;49:2349-51.