13 Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

benefits of peanut butter

Have you heard of the health benefits of peanut butter?

It’s delicious and easy to prepare.

Most people like peanut butter, I included.

But, there’s often the question of whether it’s good for us.

Below we take a closer look at the nutritional value of this beloved food. And, learn more about its health benefits.

Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts

Peanut butter is made from, you guessed it, peanuts.

The peanuts are processed. Then oil, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added.

Most store-bought PB include other additives as well. This lengthens the product’s shelf-life.

Natural peanut butter meanwhile, is as close as you get to peanuts.

This is why anyone allergic to peanuts should avoid peanut butter. It contains real peanuts.

In the same manner, it’s also the peanuts that are responsible for its nutritional value.

Each serving of peanut butter contains a balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

  • You get 188 calories and 8 grams of protein.
  • Plus, 6 grams of carbs. Two of which are fiber. This small serving provides you with 16% of your daily fiber RDA.
  • Then there’s 16 grams of fat. Of which, all except 3.3 grams are saturated fat. The rest are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good fats.

 

Surprising Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

1. It Contains Monounsaturated Fat

peanut butter spread

Peanut butter helps people lose weight and protects the heart.

All this despite having a good amount of fat and calories.

Why?

It’s the monounsaturated fats (MUFA). That’s the good kind of fat.

Monounsaturated Fats

Of the 16 grams of total fat in peanut butter, half of it (8 grams) comes from monounsaturated fat.

It is this fat that makes olive oil, peanut oil and avocados good for the heart.

Monounsaturated fat helps protect against metabolic syndrome and heart disease risk.

It does this by lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk factors.

A review past research by the University of Manitoba shows that MUFA cuts the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

Monounsaturated fat promotes healthier blood lipid profiles (cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides). It also improves your insulin sensitivity, regulates blood pressure and glucose levels.

MUFA is why the Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest diets around.

 

2. Peanut Butter Cuts Your Risk of Heart Disease

heart health

Peanut butter like peanuts has a good amount of fat.

One 2 tablespoon serving gives us close to 25% of our daily fat requirements.

While we are often led to believe that fat is bad, the truth is, not all fat is bad.

Above, we saw that despite its high fat content, peanuts and peanut butter are good for weight loss.

It has the right kinds of fat that happen to be healthy for the heart. This helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research by the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center revealed that nut consumers had a lower body mass index (BMI). This was compared to non-nut eaters.

They also had smaller waist circumferences and better blood pressure.

Together, these factors lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

In another study, Loma Linda University went through a larger sample set. In all, they looked at over 31,000 related cases.

Results showed that people who ate nuts often had lower episodes of fatal and non-fatal heart disease.

 

3. It Contains a Good Amount of Protein

plate of peanuts

When you mention protein, you think about beef, chicken, pork and fish. At least, those are the first things that pop up.

Peanut butter may not offer as much protein per serving. But if does still have a good amount of it.

The best part, it comes in 2 small, delicious tablespoons.

For vegans and vegetarians, it’s a good non-meat source of protein.

A 2 tablespoon serving of peanut butter gives you 8 grams of protein. This makes it a good breakfast or snack choice.

To add more protein to your meal, have your PB&J or peanut butter sandwich with a glass of milk. This adds another 8 grams of protein.

Together, they give you about a third of your day’s protein RDA.

Note that the protein in peanut butter isn’t a complete one. It does not have all the essential amino acids.

This means adding other proteins to complement it is the way to go. Some good examples include milk, cheese or eggs. These will cover the other essential amino acids not found in PB.

 

4. Peanut Butter is High in Potassium

pb sandwichPotassium is one of the essential minerals needed by the body. Without it, the body won’t function properly.

This is why every time you go for your annual physical, your doctor will make you take this test.

The body needs potassium to keep your heart healthy. It plays a role in controlling the heart’s electrical activity. This allows the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Potassium also promotes nerve and muscle function. Your kidneys need them as well.

Studies show that high levels of potassium cut your risk of death by 20%. This includes death from any health related issue.

Peanut butter helps us by supplying our bodies with potassium.

Each serving has around 205 milligrams of potassium. This makes it a good source of the mineral.

Along with bananas (358 mg) and avocados (485 mg), peanut butter is a delicious way to get your potassium.

 

5. It Can Help with Weight Loss

spoon of peanut butterOne of the things that turn people off is that peanut butter is high in calories. One serving contains close to 200 calories.

One serving contains close to 200 calories.

So how does PB help you lose weight?

It’s the protein and dietary fiber in PB.

Together, the protein and fiber keep you feeling satisfied longer. This keeps you from craving unhealthy foods.

So, you eat less. And, you’re able to follow your meal plans. This helps anyone trying to lose weight.

The Harvard School of Public Health has a study that backs this up. They found that women who ate more peanuts during an 8 year period didn’t gain weight. In fact, the peanuts cut their risk of weight gain.

In another study, the Nutrition Journal shows how peanuts influence satiety. It found that frequent nut eaters had lower BMI.

 

6. It has Fiber

While it does not contain as much dietary fiber as beans or grains, peanut butter does have its share of fiber.

You get 2 grams of fiber with each serving slathered on your sandwich. This makes up around 7% of your daily fiber needs.

Most of us fall short of the daily fiber requirements.

As a guide, men below the age of 50 should get 38 grams of fiber daily. Women should get 25 grams.

The problem is, data from the Institute of Medicine tells another story. It shows that the average American only gets 15 grams of fiber daily. This falls way short of the recommended allowance.

Fiber is important for healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. It slows digestion. This way, your blood sugar doesn’t spike after eating. The slow acting nature of fiber also helps keep us full for longer periods. As a result, you don’t feel hungry soon after eating it.

To add to the fiber in peanut butter, try having it on whole grain bread. The 2 slices of bread adds another 4 grams of fiber.

 

7. It Contains Many Vitamins and Minerals

Peanut butter is often classified as “food for kids”.

As such, we tend to overlook its nutritional value.

A closer look at its nutrient data tells us that it has many vitamins and minerals we need.

Here’s a list of the main vitamins and minerals peanut butter has to offer.

In each 2 tablespoon serving we get:

  • Vitamin B6: 12% of daily RDA
  • Vitamin E: 2.9 mg (14% of daily RDA)
  • Niacin: 4.3 mg (21% of RDA)
  • Folate: 24 mg (6% of RDA)
  • Magnesium: 49 mg (12% of RDA)
  • Phosphorus: 115 mg (11% of RDA)
  • Manganese: 23% of RDA

 

8. It’s a Cheap Way of Getting Calories

Most of us exercise to keep the weight off.

But, there are a few people who have the opposite problem. They want to gain weight.

For anyone trying to gain weight, peanut butter is a cheap way to get some calories.

It takes a small amount of PB to get about 200 calories. With that, you get 8 grams of protein as well.

The best part is, each jar of peanut butter costs a few bucks. This makes it affordable for anyone on a budget.

 

9. Peanut Butter Helps Fight Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

person with dementia

The niacin in peanuts helps protect our brains from cognitive decline and illnesses.

Research tells us that niacin insufficiency increases your risk of dementia.

From 1993 to 2002, the CDC ran a study to see how diet affected cognitive change.

It found that niacin was inversely related to the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. This means low niacin levels have a link to the illness. High niacin meanwhile, helped reduce your risk.

In a related matter, you can also use peanut butter to test for Alzheimer’s disease. This works even in its early stages.

The test was discovered by University of Florida Health researchers.

Here, they tested patients by letting them smell 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Early stage Alzheimer’s patients had impaired sense of smell in their left nostril. They could only smell the peanut butter when it was closer by 10 cm. than they did with the right nostril.

 

10. Peanuts and Peanut Butter Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

blood glucose test

The unsaturated fats in peanut butter help regulate blood glucose.

By doing so, they help cut your risk of getting diabetes.

A large scale study by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition gives us some proof.

It learned that middle age women who ate more nuts had lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

A related study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition also looked at how nuts affect body weight and insulin resistance.

The results found that nuts helped regulate body weight. They somehow protected against type 2 diabetes as well.

The scientists attribute this benefit to the high caloric and fat content of peanuts.

 

11. It Can Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Colon and rectal cancers are among the leading types of cancers. They are often grouped together and referred to as colorectal cancers.

The National Cancer Institute notes that there were 132,700 new cases of colorectal cancers in 2015. This makes it the fourth highest occurring cancer. It only trails breast, prostate and lung cancer.

Problem is, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Lung cancer is number one.

This makes it more crucial to avoid getting this disease.

A long term study done by the China Medical University in Taiwan reveals that eating peanuts cuts your colorectal cancer risk.

The study ran for over 10 years. It had more than 12,000 men and close to 12,000 women participating.

The results tell us that eating peanuts at least twice a week significantly lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. With nuts, risk decreases by over 50% for women and 30% for men.

 

12. It Prevents Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits that form in the gallbladder.

They can become problematic and cause symptoms. These include pain, jaundice, and fevers. When the symptoms appear, you need to immediately see your doctor.

Many times, gallstones can be left alone. This is true if they don’t cause any symptoms.

Other times, they need surgery where the entire gallbladder has to be removed.

A study by the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows a link between eating nuts and gallstones.

Over a 20 year period, following over 80,000 participants, they found that one ounce of nuts a week lowers the risk of getting gallstones.

Avoiding gallbladder disease or at least reducing your risk can be as easy as eating peanut butter weekly.

 

13. It Reduces the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

cancer sign

Type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

This was why Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied the link between nuts and pancreatic cancer.

In past research, nuts helped prevent metabolic syndrome. This included cutting the risk for type 2 diabetes.

For the study, researchers went through the 75,000 participants included in the study.

They found that eating nuts regularly was inversely associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer.

 

How to Buy Peanut Butter

Not all peanut butter are the same.

And, we’re not talking about smooth or chunky here. Instead, we’re more concerned with their health benefits.

For the best option, go with natural or organic peanut butter.

Note that different brands have different formulations and ingredients. This makes it important to read the nutrition data on the back of the jar.

With natural or organic peanut butter, there is no sugar or hydrogenated fat included. This makes them healthier. You get the health benefits and avoid many bad ingredients.

Other things to check when choosing peanut butter are sodium and sugar. Each company uses different amounts of sodium and sugar. This lets them achieve the taste they want.

Often, the protein, fiber, and calories are similar. Even with different brands.

Quick Tips

Here is a quick bullet list to be aware of when choosing peanut butter:

jar of peanut butter

  • Go for natural or organic peanut butter. This means that there is none to very little unhealthy fats added to the product. Most regular commercial PB include other fats to help the product last longer.
  • Don’t worry about the amount fats and calories. Most of the time, the number of calories and percentage of fats will be the same among different brands.
  • Check the amount of sodium. Every brand has their own recipe. To get their specific taste they use sodium and sugar. For regular peanut butter, the sodium per serving can vary from as low as 40 mg all the way to 250 mg. This makes the sodium content worth a look. Organic PB have less.
  • Also check the sugar content. Sugar is the other additive that helps get the flavor the manufacturer wants. Some brands can have as much as twice the amount of others. This means be wary of the sweeter PB, even if it tastes better. It may not be healthy for you.

 

Peanut Butter Recipes

Bored of having PB on bread?

You’ll be happy to know there are a lot more foods you can enjoy with this snack favorite.

Here are 10 easy peanut butter recipes you can do at home. They’re all quick to make.

And, you can use a lot of the food and ingredients you already have at home. Enjoy!

 

Is Peanut Butter Bad for You?

We’ve seen the proven benefits of peanuts and peanut butter above.

But like all things there’s always the other side of the coin. Here are some factors to consider when eating peanut butter.

1. It Contains Saturated Fat

One of the first things that people argue against peanut butter is its saturated fat content. Peanut butter does contain saturated fat.

Every 2 tablespoons contain 16 grams of fat. Most of the fat is good fat. They come in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. But, there’s still around 3.3 grams of saturated fat there.

There’s good news about saturated fat, though. Recent studies have reversed the outlook on saturated fat.

New research tells us that this type of fat is actually healthier than once thought. Saturated fat has long been considered to be bad for health and bad for the heart.

New research says there’s no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

Studies have shown that people who ate saturated fat were actually healthier and lived longer than those who went on low fat diets.

These fats also helped increase good cholesterol and lower the risk of getting a stroke.

Yet, while we shouldn’t fear saturated fat, don’t go overboard with it. Enjoying peanut butter is fine. But, eating 10 tablespoonfuls every day is another thing.

In short, don’t overdo it.

2. There are Allergies and Allergic Reactions to Peanuts

sneezing runny noseIf you have any allergic reactions to peanuts then staying away from peanut butter is a must.

Peanut butter is made from peanuts.

The nuts are roasted and ground to get the smooth consistency. This means that you’ll trigger any peanut allergies by eating it.

Staying away from this food is the only way to be safe.

Peanut allergies are rare. Around half of 1 percent of Americans have it. If you do have it, it can be very irritating at least or dangerous at worst.

3. Aflatoxins

Among the issues against peanut butter is what’s called Aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins are toxic to humans. But we are resistant to them in the short term. The effects of having a lot of it over the long term, however, is still unknown.

Peanuts are grown under the ground. In that environment, they are susceptible to the Aspergillus fungus. This is a source of Aflatoxins.

For safety, the USDA regulates, monitors and limits the amount of aflatoxins in peanut butter. If a brand goes over the limits, they aren’t allowed in stores.

The processing the peanuts go through also improves safety. This cuts the amount of aflatoxins present once they’re in the jar as a smooth paste.

 

What is Peanut Butter and How is it Made?

peanuts

In its natural form, roasting peanuts and grinding to a paste makes peanut butter.

Most peanut butter we see in store shelves are different.

They’ll include extra sugar and other ingredients. At times, they may be enriched with Omega-3 or other nutrients.

Here is how peanut butter is made:

  • The peanuts are collected and delivered to a manufacturing facility. Each brand has their own methods, and where they source their peanuts.
  • The peanuts are then inspected for quality. The poor quality ones are discarded.
  • The next step involves the peanuts being oven roasted. This helps bring out the flavor in them. Each brand has their own roasting formula. This is why each PB label has a different flavor and color.
  • The peanuts are then cooled.
  • Once cooled, skin is removed, then sorted and split. Manufacturers usually have a machine called a blancher to remove the skin.
  • The next step involves grounding the peanuts into the consistency. Chunky versions go through less grounding. Smooth PB gets reduce further.
  • When the right consistency is achieved, salt, sugar and other ingredients are added. This is to get the taste they want.

How Peanut Butter is Made

Below is a video goes through the process of making peanut butter we explained above.

 

How to Make Healthy Peanut Butter at Home

Okay. You’re not a fan of store bought peanut butter.

Or, you may not like the ones you find in your local supermarket.

There’s a better, healthier way to enjoy this delicious food. Make it yourself.

Store bought jars often contain a lot of sugars. They also have a few extra ingredients you may not like your family to be consuming.

Making your own homemade peanut butter lets you to control the ingredients that go into each jar. You can also adjust the flavor the way you like it.

Here’s a quick and simple video tutorial on how to make peanut butter at home.

 

Peanut Butter FAQs

peanut butter sandwich snack

I remember back when I just picked up any jar of peanut butter.

Back then, I never bothered to look at the nutrition label or the ingredients.

All I used to look at was the brand, size of the jar and whether it was smooth or chunky.

Over time, I noticed that there’s more to this tasty treat.

This section is for anyone who has the same questions about peanut butter I did.

We include some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about peanut butter and their answers. We’ve also

  • included interesting peanut butter facts and
  • things you never knew about them.

What’s the difference between Crunchy and Smooth (or Creamy)?

The two are similar in that they pretty much use the same process. The main difference is texture.

Chunky (or crunchy) peanut butter has larger pieces of peanuts. The creamy version has a smoother texture.

The difference happens during the grounding process.

Here, the machine stops at a certain point for the crunchy version. For the smooth version it continues to ground the peanuts to a finer consistency.

Some brands will mix in bigger pieces of peanuts at the end of processing for their chunky versions.

What’s the difference between natural peanut butter and the regular peanut butter?

Natural peanut butter is healthier than regular peanut butter. The reason is they do not contain a stabilizer.

Manufacturers use a stabilizer to keep vegetable oil in solid form at room temperature. This is what lets regular peanut butter maintain its consistency (solid form).

Problem is, stabilizers contain trans fat. These are unhealthy fats you want to avoid.

For this reason, regular peanut has a small amount of trans fat. The trans fat makes it less healthy than natural peanut butter.

Natural peanut butters lack the stabilizer. This is why they can produce oil separation.

Oil separation is when the oil “floats up” to the top of the jar.

One way to prevent this from happening with natural peanut butters is to refrigerate them.

Does peanut butter contain trans fat?

Regular peanut butter does have some trans fat in it. But, there is very little in most brands.

Still, it is often worthwhile to check the product label to make sure.

You will also often see most brands show zero trans fat. That’s because they fall under the labeling guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this case, small amounts up to a certain level will be listed as zero in the label.

Trans fat comes about through a process called hydrogenation. This is used to make vegetable oils (which are liquid) into solid. This helps peanut butter stay in its solid form.

During the processing of peanut butter, stabilizers with hydrogenated oils are used.

Is peanut butter gluten-free?

This will depend on the brand of peanut butter you’re looking at.

Most commercial peanut butters will have no gluten in them.

To make sure always check for any of the ingredients that may contain gluten. These include oats, barley or wheat in the jar’s ingredient list.

What does the “Best by Date” label on the jar mean?

The “Best by Date” label helps us consumers know that we should have finished the product by that date.

The manufacturer guarantees the product’s taste, quality and flavor up to that time.

For peanut butter, the shelf life is often 18 months from the day of it is manufactured.

How long is Peanut Butter’s Shelf Life?

Shelf life refers to the duration in which the product is good for consumption or is still usable.

To be safe, throw away goods that have gone past their shelf life. There’s more to this, but for now we’ll leave it at that.

Most peanut butter have a shelf life of the standard 18 months from the day they are manufactured. At the end of this 18 month period is the “best by date”.

When unopened, some brands will last up to 2 years (24 months).

Note that shelf life can vary by manufacturer. An easy way to know when it expires is to look at the “best by date” stamp on the jar.

How should I store Peanut Butter?

You can store peanut butter can at room temperature.

One important thing is to keep the lid closed.

Leaving the lid open and letting it get exposed to air or very warm temperatures can change its texture and flavor. This can also cause the oil to separate.

Another tip is not to put the jar of peanut butter in the freezer or other places with very cold temperatures. If you do this, it can change its thickness and consistency.

Does Peanut Butter need to be refrigerated?

Leaving peanut butter at room temperature is okay. If you live in warm to very warm climates, you may keep it in the refrigerator.

Depending on how cold the your refrigerator is, it may make the PB hard.

Freezing peanut butter is not recommended.

Why are some jars marked with Omega-3? Do they have fish in them?

Some brands feature peanut butters that are enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids.

To make these, manufacturers often use fish oil in capsule form. This lets them get the most out of the DHA and EPA nutrients.

Omega-3 enriched peanut butter don’t have any fishy taste.

You should avoid jars labeled with Omega-3 if you have any allergies to fish oil.

Summary

Peanut butter has long been considered unhealthy and fattening. This is due to the saturated fat it contains.

Recent research has disproved this.

A closer look tells us that PB contains some nutrition. There are many vitamins and minerals in it beneficial to health.

Plus, it can help you lose weight and avoid heart disease.

The health benefits of peanut butter make it something we can enjoy with less of the guilt. It is delicious, and contains many nutritional components that help our bodies.

Of course, as long as you eat in moderation.