By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Is peanut butter good for health? Is peanut butter healthy? If you want the scoop about if eating peanut butter is good for you, read on. Also find out the best peanut butter for weight loss!
peanut butter and jelly. The oh-so-sticky sticky combo was for sure a lunchtime staple in my childhood—and probably yours, too! And yet, I bet you question whether you should be eating peanut
butter. In fact, I got so many reader messages about my
take on peanut
butter's nutrition that I knew I had to dive deeper into the topic!
So whether you're Team Crunchy or Team Creamy (I'm Team Both!), keep on reading to find out if you should continue chowing down those PB&Js—or if you should switch to a different nut butter.
The Truth: Is Peanut Butter Good for You?
Guess what I had for breakfast today? Oatmeal with PB and bananas. And it was delicious. Is peanut butter healthy? Let's take a look.
If you want to know the benefits of including peanut butter in your diet, here you go. In a review study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked into intake of peanut butter (the plain kind), tree nuts (such as walnuts and almonds), as well as legumes (beans, peas, lentils and tofu).
The study authors reviewed 27 studies and came up with some pretty cool findings: Nuts, when eaten in moderation, may help
lower your risk of both ischemic heart disease (IHD, aka coronary artery disease) and type 2 diabetes. Legumes may also help decrease your risk of IHD. So there you go: Consuming peanut
butter can help reduce your risk of heart disease, aka cardiovascular disease!
The researchers found that having four weekly 1-ounce servings of nuts and nut butter was linked with a 24 percent decreased risk of fatal IHD and a 13% lowered risk of diabetes.
Similarly, eating four weekly 3-ounce servings of legumes was associated with a 14% lesser risk of IHD. Researchers believe
that nuts may protect heart health by helping to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. Nuts boast mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which provide heart-health benefits and
Plus, foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (aka PUFAs) have many other health benefits. For one, they may help you lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol, which might help decrease your risk of heart disease. And other studies have shown an association between higher intakes of omega-3 ALA and omega 6 PUFAs and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome risk factors. This includes a study in the journal Nutrition.
The study authors asked a random sample of adults about their usual eating habits and food choices to highlight these connections.
If you didn’t know, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three specific conditions occurring at the same time—including high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, low HDL “good” cholesterol, high triglycerides, and a larger waistline—that may put you at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and possibly type 2 diabetes. Walnuts, flaxseeds, grapeseed oil, and sunflower seeds are other foods that provide PUFAs.
The good news? Eating peanut butter can even help you lose weight in the sense that it can help keep you fuller for longer so that you may eat less during meal and snacking occasions.
Just like other healthy fats such as olive oil, eating nuts (including peanut butter) helps you obtain good sources of healthy fats. Nuts also contain protein (hello, amino acids!), and that combo of monounsaturated fats and protein helps keep you satiated.
I choose my peanut butter carefully, because not all peanut butters are the same. Are peanuts good for weight loss? Just how healthy the spread is for you depends on its ingredients and your portion size. Not sure what I mean?
Check out the article I wrote for Food Network, in which I break down the nutritional deets of peanut butter and give you the scoop on how much you should actually be eating of the tree nut. (Hint: It's not as much as you'd think!)
Also, when you're shopping for peanut butter, it's best to choose PB with as few ingredients as possible. That means you don't even need added oils (and certainly not any hydrogenated oils or unsustainable palm oil!). And of course, if you have peanut allergies you'll want to skip the peanut butter!
The Best Peanut Butter for Weight Loss
Plan on eating peanut butter soon? Here are five healthy nut butters:
- Justin's Honey Peanut Butter
- Spread the Love NAKED Organic Peanut Butter
- Crazy Richard's Creamy Peanut Butter
- Smucker's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter
- Laura Scudder's Old Fashioned Natural Nutty Peanut Butter
P.S. I have a list of more veggie superfoods for you!
Is Almond Butter or Peanut Butter Healthier?
Since almond butter has a higher price tag, it has to be way more nutritious than peanut butter, right? Well, that thinking isn't entirely true. To help you decide if you should spend those extra bucks on the almond spread, I wrote up a Food Network article comparing the two nut butters and the different vitamins and minerals they boast.
Plus, I share the one thing you should always avoid when purchasing either of the schmears. Want to know more about heart-healthy fats?
Amy's Recipe to Try
Blend up this drink: Blueberry Peanut Butter Smoothie!
I love an ice-cold smoothie not only because it's delish but because it's a balanced meal in a glass that takes just seconds to make. This Instagram-worthy drink is one of my fave ways to add a healthy portion of nut butter to my day.
Plus, it's packed with protein and fiber and contains healthy fats to keep you full all morning long (thank you, PB!). Just be careful not to eat too many spoonfuls of the nut butter while you're blending. ;) Looking for almond butter recipes? Take a few minutes to whip up a batch of my almond butter protein balls.
This blog post was updated in June 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
- Consumption of Nuts and Legumes and Risk of Incident Ischemic Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Association Between Interaction and Ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid and the Metabolic Syndrome in Adults, Nutrition
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