Peanut butter is one of those delicious foods that most people remember from their childhood. You even see parents (usually single parents) making it for their children’s lunches on movies. So naturally, the question presents itself – is it possible that this tasty spread could actually be good for me?
The short answer, is YES … but sometimes, no.
There are two qualifiers, which we’ll now explain in detail:
1. It depends on what type of peanut butter you buy.
2. It depends on what other foods you mix it with.
Peanut butter is no longer limited to being a children’s lunchbox staple. Adults all over the world are finding a renewed love for the smooth and crunchy varieties and for very good reason. This thick, nutty spread is not just a treat for your tastebuds, but also for your health. It’s extremely versatile as well; you can either add a spoonful of it along with a banana and some milk for your breakfast smoothie or pair it with sliced apples for an afternoon snack.
However, there are also a few downsides to eating too much peanut butter on a regular basis.
Let’s take a closer look at why eating peanut butter is so good for you, and what it can do if you go overboard or consume the wrong brands.
7 Amazing Things Peanut Butter Can Do For Your Body
Here are a few reasons why your body will thank you for incorporating peanut butter into your diet.
1. It Helps Your Healthy Heart
Peanuts have a very healthy fat profile which includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are also extremely rich in antioxidants and nutrients like potassium that aid in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Along with being an excellent source of heart-healthy phytosterols, peanut butter is also a very good source of dietary fiber. All of this works as a team to suppress your “bad cholesterol” and triglyceride levels, in turn, lowering the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
2. It Keeps You Full For Longer
The high levels of fiber, nutrients, and unsaturated fats contained in peanut butter give your digestive system a lot of work to do and can help keep you full for longer. You can stop yourself from overeating just by eating a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Stick to a healthy serving size of 2 tablespoons and you’re good to go!
3. It Boosts Your Energy Levels
The high fiber, protein, and healthy fat content in peanut butter makes it the perfect food to eat to kickstart your day. Including it in your mid-afternoon snack acts as an instant pick-me-up, and since it helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, you won’t need to worry about suffering from energy crashes later on in the day!
4. It Can Help You Lose Weight
Peanuts contain a much higher level of protein as compared to other nuts – approximately 8 grams in 2 tablespoons. This, along with the high fiber and healthy fat content, keeps you full for a long time. You won’t find yourself suffering from irregular hunger pangs that tempt you to reach out for empty calories like cream puffs or donuts. This means at the end of the day, you’ll have a much lower calorie intake, thus leading you to lose weight successfully.
5. It Can Boost Brain Power
Protein foods like peanut butter get converted to amino acids, such as tyrosine, on consumption. These travel to your brain to boost your dopamine and epinephrine levels, two major neurotransmitters that aids in mental alertness and packs a healthy energy punch. Sending your kids off to school with some good quality peanut butter in them, can help make their day.
6. It Can Help You Fight Stress
Peanut butter contains beta-sitosterol, a plant-based sterol that can normalize high cortisol levels in your body to balance them out with other hormones during times of high stress. This action, along with increased levels of dopamine, is greatly beneficial in calming your nerves and combating anxiety.
7. It Can Fight Toxins And Promote Bone Health
Peanuts are high in healthy fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats aid in the effective absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like E and K by the body. Vitamin E protects your health against air pollution and also provides relief from premenstrual syndrome. It also helps fight cataracts and staves off neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Vitamin K is an essential mineral that aids in normal blood clotting. Most importantly, it promotes the transport of calcium throughout your body, which is vital for building strong bones and teeth.
So you liked the good news? Great! But like anything, you can have “too much of a good thing” and this turns it into a bad thing. So what you’re about to read, is a warning against over-indulging.
4 Potentially Harmful Effects Of Eating Peanut Butter
While peanut butter is packed with nutrients and healthy fats, eating too much may reverse the benefits and cause some very troublesome side effects. Not only that but with so many brands of peanut butter available today, it’s very easy to pick out the wrong variety that’s likely to cause you more harm than good.
Some of these side effects include the following:
1. It Can Make You Gain Weight
Peanut butter can help you lose weight, but if you pair it with the wrong foods, it may do exactly the opposite. When you consume peanut butter with white bread or artificially produced jellies, you neutralize its health benefits. Also, certain brands of processed peanut butter are full of unhealthy preservatives and too much salt. They are high in hydrogenated oil content that can be extremely damaging to your health. In the case of low-fat peanut butter, you have to be just as careful for most of the times, manufacturers add too much sugar.
To make the best use of your peanut butter especially if you’re trying to lose weight, be mindful of the serving size. You could also pair it with fruit slices, banana smoothies, whole grain crackers or bread, or even combine it with some whole grain granola.
2. It Can Cause Inflammation
Peanuts are rich in omega-6 fats, which are responsible for the production of inflammatory mediators in your body. Because peanuts lack in omega-3 fat content which would normally help counteract that inflammation, eating too much peanut butter can be harmful to your health and immunity. The best thing you can do in this case is to include plenty of dietary omega-3 in your meals in the form of salmon, ‘oily’ fish, flaxseed oil, or chia seeds. If you like “crunchy” you could even add some chia seeds to your “all natural” peanut butter.
3. It Can Damage Your Cells
Processed peanut butter is usually made using hydrogenated vegetable oils as emulsifiers for a more appealing consistency. These are “damaged fats” that enter your cellular membrane to displace the healthier ones, thus leading to inflammation and making it very difficult for your hormones to interact with your cells. Over time, this will cause various systems in your body to function ineffectively and will ultimately damage your cell health. For this reason, seek out only good quality, organic peanut butter that contains 100% natural peanut ingredients.
4. It Can Affect Your Sperm Count
As mentioned earlier, it’s good to be aware of certain brands of store-bought peanut butter. Some farmers tend to go a little too heavy on the pesticides. Because peanuts have a very thin shell, the harmful chemicals from these pesticides can easily travel inside to the actual peanuts that are used in making your peanut butter. Pesticide exposure has been known to cause infertility in men and may even lead to birth defects. To be on the safer side, always make sure to buy the organic variety.
While the numerous health benefits of peanut butter outweigh its side effects, it’s still good to be conscious of how much you eat in a day and what ingredients go into your jar. Eating too much of anything is bad for your health, but pairing it with the right foods in just the right amount can do wonders for your body and your immunity.
If you’re buying store-bought peanut butter, do some research about potentially harmful ingredients, and if possible, consult a nutritionist for information on how to read labels. Or if you want to avoid all the trouble, just stick to the organic variety.