Is peanut butter healthy?

What does a healthy portion of peanut butter look like, what type of fat does it contain, and how can you buy the best? Find out with our expert guide.

A jar of peanut butter

What is peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a spread that is made from ground, dry roasted peanuts. Commercially it is made by roasting the peanuts, blanching them in heat or water to remove their skins and then grinding them into a paste. At this point other flavours, oils or ingredients can be added to change its taste and texture. You can buy smooth or crunchy peanut butter.
 

Nutritional profile of peanut butter

Peanut butter is high in fat and calories, with one tablespoon containing around 115 calories. However, peanuts contain mostly unsaturated fats, which are the healthy kind. It does contain a little saturated fat, but one tablespoon contains only around 5% of an adult's recommended daily saturated fat intake. Peanuts are also a good source of vegetarian protein.

Peanuts contain an array of minerals including magnesium, iron and zinc, as well as the B vitamins and vitamin E.
 

What is a healthy portion size?

Around 2 tbsp a day is a good portion size, when eaten as part of a balanced and varied diet. Because peanut butter is high in calories, beneficial fats and protein, it can help keep you full for longer. There is no nutritional difference between smooth and crunchy peanut butter, so take your pick!

Some easy ways to add it to your diet include:

  • Stirring it into porridge
  • Adding it to a smoothie
  • Spreading on wholemeal toast and topping with banana
  • Dipping apple slices into peanut butter as a snack

A jar of peanut butter and jam overnight oats

How to buy the healthiest peanut butter

The best peanut butter varieties to buy are those that are as close to 100% peanuts as possible, so check the ingredients label before you buy. Many brands add extra ingredients such as oil, sugar and salt to enhance the flavour, but these also change the nutritional profile of the product. In particular, products which are marketed as 'reduced fat' may have added sugar to help them taste good.

With peanut butters growing in popularity in recent years, there are some different blends such as coconut and peanut butter, or blends that include pumpkin and sunflower seeds. These can be a tasty variation to try, but again, check the labels to make sure that they don't contain extra salts, sugars or preservatives in order to make the healthiest choice.
 

Healthy peanut butter recipes

Peanut butter overnight oats
Chilli chicken with peanut noodles
Baked peanut chicken with carrots & cucumber
Nutty chicken satay strips
Chilli chicken & peanut pies

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This article was published on 28th September 2018.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

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James Brooker's picture
James Brooker
6th Oct, 2018
I have stopped buying peanut butter since I discovered how incredibly easy it is to make. I buy unsalted peanuts, throw them in a processor along with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of honey, and peanut oil (for consistency), and whizz it up until I'm happy with it. Smooth or crunchy, it's as good as any shelf product. I keep it in the fridge to keep it fresh where it can go a bit hard, but it you take it out half an hour before eating it spreads perfectly.
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