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.
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
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
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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.
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