Most people tend to think of peanut butter and other nut butter as treats. Treats that only the better placed amongst us in society can enjoy. It is that fancy thing that you apply on one side of the bread, mix it with jelly because that’s what the USA does and then relish it for a snack or sometimes as a part of your tiffin [especially if you’re school or college going].
It also forms an integral part of recipes that hobby and professional bakers put together ever so often. Cookies, brownies, smoothies, chocolates, the list is endless because the flavour is not only delicious, it is also very cohesive with a lot of other baked goods that help to make one rather delicious desert.
The perception about peanut butter, almond butter and other nut butter is only now changing. People have stopped viewing it as an indulgence or a child-friendly treat any more. With food science slowly and surely becoming more pronounced and with fitness becoming a way of life rather than a marketing gimmick, there has recently been a sharp and much welcome focus on superfoods. These are foods which when consumed correctly have the nutrition to help transform your body from unhealthy and sluggish to healthy and inherently fit.
Popping a superfood heavy diet will not give you instant six-pack abs, neither will it help you “drop those last 5 pounds”. It will, however, help you build a stronger immunity and a fitter system that will leave you in good stead for the rest of your life. Peanut Butter is also part of that superfood grouping. So let’s understand what actually goes into transforming this treat from indulgent and extravagant to being an integral part of a nutritious and healthy diet.
A] Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts
Peanut Butter is classified as a superfood because of the many super nutritional elements that go into making a jar of this delicious, smooth, creamy and healthy spread. Take a look at these peanut butter nutrition facts.
Yes, a well-made spread is usually very rich in protein and usually contains 7.02 grams of macromolecule per 2-tbsp of servings. This helps to fulfill the required and necessary counts of 46 grams and 56 grams for women and men respectively. While these counts vary by age, gender and activity levels, the amount of protein in peanut butter goes a long way in helping you reach your daily protein target, especially, if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
Magnesium is another important nutrient that the body needs to be replenished with correctly and regularly. With fifty-seven milligrams of Magnesium, every serving helps towards the required daily intake of 400–420 mg in men and 310–320 in women. Magnesium, as a nutrient, is important for health because it plays a part in forming over three hundred chemical processes and reactions within the human body.
Peanut Butter is also known to be rich in phosphorus. Phosphorus helps the body to create healthy cells and bones and helps cells to provide energy. A serving of peanut butter usually contains 107 milligrams of phosphorus, which is equivalent to 3% of the required daily intake of 700 milligrams for adults.
Hard to believe, isn’t it, that your favourite spread actually has metallic properties to it as well. But zinc is an imperative nutrient that helps the body boost immunity, macromolecule synthesis, and deoxyribonucleic acid formation. A serving of peanut butter provides 0.85 milligrams of zinc. This might not seem much, but it counts for 7.7 % of the counselled daily intake of eleven milligrams for men, and 10.6 % of eight milligrams for women.
Niacin is one of those elements on the periodic table which very few would have heard of on their dining tables. Its core advantages lie in facilitating digestion, a better operation for the nerve structure in the body, and in the manufacturing of energy for daily use. Peanut butter contains 4.21 mg of B vitamin per serving, which makes a helpful contribution towards the counselled intake of fourteen to sixteen milligrams per person.
➢ Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 may be one of the lesser-known and lesser-discussed proteins when you’re being all active at the gym or the pool, but it most certainly has its uses. B-6 plays a job in over one hundred protein reactions within the body and is deemed necessary for heart and system health. A serving of peanut butter has close to 14% of an adult’s daily requirement of 1.3 milligrams.
Potassium is one of the nutrients that our body requires to maintain the balance between the fluids and minerals. It also facilitates the functions of muscle cells in the heart. A person must at least consume 3,500-4,700 mg potassium daily. People with Hypokalemia, low potassium levels need to increase their potassium intake. Peanut butter, being a rich source of Potassium, contains 649 mg potassium per 100g. To put in simpler terms, eating two tablespoons of peanut butter will be equal to consuming 210 mg of potassium.
Now that we’ve told you about peanut butter nutrition, let’s look at how best to assimilate peanut butter into your daily routine in a way that it becomes a part of a healthy diet and not just a treat or an indulgence.
B] Things To Know About Peanut Butter
With the variety in the market today, we have gathered a few things that you should know before choosing your favourite peanut butter.
As with many processed foods, food manufacturers use sugar to add sweetness and longer shelf life to food products. We are all familiar with the health problems caused by added sugar. It’s a primary culprit behind obesity, a heart condition, Alzheimer’s, and practically every other major chronic disease of our times. And it’s not found just in doughnuts and candy. A surprising amount of sugar within the modern diet is snuck in as an additive to foods.
But there is a way out!
Look for brands that do not use refined or added sugar. If the ingredient list does not contain ‘sugar’ or sugar substitutes such as ‘maltose’ or ‘high fructose corn syrup’ – that’s the one you should be going for. Pure, unadulterated peanut butter contains all the health benefits that one should be getting from Peanut Butter!
Very often spreads are loaded with salt to add taste and preserve the freshness. While a slight bit of added salt is absolutely all right, some salted spreads can carry up to 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon! If you use spreads often and need to scale back your sodium intake, search for unsalted versions. For those that contain salt, look for the sodium content in the nutrition chart.
While peanut butter contains a high concentration of heart-healthy fats i.e. the good kind of unsaturated fat, it also often contains a chunk of saturated fat from the added oils. Some spread brands use a high volume of fully hydrogenated oil, which has been linked to several health problems.
Look for a spread that does not contain any added oil. A sign of pure peanut butter is the layer of oil floating on top of the jar when you open it. This means that the natural oil of the peanut has separated due to the absence of any added hydrogenated oil. This natural oil can easily be mixed back in to give you a healthy and pure spread.
Here’s a nutty fact: peanuts don’t actually grow on trees or bushes. They grow underground.
Peanuts grow best in hot climates, which suggests they’re at heightened risk of containing aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are a gaggle of poisons that are produced by fungi in humid conditions. Other foods in danger of holding aflatoxins include corn, figs, cereals, cottonseed, and tree nuts.
So, how does one choose a spread with the least amount of aflatoxins?
Go with brands that are known for hygiene and quality. Simply choose a spread produced by a well-known company and one that contains only peanuts (and/or salt) as ingredients. And as a side note, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found some evidence that certain plant compounds could also be ready to counteract the negative effects of aflatoxins.
✔ Oil Separation
While we touched upon this previously, many myths surround the oil that is often found floating over peanut butter. This oil is a good sign and signifies a natural quality of the peanut butter. The oil layer, while it may be thick, can easily be mixed back in to give a fresh and natural peanut butter.
This oil, in no way, means that the peanut butter is bad or old. It simply means that there is no added hydrogenated oil and that the product is natural and usually contains just a few ingredients.
Another reason to avoid peanut butter with added hydrogenated oil? Rapeseed, soybean, or vegetable oil are a number of the foremost commonly used, and therefore, the majority of those crops are genetically modified or grown using harmful pesticides.
C] Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
These informative peanut butter benefits shed light on the multiple reasons why peanut butter is good for health.
➢ Shed the Pounds (Weight Loss): Having a daily dose of peanuts through peanut butter helps you to better manage hunger pangs and keeps you relatively full. This results in you not overeating too much and hence arrests the weight gain process.
➢ The Good Fats: There is good fat and the not so good fat, and the fat content in peanut butter is wholesome mono-unsaturated fat, which is supposed to be the best kind of fat for your body.
Further reading: Fats: The Good vs The Bad.
Further reading: Fats: The Good vs The Bad
➢ Heart Happy: Peanut Butter has an atomic number of 19, which is a macromolecule that lowers the chance of high force per unit area, stroke and cardiopathy.
➢ Fiber Viber (High-Fiber): Peanut Butter is a high fibrous food which helps with viscus health, healthy fats, and magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, and antioxidants.
➢ Energy Booster: When consumed in sensible doses, the amount of healthy fats and macromolecule in peanut butter ensures that you are consuming calories which will soon turn to much-needed energy to better your body.
➢ Pumping Proper (Enhance Blood Circulation): Peanut butter is known to be great for better blood circulation. It’s inherent supply of iron, magnesium, and atomic number 19 helps the body maintain the correct blood flow while circulating blood to different organs.
➢ Lowers blood pressure: Peanut butter’s healthy dose of potassium has proven to be beneficial in reducing blood pressure levels. Excessive salt consumption has been linked directly to increasing blood pressure levels. The potassium in food, such as peanut butter, balances the ill-effects of the high salt diet, reducing the blood pressure.
➢ Reduces the risk of developing diabetes: The Glycemic index gives us a ranking of carbohydrates and how it affects the blood glucose level in the body. Consumption of food with a low glycemic index, such as peanut butter with GI=14, reduces the risk of diabetes and has also proven useful for people who already have diabetes.
➢ Lowers the risk of cancer: One of the benefits of eating peanut butter, it lowers the risk of cancer. At least three studies have backed this fact with one confirming that three servings of peanut butter per week are associated with reducing the risk of developing colorectal and breast cancer.
➢ Helps fight stress: Beta-sitosterol is a phytosterol that helps lower and maintains cortisol levels. This cortisol is also commonly known as the stress hormone. Consumption of peanut butter that contains this phytosterol can help regulate stress hormones, thereby reducing stress.
➢ Improves your sleep: Peanut butter contains a small amount of tryptophan, which helps people relax. Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases the serotonin levels in a person’s body. Eating two tablespoons of peanut butter before going to bed has improved sleep and even cured insomnia for some.
➢ Prevents Gallstones: Daily regulated consumption of peanut butter(one teaspoon) can reduce the risk of gallstone. It is peanut butter’s high magnesium content that improves insulin sensitivity, which in turn reduces the risk of gallstone.
➢ Improves skin health: Peanut butter is chock full of nutrition, protein, and vitamins. Vitamin E works on slowing down ageing, whereas the antioxidant content of peanut butter improves skin health by smoothing the fine lines and wrinkles.
➢ Promotes healthier bones: Peanut butter’s many nutrients work together to promote bone health. One tablespoon of peanut butter (16 g) contains 6.9 mg of calcium and 0.3 mg of iron. Both calcium and iron are essential in improving bone health. Vitamin K also helps in the circulation of calcium throughout the body. It’s magnesium content also facilitates the formation of healthy bones and teeth. The protein content further helps build stronger muscles.
➢ Healthy option for pregnant women: Peanut butter contains a healthy amount of folate, a manufactured folic acid, a dietary supplement. Pregnant women are required to take 0.4 milligrams folic acid tablets every day before pregnancy up to their 12th week of pregnancy. It helps prevent birth-defects and also facilitates a healthy development of the fetus.
➢ Helps combat fatigue and boost productivity: Daily intake of one-two tablespoons of Peanut butter can help start your day with plenty of energy and take away any lack of focus. It can also help you overcome fatigue, muscle cramps, or headaches, which will lead to a more productive day.
➢ Strong immune system: Zinc and Vitamin B-6, are two peanut butter nutrients that work together to boost our immune system, protecting our body from infections, and lowers the risk of contracting any contagious disease. Two-tablespoon daily consumption of peanut butter can help you keep these diseases at bay.
➢ Keeps your brain healthy: Peanut Butter has Resveratrol, a bioactive that improves blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of stroke. As we have seen, it wards off any fatigues making your brain alert. Peanut Butter’s Niacin and vitamin E content promotes long term brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. It also helps with most cognitive diseases, which are a result of increasing age.
Find out how natural peanut butter can aid you in living a healthy life, read these additional advantages of peanut butter.
D] Different Ways to Use Peanut Butter
So before you get all excited about consuming large portions of peanut butter, it’s only fair that we remind you to please regulate its intake in your diet. Do bear in mind that only two tablespoons of peanut butter amount to 200 calories at a time. Instead, try to follow these eating tips below to not just get your daily peanut butter fix, but also keep it a healthy and interesting option in your diet as well.
➢ On a Sandwich: We cannot possibly ask you to eat peanut butter and deprive you of the classic PB&J sandwich. However, we can counsel you on making it with either whole fruit or a low sugar jelly, and with whole-grain bread to make this indulgence guilt-free as well.
➢ As a Topping: Spreading a proportionately generous layer on some yummy rice cakes and adding some fresh banana slices, makes for a delightful dessert. And if the usage of ingredients is moderated, it makes for a healthy and nutritious bite to eat too.
➢ As a Dressing: No Thai recipe is ever complete without the use of peanuts. Go totally Masterchef on your family by whipping up a Thai peanut dressing for salads, with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey to go with a spoonful of decadent peanut butter.
➢ As a Smoothie: This one’s easy. Use a dollop of peanut butter to add substance to your morning or workout smoothie. High in protein and other important nutrients, this will fit into most prescribed diet plans.
➢ As a Dip: Yup. Plain, simple, hassle free and delicious. Forgot to add nutritious to that list. Apple or pear slices taste a whole lot better when they are dipped into a little peanut butter.
➢ As an Accompaniment: Peanut Butter works as a wonderful accompaniment to healthy bowls of food such as oatmeal, yoghurts and porridge. It adds the exotic flavour that you crave while also providing a boost of healthy and nutritious elements to your meal.
We have also listed below some of the best, healthiest and most nutritional accompaniments that you can pair your daily dose of peanut butter with. Take a look.
● With A cup of milk
● With bread as breakfast
● As a pre and post workout snack
● With cookies
● With bananas
● With oats
● With fudge
● With apple
● With hummus