Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE Peanut butter. I always have a jar on the go and I always have a back up jar in the cupboard so I don’t run out. To me it goes perfectly with honey and I would happily eat it EVERY DAY but, I have learnt to restrain myself and eat it every OTHER day 😛
I am often asked if it is healthy to consume peanut butter. It can often be confusing reading the labels and trying to decide what brand or types of peanut butter to buy. So as I sit here eating some peanut butter (hmmm) I thought I would put together some information on what makes peanut butter so good and tips on choosing which peanut is best to buy.
The star of Peanut Butter is the main ingredient: Peanuts
As the name implies you would think that peanuts are a nut but they are actually a legume belonging in the same family as peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans.
Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fats (perfect for heart health), antioxidants, high in protein and a great source of vitamin E, B3, folate and manganese. Research conducted on the antioxidant polyphenols found in peanuts uncovered that roasting peanuts increases the polyphenols (p-coumaric acid) levels boosting the overall antioxidant content by 22% thus increasing their heart health benefits.
Due to peanuts high fat content it is easy to believe that regular consumption of nuts can lead to weight gain. A 2007 prospective study assessing the association of nut consumption (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts) and weight gain discovered that participants that consumed nuts up to 2 times per week had a significantly lower risk of gaining weight. This is thought to be due to nuts being high in protein and fibre. Diets high in both protein and fibre promote satiety, aiding in the prevention of weight gain.
Getting back to the delicious creamy goodness that is Peanut Butter
The earliest reference to peanut butter can be traced back to the Ancient Aztecs and Incas who grounded roasted peanuts into a paste. In the late 19th Century Dr John Harvey Kellogg (yes, the inventor of corn flakes) created a ground up peanut paste and prescribed it as a nutritious high protein, low carbohydrate food to his patients that had no teeth.
I am not going to bore you with the whole history of peanut butter but as production and manufacturing has changed over the years added ingredients such as sugar, oils, salt and preservatives have crept into the product that we consume today.
Choosing what Peanut Butter to purchase
Below is a list of some examples of the different ingredient lists of peanut butters that can be found on the shelves in the supermarket.
- Freshly roasted peanuts (90%), sugar, vegetable oils, salt, stabiliser (mono and diglycerides).
- Freshly roasted peanuts (100%).
- Roasted peanuts (65%), maltodextrin (from tapioca), sugar, vegetable oil (antioxidant (320)), salt, emulsifier (471)
- Roasted peanuts (88%), sugar, peanut oil, vegetable emulsifier (471), salt
- Roasted peanuts (89.5%), chia seeds (10%), salt
As you can see there are many combinations of ingredients with different percentages of peanuts and other added ingredients. So which one should I choose to by you might ask? At the end of the day it comes down to taste preference but my tips for choosing the healthiest peanut butter is to look for a peanut butter made from:
- 100% organic roasted peanuts
- No added sugar, oils or preservatives
Some of the many ways to Enjoy Peanut butter
- Spread it with banana and honey on toast or a rice cake.
- Add it to a banana and berry smoothie (See recipe below)
- Fill celery sticks
- Baked into cookies and muffins
- Mixed into protein balls
I will leave you with one of my favourite smoothie combinations containing peanut butter.
PB & J Smoothie
1tbsp nut butter (almond or peanut)
1/2 cup frozen berries
1 cup almond or rice milk
1/4 cup rolled oats
Add all ingredients to the blender and blend well.
Bes-Rastrollo et al 2007, ‘Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study’, Obesity, vol.15 , no.1, pp. 107-16.
Food and Nutrition Australia, Product review: peanut butter, viewed 19 January 2017, <http://www.foodnut.com.au/product-review-peanut-butter/w1/i1010070/>.
National Peanut Board, Who invented peanut butter? viewed 19 January 2017, <http://nationalpeanutboard.org/peanut-info/who-invented-peanut-butter.htm>.
Peanuts, Worlds healthiest foods, viewed 19 January 2017, <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=101#historyuse>.