healthy food

Is peanut butter good for you? How it can help you lose weight, manage blood sugar levels, and boost your protein intake

Peanut butter
For a healthy snack eat peanut butter on apple slices. Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images
  • Peanut butter is good for your health because it contains protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

  • However, peanut butter is high in calories so make sure you don’t accidentally eat more than the two-tablespoon serving size. 

  • Choose a peanut butter that contains only peanuts and salt, and avoid peanut butter high in sugar or hydrogenated oils. 

  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice. 

Peanut butter is high in calories and a good source of plant-based protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.

Here are some of the reasons why peanut butter is healthy for you and tips for adding it to your diet.

Peanut butter is a good source of plant-based protein

Peanut butter can be a good source of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 7.2 grams (g) of protein or about 14{c33c21346ff5e26ab8e0ae3d29ae4367143f0d27c235e34c392ea37decdb8bed} of the protein recommendation for most people. Protein is found in every cell in the human body and plays an important role in:

Peanut butter is high in healthy fats 

 

Although peanut butter is high in fat with 7.65 g of fat per tablespoonalmost 10{c33c21346ff5e26ab8e0ae3d29ae4367143f0d27c235e34c392ea37decdb8bed} of the daily recommended value – it contains mostly good fats. About 80{c33c21346ff5e26ab8e0ae3d29ae4367143f0d27c235e34c392ea37decdb8bed} of fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

Eating polyunsaturated fats can help lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol

Peanut butter also contains small amounts of saturated fat, a type of fat often found in animal products such as butter and red meat. According to a 2020 review, reducing your saturated fat intake decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke. A similar review in 2010 found replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fat – like that in peanut butter – can also reduce your risk of coronary heart disease

Peanut butter may manage blood sugar levels 

Peanut butter can be a great snack choice for people, like those with diabetes, who need to monitor their blood sugar levels. That’s because peanut butter is low on the glycemic index (GI), a system that rates how quickly carbohydrate-containing foods can raise blood sugar. And low-GI diets have been shown to improve glucose control for people with diabetes. 

However, studies have found that peanut butter isn’t just helpful for people with diabetes. It can also improve blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes – a precursor to diabetes if preventative steps aren’t taken – and healthy adults. 

For example, in a 2020 study, people with prediabetes who ate peanut butter as an evening snack saw improved fasting blood glucose levels the following day. 

Additionally, a small pilot 2018 study in healthy adults found adding two tablespoons of peanut butter to a breakfast high in sugar and carbohydrates led to lower blood sugar increases than compared to eating the same breakfast alone. 

Eating nuts, including peanut butter, may also lower your risk of developing diabetes in the future. A large 2002 study of women found those who ate one ounce of nuts or peanut butter at least five times a week were 27{c33c21346ff5e26ab8e0ae3d29ae4367143f0d27c235e34c392ea37decdb8bed} less likely to develop diabetes over 16 years when compared to peers who rarely or never consumed nuts.

Peanut butter may help manage weight 

While peanut butter is calorically-dense with 191 calories per two tablespoons, research indicates it may help people lose or maintain their weight thanks to its ability to keep them fuller for longer

A very large 2019 study collected data from 100,000 men and women in the United States over three decades found people who increased their nut consumption by just 14 g, or 0.5 ounces a day, gained less weight over time and had a lower risk of becoming obese

Peanut and peanut butter eaters also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI).

“Peanut butter is a pretty ideal mix of nutrients: You’re going to get protein… [and] a little bit of fiber,” says Sumi Tohan, RD, the associate Director of Nutrition at the American Diabetes Association. “Both protein and fiber delay how quickly your blood sugar rises, but delay digestion, which means you’re going to feel fuller for longer.”

Therefore, you are more likely to consume fewer calories throughout the day while still feeling satisfied. 

Peanut butter may help you build muscle and gain weight 

 

Though peanut butter can help people manage their weight, it’s also a great option for those looking to gain weight or build muscle mass. That’s because peanut butter is calorically dense and contains about seven grams of protein. 

To gain one pound a week, someone should consume an extra 500 calories a day from healthy, whole foods – which is about five tablespoons of peanut butter. 

Additionally, if you are looking to build muscle mass you should aim for 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day of which peanut butter can help. 

Peanut butter contains many vitamins and minerals

Peanut butter can also be a good plant-based source of essential vitamins and minerals, says Nathalie Mat, RD, a spokesperson for the Association of Dietetics of South Africa. 

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain roughly:

Choosing the right peanut butter 

Not all peanut butter is created equal. Therefore, look for peanut butter that doesn’t contain added sugar or partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated oils are also a source of trans fats that can increase levels of bad cholesterol.

You should start by looking at the ingredients list, which should only contain peanuts and some salt, says Vasanti Malik, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

According to Malik, it’s best to opt for a product where the sugar content is 5{c33c21346ff5e26ab8e0ae3d29ae4367143f0d27c235e34c392ea37decdb8bed} or less of your daily value – which is about 25 grams per day for women and kids and 36 for men. You should also avoid peanut butter with more than 300 mg of sodium per serving.

How to add peanut butter to your diet 

Because the standard serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons – roughly the size of a golf ball – it can be easy to overindulge, says Tohan. But, portion control is an important factor in managing weight and blood sugar levels.  

According to Tohan, a good way to moderate your intake of peanut butter is to pair it with low-calorie and high-fiber foods like apples, which will keep you fuller for longer.

Other healthy ways to include peanut butter in your diet are:

However, be wary of unhealthy peanut butter-related snacks or meals with high amounts of added sugar and oils. These include: 

Insider’s takeaway 

Incorporating natural peanut butter, or other nut butter, into your diet may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. The vitamin and mineral-packed spread can also be an easy way for plant-based eaters to up their intake of protein, iron, and zinc. Still, it’s easy to overindulge when it comes to peanut butter so moderation and portion control are key.

Read the original article on Insider