The Healthy Perks of Peanut Butter

Learn how peanut butter can help your health and slim you down

Peanut butter sandwich on a plate
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You have to love it when a good-for-you food tastes good, too. That’s exactly the case with peanut butter (or any nut butter, for that matter).

Peanut butter is loaded with so many healthy-promoting nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin B6. Research shows that people who regularly eat nuts and nut butter, including peanut butter, are less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Plus, peanut butter is so versatile—what other food transitions seamlessly from breakfast to lunch to dinner to snack and dessert? If the taste alone isn't enough to make you a fan, consider some of the health benefits. 

Satisfy Your Appetite

PB’s combo of fiber (about 2 grams per tablespoon) and protein (around 4 grams per tablespoon) packs a powerful appetite-suppressing punch. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate peanuts or peanut butter for breakfast experienced a significant reduction in the desire to eat for up to 12 hours. It might be because peanut butter was associated with an increase in the production of PYY, a feel-full hormone, the researchers found.

Slim Down

Because peanut butter helps control appetite, it might not come as a surprise that it may help you slim down. Nut eaters tend to have a healthier body mass index (BMI) than nut skippers, according to research.

Protect Your Pumper

Peanuts are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, which helps lower bad cholesterol. Women who ate at least five servings of nuts per week (one serving was defined as 1 ounce of nuts or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter) had a 44 percent reduced risk of heart disease compared to women who rarely ate nuts, suggests a Harvard University Nurse's Health study.

Give Yourself Gorgeous Skin and Hair

Peanuts contain biotin, a B vitamin necessary for long, luscious locks and overall scalp health. It also offers vitamin E, which nourishes the skin and protects it from the damaging UV rays.

Better Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Peanuts—and their buttery spread—are naturally low in carbs so they can help prevent blood sugar spikes. They’re a perfect quick and easy low-carb snack for people with type 2 diabetes.

Of course, you can’t spoon your way through the whole jar of this creamy spread. Any peanut butter buff knows that this pick is high in calories (nearly 100 per tablespoon), so it’s best to limit yourself to a two-tablespoon serving size.

And not all PBs are created equal, so when you’re shopping look for natural varieties made without added partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and other suspect ingredients.

Check out these tasty ideas to see just how easy it is to incorporate the healthy spread into your diet.

  • Make a healthier PB&J sandwich for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can use any nut butter to whip up this fast and easy bite. 
  • Mix in some peanut butter into your hot cereal for a creamy flavor kick, like in this low-carb flax meal peanut butter hot cereal recipe.
  • Throw a tablespoon into your smoothie for extra thickness. 
  • Spread peanut butter on fruit slices for a creamy and crunchy snack. 

By Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, Health and Nutrition Expert for NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.

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