Peanut butter being spread on sandwich

Peanut butter is one of those highly debatable foods. Some say it's healthy for you and others beg to differ. It's time to unveil the truth!

The good, the bad
and the ugly

High in calories and high in fat (good fat though, right?) are two ways to describe this smooth and creamy treat we love to put on bananas, celery and even ice cream. While peanut butter does provide your body with much-needed nutrients, it's important to remember that a little goes a long way. We've found that it's hard to eat just one serving of peanut butter, and, depending on the brand, it may actually be causing more harm than good.

First, the good

Of course, peanut butter does have some good qualities that are important to recognize. For those able to control themselves and eat only one serving, peanut butter can actually help aid in weight loss. Chock full of fiber and protein, it helps keep you fuller longer so you eat less overall. By offering a hint of sweetness and richness, it fights off cravings for sugar — a dieter's nightmare. Other benefits include:

  • It's anti-aging. Peanut butter contains the antioxidant resveratrol — also found in red wine — which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  • It's rich in nutrients. Peanut butter is full of vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium and folate — all of which provide for better circulation and cardiovascular health.
  • It can help fight cancer. Loaded with antioxidants, peanut butter can help reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease.

Sold on the benefits? Try making your own peanut butter, it's healthier than store-bought >>

Now, the bad

peanut butter

Even in moderation, peanut butter does have a few disadvantages that are important to note. Typically, extra sugar is added to many common brands causing the calorie count to be even higher. To keep peanut butter from separating, cheap oils — such as palm oil — are added. Palm oil adds significantly more saturated fat to the already high-in-fat food. It's also very hard to eat just one serving. In other words, peanut butter is just a little too tasty, if we say so ourselves. Eating three servings will put you at more than 600 calories and 45 grams of fat — that's an entire meal's worth!

Types of peanut butter

Reduced-fat. Though reduced-fat peanut butter contains about 25 percent less fat than regular peanut butter, it's the good fat that's reduced. Surprisingly, it has the same amount of saturated fat (the bad kind) than regular peanut butter. Even if you're trying to lose weight, go for the full-fat peanut butter to maximize health benefits.

Natural. This is by far the best type of peanut butter for you. It has no added oils to prevent the peanut butter from separating. Because of this, natural peanut butter needs to be stirred before each use. Make sure to choose the natural peanut butters with no added sugars or salt, as well.

The final verdict

Enjoying natural peanut butter in moderation is our best bet. Whether trying to lose weight or simply be healthier, natural peanut butter (with veggies) can be a good choice for an afternoon snack a few times a week. If you find yourself going overboard more often than not, it's best to skip this treat altogether.

More on health foods

Must-have healthy foods
5 Simple tips for eating healthy on the go
Top 10 health foods that aren't healthy at all

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Comments

Comments on "The truth about peanut butter"

Katie January 16, 2013 | 1:14 PM

Great read! Very informative. I agree - I think it's OK in moderation. It's so high in calories though that I personally usually avoid it. I'd rather have 100 calories in potato chips than one bite of peanut butter.

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