There are so many mixed messages regarding whether peanut butter is healthy or not. Crunchy or creamy, it’s time to get the scoop on peanut butter health.
Good old peanut butter — a staple of nearly every family’s kitchen cupboard that pleases adults and kids alike. Relatively inexpensive, good for a quick snack or a full lunch, this delicious nut spread (well, technically it’s a legume) is as American as apple pie.
Yet, peanut butter has come under fire from nutritional groups at various times during the diet-obsessed past decade or so, leaving many people confused as to whether their favorite sandwich ingredient is actually harming them, or helping them. As with many things related to nutritional function, the question of whether peanut butter is good for you or not isn’t a black-and-white, simple matter.
First of all, we have to consider the fact that not all peanut butters are created equal. There are literally dozens of different options available, ranging from organic and containing only a handful of ingredients, to processed and filled with chocolate and sugary additives. It goes without saying that the more pure the peanut butter, the better it is for you. What ingredients should you look for in your peanut butter? Peanuts, and perhaps a tiny dash of salt and oils for flavor and consistency. Anything else will start to tip your PB&J into unhealthy territory.
When we talk about foods being healthy or unhealthy, their nutritional value exists on a sliding scale. Even peanut butters loaded with salt will be better for you than, say, a fried donut. However, don’t underestimate how unhealthy peanut butter can be if it’s not a balanced part of your diet.
You see, peanut butter is what we’d consider a “calorically dense” food. Meaning, while it is generally healthy for you (it’s rich in protein, good fats, and vitamins), it also packs a wallop in terms of calories. Too much of a good thing might, in this case, cause you to move up in waist size! Just one tablespoon of peanut butter typically has about 100 calories — so if you’re loading up on your favorite chunky or smooth PB on a daily basis, you’ll find it harder to stay within your healthy weight range.
All things considered, peanut butter is definitely good for you! Just make sure you’re buying a brand that doesn’t have a bunch of added sugar; stick to organic varieties or at least ones with minimal additives; and use moderation… so that you don’t end up as chunky as your favorite peanut butter!