Nutritionists have historically debated the health profile of peanut butter, mostly because of the spread’s high-fat content. However, when looked at in its entirety, most will agree that peanut butter offers “a great nutritional package,” (as Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health puts it) and is certainly worth keeping in your health-food pantry.
Just two tablespoons of peanut butter contain seven grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, and two grams of fiber, making it a very satisfying snack.
Is peanut butter a “good” fat?
The confusion around whether peanut butter is healthy or not stems from its high-fat content. However, researchers and experts are now distinguishing between different types of fats. Fortunately for peanut butter lovers, peanut butter is considered “mostly healthy unsaturated fat,” says Willett.
Consuming this kind of fat “will reduce blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease, especially if [it] replaces butter or processed meats,” he adds. For those who aren’t fans of peanuts or are simply allergic to them, then other nuts and seed butter such as almond butter or sunflower seed butter are “all in the healthy category,” according to Willett.
What’s the healthiest kind of peanut butter to buy?
Even though peanut butter is considered healthy, not all peanut butters are equally so. The healthiest kinds of peanut butters generally have the least ingredients on the label. Peanut butters with only peanuts and salt (but not too much) are a safe bet. Try to avoid peanuts that don’t have any added sugars or hydrogenated oils (unhealthy fats that are added to keep the peanut butter from separating or going bad quickly).
Registered dietitian and clinical professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University Lisa Sasson also advises skipping the jars labeled “low fat.” This usually means that they contain “the same amount of calories and more added sugar.”
How much peanut butter should you eat?
According to Sasson, two tablespoons of peanut butter contain approximately 200 calories, so if you’re having a peanut butter sandwich, two tablespoons is a good portion.
What’s the best way to eat peanut butter?
There are so many ways to incorporate this versatile ingredient. You can spread it on crackers, use it in baked goods, slap it on a sandwich, or combine it with your favorite fruits. Sasson likes it best spread on whole-grain toast or whole wheat crackers. Willett, on the other hand, prefers using it as a dip for carrot sticks or in a “flavorful and nutritious” West African peanut soup.