Did you know that today, March 1st is national peanut butter lovers day here in the U.S.? Neither did I until I started looking for information to share with you today. If you love peanut butter as much as we do, then read on…
While you’re enjoying that delicious PB&J, watch this free video…
Ask a bunch of five-year-olds what they want for lunch, and you’ll get several requests for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And those tykes are not alone in their love of the spreadable stuff. Each year, Americans consume enough peanut butter to make more than 10 billion sandwiches. But is that too much? Its reputation as a health food has made peanut butter a staple for quick energy, and it is a go-to food for busy lifestyles. But peanuts are not the perfect food for everyone. While the legumes do contain a lot of nutrition, there is reason to be concerned about over-consumption. There are some consequences to eating large amounts of peanut butter because of the high fat and calorie content. Despite these factors, peanut butter can be a healthy, convenient part of your kitchen routine as long as you exercise a little portion control.
When you look at the nutritional profile of peanut butter, there are many benefits. Peanuts contain a lot of nutrition in a convenient little package. Each serving offers 4 grams of plant-based protein, fulfilling about 15% of the average daily protein requirement. In every serving of peanut butter there is an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals essential for good health. Nutrients such as manganese, niacin and folic acid help your body use energy and regulate cell growth; all three are found in plentiful amounts in each serving of peanut butter. However, it is important to be aware of how energy-dense peanuts are. The recommended serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, just enough to cover one slice of bread for a sandwich. It sounds like a small amount, but since it is packed full of nutrition, you really don’t need more of it to feel satisfied and stay full for a long time. There are approximately 95 calories in each tablespoon, and they do add up quickly if you’re not careful! Those watching their weight should consume peanut butter in moderation to avoid excess calories – for example, choosing to have a single tablespoon (a half serving) with a sliced apple. With a fat content of 16 grams per serving, peanut butter might seem too oily for a well-balanced diet. But rest assured peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free, and the fat is monounsaturated – the good kind, thought to help reduce the bad kind of cholesterol when eaten in moderation. There is another reason your heart likes peanut butter: each serving also offers two grams of healthy dietary fiber, or about 8% of your daily fiber needs. Adequate amounts of fiber are not only great for your digestive system, but promote overall heart health.
When buying prepared peanut butter at the grocery store, be sure to read the label so you can know if there are any added ingredients. Most companies add some sugar, salt and even partially hydrogenated oils to their products so choose a brand that has minimal additives. It is really easy to make your own peanut butter at home too. Roast peanuts in the oven for a half hour, and add them to a food processor or blender. Add a little peanut oil, and pulse to desired consistency. A little coarse sea salt and honey can be a delicious addition to this homemade superfood as well.
As a protein source, peanut butter certainly is one of the most affordable foods available. You can get ten times more calories from peanut butter than sliced turkey for your dollar. It is the ideal food for large families or those on a budget and is extremely versatile. Peanut butter can be a delicious part of any meal. Upgrade the usual PB&J by using sprouted whole wheat bread, and swap jam for apple or banana slices. Add a spoonful of peanut butter to your post-workout smoothie, or spread on fresh veggies for an afternoon snack. It also makes a creamy addition to Asian-style chicken, noodle or tofu dishes. When it comes to great nutrition, taste and affordability, peanuts are an ideal food source. They are extremely convenient and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. As long as you don’t go overboard, consuming too many calories and grams of fat, there’s no need to worry about eating peanuts and peanut butter on a regular basis.
Since peanuts are found in so many foods, there is a bit of concern that over-consumption can lead to a food allergy or intolerance. Some doctors recommend that children under the age of 3 limit their exposure to peanuts. However, food allergies can develop at any age and for a variety of reasons. The amount of peanuts needed to trigger a reaction differs for individuals, but if you have never experienced an allergic reaction, you can probably include as much peanut butter in your diet as you like. Due to the rich nature of peanut butter, most people would have a hard time eating enough to cause a negative reaction. There are other nuts and seeds that can be a substitute for peanut butter. Almonds, hemp seed, sunflower and soy nut butters are widely available and can be equally delicious for those with allergies, or who just want to limit exposure to peanuts.
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