The peanut butter is healthy and good as it has a number of nutrients and vitamins in it. Pure peanut butter has all the goodness of the whole peanuts.
Since my younger days, I am fond of the smell and taste of it. Especially in my school days, one of the best breakfasts I loved was the sandwiches with a lot of peanut butter spreads.
I have a few friends and relatives who are addicted to this butter…almost irresistible from stop eating it.
It is possible that even you have the same liking for it, if not now, at least when you were a teenager.
In this article, I want to bring home to you some of the important facts on the health benefits and harmfulness of eating peanuts and peanut butter.
You will be shocked to learn that this commonly used tasty food has some serious harmfulness on health in spite of the much goodness it has.
Basic Facts On Peanuts And Peanut-Butter
Historically peanuts were a regular food of South American natives….diet of the Aztecs and Native Americans.
It is the Spanish and Portuguese explorers, a few centuries ago, who took the peanuts to other parts of the world. Today it is commercially cultivated as a food crop in several countries all over the world.
It is believed that in the 19th century, a particular physician practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, grounded the peanuts to make butter like paste and prescribed it to his patients as a high protein food diet with low carbohydrate. Soon it became a popular diet….and today it is used all over the world.
Peanut, contrary to its name, is NOT a nut, but a legume like the beans, peas, lentils, etc.
Because of its high protein content and chemical profile, peanuts are processed into a variety of different forms, including butter, candies, oil, flour, and flakes.
The dry fried whole peanut is popularly used as a good snack for munching especially while watching a game or movie. In fact, the peanuts and American baseball game have an infamous connection of allergies.
It’s pretty much just peanuts, often roasted, that are ground until they turn into peanut butter.
The peanuts are roasted or dried before making it into grounded flour in sticky form.
Basically, it is just like the whole peanuts with all its nutritious qualities.
It is also made into several varieties with added ingredients like salt, seed oils, emulsifiers, and sugar; whereas natural types of peanut butter consist solely of grounded peanuts.
Most of the popular brands of this butter sold in the market are not pure as they contain preservatives, added colors, artificial flavors and other additives.
The best ones are the naturally processed peanut butter with no added ingredients in it. A bit of salt in it is fine. But some say that the processed ones without the oxalate substance are healthier.
It is good to read the ingredients’ list on the peanut butter package before you pick it from the store….pure ones are better for health than those with added ingredients.
It is easy to make it at home by yourself…here I am not going into details on how to make it at home as it is not the concern of this article.
Nutritional Value Of Peanut Butter
Is peanut butter bad for you?
When you come to know the high nutritional value of this food, you would not agree upon the unhealthy and harmful aspects of this food.
It is a healthy food with balanced energy source with good nutrients for the body.
Let us have a look at what contains in 100g of peanut butter.
- Total Calories: 588
- Carbohydrate: 20 grams (12% calories)
- Protein: 25 grams (16% Calories)
- Fat: 50 grams (72% calories)
It has a good amount of protein, but they contain only very little amount of amino acids. So, for your amino acid needs in the diet, you certainly have to have animal fats and dairy products or lysine.
Here is the chart that shows the nutrients and vitamins that you can get from peanuts.
The below-given chart shows you the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamins and Nutrients found in 100 grams of this butter.
The type of fats contained in it are:
- Saturated Fat: 20%
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 30%
- Monounsaturated Fat: 50%
The fatty acids in it are mostly the Omega-6 fatty acid which can become a concern for health.
Your body will also get a good amount of Vitamin B5, Iron, Potassium, Zinc and Selenium in this butter.
The health benefits from it are good as it also has other biologically active nutrients. The p-coumaric acid in it is a good antioxidant that can reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
Peanut butter also contains a good bit of Resveratrol, Q10 and Beta-sitosterol nutrients which are good for health.
Heath Benefits Of Peanut Butter
The peanut butter not only tastes great, but it has several health benefits as well.
Healthy Nutrients And Vitamins: As we have already discussed above, the peanut butter contains a good amount of essential vitamins and nutrients that are good for the health. The rich antioxidants in it also improve the health of the heart.
Good For The Heart: The monounsaturated and saturated fats in peanuts are good for the health of the heart. Some of the actual study results showed that this butter can reduce cardiovascular diseases by 21% compared to other diets.
Healthy Antioxidants: The oleic acid in it is a good antioxidant that helps in preventing cancer and in reducing the adverse effects of free radicals in the blood. This also has polyphenols, p-coumaric acid and Q10 antioxidants that are very healthy. The antioxidants in peanut butter are as good as those found in fruits like pomegranate, blackberries, strawberries, etc.[5,6,7]
Reduces The Risk Of Stroke: According to one of the animal study results published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, resveratrol (a phytonutrient) found in this nut is good for improving the blood flow into the brain by 30% or more which can greatly reduce the risk of stroke. The Resveratrol nutrient actually helps in the increased production of nitric oxide (NO) which is needed for the development of healthy blood vessels that allow smooth flow of blood.
Peanut Reduces The Chances Of Colon Cancer: The folic acid, phytosterols, phytic acid and other nutrients found in peanut is proved to be good for reducing the risk of colon cancer as per a number of studies in the past. The Taiwanese researchers’ 10 years long study on all commonly used foods in resisting colon cancer, it was found that those consumed peanuts were least affected by colon cancer compared those consumed other bean products, pickled foods, etc.[9,10,11]
Peanuts Help In Preventing Gallstones: One of the Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who eat at least 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.[12,13]
Peanut Is Good For Resisting Dementia And Alzheimer’s: One of the research results published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry points out that peanuts like foods with high amount of niacin can provide protection against dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.[14,15]
It Can Reduce Weight Gain: The protein and fats contained in peanut quickly suppress the appetite as it has a lot of calories in it. It is also found that the people who eat peanuts are less likely to gain weight unlike those who eat carbohydrate-rich grains. Generally, including a lot of nuts and legumes in your diet is good for reducing the body weight.[16,17]
What Makes Peanut Butter Bad For You?
It is true that peanut has many good health benefits…at the same time, it is also a villain.
Many are simply allergic to peanuts….for some it leads to the development of fatal diseases.
It contains certain substances that can cause unwanted health hazards.
Let us have a look at some of the major issues with over-consumption of peanut-based foods.
Presence Of Aflatoxin In Peanuts Is Bad: It is the natural mold aflatoxin found in it causes allergic reactions, also can damage the liver. Usually, the human body has the ability to resist the aflatoxin effects, but not always. Some studies on humans link aflatoxin exposure to liver cancer, stunted growth in children and mental retardation.[20,21,22,23]
Processed Peanut Butter Contains Trans Fats: The highly processed peanut butter you buy from the stores could include sugar and hydrogenated (trans) fats which are usually added for flavor and taste. The trans-fatty acids — both raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol.[26,27]
Pesticides In Peanuts: The peanut cultivation requires extensive use of pesticides as this plant is highly susceptible to pest attacks. The pesticides can penetrate to peanut beans in its development stage itself. The peanut shells are light with pores which allow the easy occurrence of pesticide contamination of the beans inside.
Excess Omega-6 In Peanuts: Omega-6, or linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid that is good for the healthy functioning of the heart, brain, and energy production. However, the omega-6 should be in balance proportion with Omega-3 folic acid to be effective and good for the body. An excess amount of omega-6 in the blood can cause inflammation that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular diseases.[28,29]
Oxalates Cause Health Risks: Oxalate is a natural substance found in peanuts. This substance can become too concentrate in the body’s fluids or even become crystallized to cause health issues. Oxalate is bad for the gallbladder and kidney especially.[30,31,32]
Should You Avoid Peanut Butter?
There is no need to avoid taking peanuts altogether for some of its bad effects on health.
What is most important is the moderate usage of peanuts butter and peanut-based products.
It is also important to use the purest quality of peanut butter instead of those with added ingredients for flavor and taste.
It is healthier if you can prepare the peanut butter at home by yourself to ensure the purity and quality of it. However, aflatoxin content in it cannot be removed through manual means.
It is also good to avoid regular and excess consumption of the peanut butter to ward off possible bad effects from it. You could eat it in small amounts every now and then. But never become addicted to it at any cost.
As for the nutritional value, it is loaded with a decent amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
But remember that too much of anything is harmful for health.