No. Peanut butter itself will not make you fat. Peanut butter is considered a healthy fat; it’s also full of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are good for you. It makes for an ideal post-workout snack paired with apples or bananas or spread on whole wheat toast. However, even though it’s considered healthy, peanut butter is somewhat calorie dense; the average serving size contains roughly 200 calories. If weight loss or weight management is your goal, just remember to eat peanut butter in moderation. Don’t eat an entire jar; stick with two tablespoons or less per day—roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
Why Is Peanut Butter Considered A “Healthy Fat?”
There are three main types of fat: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. Most foods with fat have both saturated and unsaturated fat, but contain more of one kind than another. Unsaturated fats are considered heart healthy, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats which are considered unhealthy. Most of the fat (roughly 81 percent) found in peanut butter is unsaturated fat.
- Saturated fat is often found in foods made with butter like cakes, cookies, etc, or in in animal products like milk, cheese, or meat. Diets high in saturated fat can cause high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems.
- Trans fat is fat that has been hardened by a process called “hydrogenation” which increases the shelf life of the fat. Trans fats are found in processed foods, certain chips, crackers, cookies, and more. Eat as little trans fat as possible, as it is a major contributor to high cholesterol.
- Unsaturated fat is found mainly in oils and plants. Eating unsaturated fats can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Peanut butter is considered a source of unsaturated fat.
Why Should You Eat Peanut Butter In Moderation?
Unless you have a nut allergy, there’s no reason peanut butter can’t be a part of your diet. Whether you like it creamy or crunchy, it’s a delicious way to satiate your hunger while getting some healthy protein and fat. Peanut butter also contains tons of potassium, magnesium, and other important minerals and vitamins that keep your body strong. We love peanut butter spread on toast, baked into delicious breads and desserts, paired with fruit, or even mixed into our oatmeal! However, like anything, eat peanut butter in moderation. Why? Simply put, it’s a matter of healthy fats vs. calories.
A typical serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons. This amount usually contains about 16 grams of unsaturated fat, which is just fine—for more people, you need 33-58 grams of healthy fats per day. However, this same serving size has roughly 160-200 calories. So while peanut butter can be healthy, you don’t want to eat an entire jar because it’s quite calorie-dense, and if you’re looking to manage your weight, excess calories can contribute to weight gain. Like most foods, moderation is the key to enjoying peanut butter.
5 Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
We’ve already explained how peanut butter is considered a healthy fat, and how eating healthy fats can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. But the health benefits of peanut butter don’t stop there! Peanut butter is also great source of protein, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins. Here are five more awesome health benefits of eating peanut butter.
1. High In Potassium
Peanut butter is high in potassium, which can help to lower your risk of stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Potassium can also help regulate your hormones, such as cortisol, the stress hormone, helping you better manage anxiety and stress.
2. Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Peanut butter is also high in niacin, and studies suggest that eating niacin-rich foods can significantly lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Peanuts are actually one of the foods with the highest levels of niacin.
3. Delivers A Healthy Source of Protein
Looking for a healthy post-workout snack? Peanut butter on apple slices is one of the best options around. Why? Peanut butter is an excellent source of healthy plant-protein, which helps your muscles repair themselves and gives you energy after a long workout.
4. Satiates You
Because of its high protein and healthy fat content, eating a snack with peanut butter helps to keep you fuller, longer. When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat foods that help you feel full and not deprived, as this can actually prevent you from eating too much.
5. Contains Free-Radical-Fighting Resveratrol
Peanut butter contains an important antioxidant called resveratrol, which has been shown to help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can contribute to certain cancers and heart disease.
Which Type of Peanut Butter Should You Buy?
Certain brands of peanut butter include hydrogenated fats and added sugar or preservatives. If weight loss and clean eating are your goals, look for natural peanut butter that’s made with just peanuts and maybe a little salt. That’s it! Be your own grocery store detective and read the nutritional label for ingredients. If a brand of peanut butter has molasses, hydrogenated oils, added sugar, or things you can’t pronounce, keep looking! Many natural peanut butter brands are actually refrigerated, because they don’t contain the same artificial preservatives or shelf-stabilizers as alternatives. Some co-ops or grocery stores even allow you to make your own peanut butter fresh in the store, which is about as fresh as it gets!
The bottom line is this: peanuts themselves are not unhealthy and will not make you fat. When they’re ground up to make peanut butter, it’s the same story. But unnatural, processed peanut butter with a lot of added sugar or “fillers” is not healthy. So choose natural peanut butter, and enjoy it in moderation.
Our Favorite Peanut Butter Recipes
Ok, all this talk about Has all this peanut butter info made you hungry? Here are five of our favorite healthy recipes made with peanut butter, from breakfast to dessert!