By Sherry L. Granader, Nutritionist
There is nothing better than fresh ground peanut butter, and if you walk into a Whole Foods grocery or a health food store, most likely you will find an area where you can grind your own peanuts. Peanut butter is an excellent protein source to add to your meals and snacks, and makes a great accompaniment to an apple or pear. Peanuts are actually legumes and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter serves up 7 grams of protein that will help you stay full longer.
The health benefits of peanut butter are endless as it contains the same ratio of unsaturated and saturated fats found in olive oil. These poly and monounsaturated fats can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By now, we all know that too much salt in the diet can damage our cardiovascular system. Although peanuts that are roasted and salted contain twice as much potassium as the unsalted variety, which does counteract the negative effects of sodium, the unsalted variety is still more heart healthy.
An added benefit of peanut butter is that its fiber content can help regulate the digestive system, yielding healthy bowel movements and keeping you full longer. Even though there are 16 grams of fat in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a majority of the fat is unsaturated, which can help lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol, and only 3.4 grams of it is saturated. Another way that peanut butter helps lower cholesterol is by blocking its absorption into the intestines.
You can feel good about adding fresh ground peanut butter to your morning oatmeal or smoothie in a blender for some extra protein, vitamins and minerals. There are 188 calories in 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter, however very few of the calories come from carbohydrates. There are approximately 3 grams of sugar, and unlike white table sugar, most of it is sucrose, a sweet crystalline disaccharide form of sugar that occurs naturally in plants. Commercially, it is obtained from sugar beets or sugarcane.
There are several minerals in peanut butter such as manganese, supplying 26% of the daily requirement for women and 17% for men. Peanut butter also contains copper, which is beneficial for proper growth, utilization of iron, enzymatic reactions, connective tissues, hair, eyes, retarding the aging process and producing energy. The potassium found in peanut butter is a mineral that's crucial for life. It's necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally while magnesium relaxes the muscles, including the heart, and is great for lowering blood pressure naturally.
Peanut butter does not contain any vitamin C, but it does offer two of the B-vitamins, vitamins B6 and B3, that offer many benefits. B6 helps with:
- Maintaining healthy brain function
- Acting as the main player in combining antibodies that are needed to fight various diseases
- Maintaining normal nerve function, and is vitally important in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, plus assists in normal nerve cell communication
- Forming red blood cells
- Breaking down and digesting protein (typically, the more protein you consume, the more you’ll need vitamin B6)
The other B-vitamin, niacin or vitamin B3, is involved in more than 50 metabolic processes responsible for turning carbohydrates into energy. Niacin nourishes our body’s cells, providing them energy and maintaining their integrity throughout the entire body. It also helps with:
- Absorbing antioxidants
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Lowering cholesterol naturally
- Detoxifying the body
- Supporting the production of adrenal and sex hormones
- Turning fat into energy