Why peanut butter snacks are not as healthy as you think?
Peanut butter is one of my favorite spreads of all time. It’s creamy texture and versatile taste makes me salivate just by the look of it. You can spread it over a bread or eat with fruits or make all sorts of desserts with it. Snacks made from Peanut butter are honestly my favorite and on top of that they are healthy too, or are they? I’m sorry because I might be ruining peanut butter for you,particularly if you’re guilty of digging in that peanut butter jar of yours multiple times a day. So recently I was looking at some healthy peanut butter recipes and there came some sort of advertisement, which at the moment felt like a nightmare. But first let’s share some general knowledge. I know I hate it too but you know, just for the sake of peanut butter!
What exactly is peanut butter?
Peanut butter is made from grinding roasted peanuts into a paste. It’s as simple as that. The sweet and salty taste or that crunch are just added flavors by various brands to make it tastier.
Peanut butter nutrition
We are talking about the nutrition in one serving i.e. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
1.Calories– It has around 190 calories per serving.Yep, so ready to hit the gym?
It has 4 types of fats:
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Monounsaturated fat
3. Carbohydrate-7.7 g
5. Vitamins and Minerals(Sodium and Potassium) make up the rest of it.
So basically, it is 50% fat, 25% protein and 20% carbohydrates by weight and rest 5% vitamins and minerals.
FUN FACT: You need,
- 51 minutes of walking(3mph)
- 18 minutes of running(6 mph)
- Or 26 minutes of bicycling(10 mph)
to burn that one tiny serving of peanut butter. So you see where I’m going with this. All the snacks you used to make from your favorite peanut butter are not as healthy as you think they were.
Although if used in moderation, it can act as a body building protein source and help you loose weight. But let’s just accept that we take it in amounts which can’t be called moderate. But before lashing out on the poor tasty spread, let’s see some of it’s benefits.
Peanut Butter Health benefits
1. Weight loss
I know it sounds quite contrary to what I said but like I said before, it is healthy as long as consumed in moderation.
Many studies have shown that eating nuts like peanuts etc. can help in reducing weight loss. And it is probably because nuts have a higher satiety value i.e. they make you feel full for a long time.
2. Healthy Heart
Peanut butter makes your heart healthy because it has:
- monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)
- polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
Since peanut butter has higher ratio of unsaturated fats than saturated ones, it can be considered a healthy fat and good for your heart. We’ll talk later how this can turn into something unhealthy if consumed in larger amounts.
It’s very clear that it is a great source of protein and hence the body builder. Also being high in calories, it can increase muscle mass to a great amount.
4. Lowering blood sugar levels
Please keep in mind that all these health benefits are only when it is taken in an appropriate amount and in its most natural form. Peanut butter snacks can be healthy and reduce blood sugar levels because of less carbohydrate content and high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. Since it is helping reduce the blood sugar levels, it is known to reduce the risk of diabetes as recommended by ADA.
5. Anti-oxidant properties
Anti oxidants protect our functioning cells from the free radicals which are released upon cell death. They play a critical role to maintain the cell functioning and integrity. And Vitamin E, one of the important constituents of peanut butter is a very potent anti-oxidant.
What makes peanut butter unhealthy then?
1. Highly processed
The jars that we buy from the markets contain highly processed peanut butter. It is only healthy when it contains peanuts and a bit of salt. That’s it. But these brands in order to market their products have decreased it’s core nutritional value. They have huge amounts of added sugars and oils which makes any snack made from peanut butter really unhealthy.
Peanut butter in it’s purest form is really expensive just like all other things because it’s not polluted with so called flavour altering unhealthy ingredients.
Peanut butter has 52% of aflatoxins. What are aflatoxins?
Aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic agents produced by molds or fungi that grow in the soil. And since peanuts grow underground in the soil, there are high chances that they are saturated with aflatoxins.
Effects of Aflatoxins on human body:
- Known to cause liver cancer
- Inflammation of the heart
- Auto-immune reactions
- Teratogenic effects
Now you understand why said peanut butter might be ruined for you. But these effects are only seen when you’re consuming it in large amounts. Try to eat the one with less added sugars and other flavors and also, keep the consumption moderate.
3. Saturated fatty acids
Although it’s known that the ratio of saturated to unstaurated fatty acids is quite low and falls in the category of olive oil, but then again if used in hefty amounts will lead to serious heart issues.
Healthy Alternatives to Peanut butter
- Almond butter: overall healthier
- Cashew butter: relatively lower sugar content
- Sunflower seed butter: In case you have nut allergies
- Pumpkin seed butter: Higher fiber content
Peanut butter is overall a healthy and delicious spread but only if used in small amounts. The thing is we don’t consume it in small amounts. Once we start having it, it’s difficult to stop. But if you want to continue have peanut butter as a snack in it’s healthy form, you’ve gotta change your eating habits. I don’t want to leave you all sad because of this post so here’s a list of healthy peanut butter recipes which will make you lick off your fingers.