SAN ANTONIO – Plenty of kids grow up on peanut butter, and even grownups count on it as a quick and easy protein fix. But years of fat phobia and assumptions that foods that taste rich or indulgent can’t possibly be part of a healthy diet have left many people wondering: Is peanut butter actually good for you? Health experts at Consumer Reports say it can be.
“A two-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has just under 200 calories and about 16 grams of fat, so people might think that it’s unhealthy,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone. “But if you choose a peanut butter that doesn’t have a lot of additives -- like just simply peanuts and a little bit of salt, it actually does have some health benefits. Those include magnesium, which, among other things, helps the body process sugars."
Like all nut butters, peanut butter is a convenient source of protein and a great source of fiber. It has roughly 2 grams in every serving. It’s also high in mono and polyunsaturated fats which are both heart healthy.
“A lot of the fat in peanut butter is actually good fat -- it’s healthy for you. So if you’re going to choose a low-fat peanut butter, you might be missing out on some of the benefits that make it especially good for you,” Calderone said.
Just be conscious of what you have with it. White bread and jelly are not a great choice, according to Calderone. Instead, think about whole wheat bread and real fruit spread with no added sugars. Or, better yet –– actual fruit.
The benefits come from the peanuts themselves, so health experts say look for peanut butter without a lot of extra ingredients. And Consumer Reports says nut butters like almond butter and cashew butter can have the same benefits, but like the peanut butter, you want to look for one that’s just nuts and a little salt.