Of all the things that our friends from across the pond have given us peanut butter might just be my personal favourite! But opinions within the industry are divided – is this a delicious snack full of valuable nutrients or a fatty treat that should be consumed in moderation?
Well the first thing you need to do is read the label. Just be aware, all this information that I am going to discuss is specific to smooth peanut butter because let’s be honest, preferring crunchy is just pure madness!
It is primarily high in two nutrients: fats and protein. For every 100g consumed you are getting around 25g of protein. Which when you think about it is around the same as chicken, so it is pretty good going.
But it isn’t the protein content that causes the divided opinions, it is the fat content. Generally half of peanut butter is fat (50g per 100g) but that doesn’t tell us a lot if we don’t know what sorts of fats we are dealing with.
We usually follow the rule of trying to stick with unsaturated fats and avoiding the saturated ones when we can. Not forgetting to avoid trans fats at all costs!
The fats in peanut butter are split at around 85% unsaturated fats and 15% saturated. So really it is quite high in the good fats that we need to be getting into our diets. That doesn’t mean that we should be eating this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Fats, whether saturated or not, are still fats. And eating too much will mean you can expect to put extra work in at the gym.
The thing about peanut butter is that most of us don’t sit there eating it straight off the spoon. So more often than not it is what we are choosing to eat this stuff with that should be the major concern, not whether or not we should eat it.
A peanut butter sandwich on wholegrain bread for example can be a really tasty snack that provides us with valuable nutrients. But if instead you decide to change that to white bread and cover it with strawberry jam then the snack becomes far less healthy. Similarly if you bake it into peanut butter cookies that are full of sugar then the fact that you are using this high protein ingredient can be irrelevant.
All things in moderation is something that we hear everyday. The truth is that a lot of us plan our meals throughout the day and sometimes forget that it is quite possible that you will want a snack. And when you are trying to eat well finding suitable snacks can be difficult.
That’s where I think peanut butter has a vital role to play. A peanut butter sandwich can prevent an unwanted binge later on and provide you with important fats and protein. I’m not saying we should be eating this stuff every single day, but if like me you just love peanut butter then there is no reason why it can’t be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle!