The health benefits of peanut butter include a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, degenerative nerve diseases, and control of Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps in decreasing hypertension, and the risk of contracting viral and fungal infections.
What is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is a paste made from dry, roasted peanuts. This paste is generally used as a spread on toast or sandwiches. Peanut butter is a healthy food that is full of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, monounsaturated fatty acids, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, sodium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, copper, iron, and zinc.
Peanuts or ground nuts, as they are called, belong to the family of Fabaceae and species of Arachis hypogaea. The plant itself is a small annual plant in which the branch of the flower touches the ground and grows underneath the ground. The plant is thought to have originated in the American continent and through Spanish travelers it was spread all over the world. Unlike costly nuts such as cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, and walnuts, peanuts are low cost nuts that offer similar benefits.
Interesting Facts About Peanuts and Peanut Butter:
Peanut butter comes in two popular varieties. One is a creamy variety and the other is crunchy. While women and children generally love the creamy variety, men prefer the crunchy variety.
The first commercial preparation of peanut butter was in the United States in 1884.
According to an estimate by Kansas State University, the amount of peanut butter consumed by the United States alone in one year is enough to spread across the floor of Grand Canyon.
Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter, who were both elected President of United States, were initially peanut farmers.
Nutritional Value of Peanut and Peanut Butter
People who consume peanuts and peanut products on a regular basis have an overall higher intake of protein, fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), fiber, vitamins A and E, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, and many other nutrients. Peanuts contain no saturated fats and can be consumed on a regular basis. It only contains unsaturated fats. This is good news for people who fear gaining weight by consuming peanuts. Peanuts actually help you to lose weight!
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Apart from its great taste, peanut butter has vital nutrients that are essential for the body. Some of the health benefits of peanut butter include the following:
Rich Source of Protein: Peanut butter (100 grams) contains a high amount of protein (25 – 30 grams). Proteins that we eat are broken down into amino acids which are then utilized in each and every cell for repairing and building the body. A cell divides by using protein as its fundamental building material.
Lower Cholesterol Levels: The amount of fats contained in peanut butter is almost equal to that of the fats found in olive oil. Peanut butter contains both polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. As these fats are not saturated, they are good to consume without putting the heart at any risk. The unsaturated fats in peanut butter help to lower bad cholesterol levels (low density lipoprotein) and promote the circulation of good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein).
Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes: Consuming peanut butter can also be beneficial in reducing the risk of type II diabetes. Peanuts contain not only protein, but also unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats have been noted to improve insulin sensitivity. Research into peanut butter consumption and diabetes showed that a higher intake of peanut butter and other nuts lowers the risk of type II diabetes.
Source of Vitamins: Peanut butter contains many vitamins that are good for our body to function properly. Vitamin A found in peanut butter is helpful for eyesight, while vitamin C helps to boost the immune system and heals simple ulcers faster. On the other hand, the vitamin E found in peanut butter is also a very important micronutrient needed by our body to dissolve complex fatty acid structures and fat blockages in arteries.
Antioxidant Properties: Peanut butter contains antioxidant properties due to the presence of folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin. One of the antioxidants found in peanut butter is resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol antioxidant which has been found to be effective in controlling certain types of cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, viral and/or fungal infections, and degenerative nerve diseases.
Anti-Cancer Properties: Peanut butter contains B-sitosterol, a phytosterol that has a great property of fighting against cancer, particularly colon, prostate, and breast cancers. Peanuts and its products, such as peanut oil and peanut butter are ideal sources of phytosterols.
Good Source of Magnesium: Magnesium is one of the most essential elements in our body. Its presence in our body helps in more than 300 biochemical reactions thatare extremely important for our survival. Peanut butter is a good source of magnesium (170mg/100 grams). This makes up for 42% of the daily recommended value of magnesium. Magnesium has an important role to play in muscle, bone, and immunity development in the body. Magnesium also helps in regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
High in Potassium: Peanut butter contains potassium (70 mg/100g) that acts as an electrolyte and is a fluid-balancing element in the body. In comparison to sodium, which directly puts pressure on the cardiovascular system in the form of hypertension, potassium does not put any pressure either on the blood or on the cardiovascular system. In effect, potassium is a heart-friendly element that is found in high quantities in peanut butter.
Reduces Risk of Gallstones: Gallstones is one of the major health risks in developed countries which is caused by being overweight, crash diets, certain types of cholesterol drugs, and birth control pills. A study on peanuts and nut consumption relating to the risk of gallstones was undertaken and the results of the study showed that over a period of 2 decades, women who consumed peanut butter and nuts on a regular basis had reduced their risk of developing gallstones.
Dietary Fiber: Peanuts and peanut butter are both high in dietary fiber. One cup or approximately 125 g of peanuts and peanut butter has 12 g and 20 g of dietary fiber, respectively. Dietary fiber is one of the most important parts in our diet, since a lack of dietary fiber can lead to several health problems and diseases such as constipation, diabetes, cholesterol, and various heart diseases.
Peanut Allergy and Health Concerns
Peanut allergies are one of the major risks associated with peanut butter, according to a survey conducted in the United States.
The symptoms of the allergy include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anaphylaxis, asthma, and angioedema. If untreated, the anaphylactic shock can be fatal. According to the study, about 3 million Americans are presently affected by peanut and tree nut allergy.