There is much to be said about peanut butter: some people dislike it, but many people love it. America seems to be hooked on Peanut butters creamy, savory, and slightly sweet flavor. I, myself, believe that it is delicious and that it pairs well with almost anything.
Considering that it is a major staple in the diet of most college students, I decided to do a little research to figure out what peanut butter is all about.
Fact 1: most peanut butter is not natural
Unless a certain jar of peanut butter in the grocery store specifically states that it is “all natural”, it is more than likely to contain added sugars, hydrogenated oils, and salt. Food companies do this to help stabilize peanut butter on the shelf. Natural peanut butter requires stirring and refrigeration upon opening. However, the natural kind is made purely of ground peanuts and does not contain additives. This peanut butter tends to have a richer peanutty taste. I would recommend that anyone who is feeling a bit adventurous to deviate a bit and give the natural peanut butter a try.
Fact #2: Peanuts are not nuts!
Contrary to popular belief, peanuts are not nuts. They are considered to be legumes since they are grown underground and are considered a part of the same family as peas and other beans. Other nuts such as walnuts and almonds grow on trees and are thus considered to be true nuts(1).
Fact #3: Powerhouse of Nutrients
While peanut butter is not a complete protein, it is an excellent source of many essential amino acids, as well as fats,fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A serving of peanut butter, when paired with whole wheat bread, can provide a complete protein meat alternative to any vegetarian It is can also make a nice, filling snack due to it;s protein and fat content. Like anything, however, moderation must be kept in mind when enjoying this delicious concoction.
Fact #4: antioxidant activity
Peanut butter contains a great deal of Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that has known antioxidant capabilities. This in effect may reduces one’s risk for cancer and other metabolic complications.
Fact #5: Plumpy’nut
Peanut butter serves as a base for a therapeutic ready-to-use food called Plumpy’nut. This supplement is rich in calories and nutrients(provided by the peanut butter) and is used mainly to help underweight, malnourished children in developing countries(2). Peanut butter’s uses extend beyond the enjoyment of its taste and actually acts as a therapeutic tool in helping malnourished children become healthy again.
Overall, peanut butter is pretty fantastic. It remains the majorly consumed “nut” butter in the United States, but other types like almond, walnut, pecan, macadamia, and hazelnut are gaining popularity. These nut butters, like peanut butter, are nutty, rich, and full of flavor. They possess many of the same nutritional attributes as peanut butter does. Their differences lie mainly in their fat content. Nut butters are notorious are being higher in mono and polyunsaturated fats, whereas peanut butter is higher in saturated fat. Both types of fat are essential to the human body, but research has shown favor to the mono and polyunsaturated fats to hold more benefits to the body than saturated fat.
To all peanut butter lovers out there, please enjoy it in moderation and do not be afraid to venture out and try other types of nut butters!
1.National Peanut Board. 2006-2012. Accessed on 12/26/12. Available at:http://www.nationalpeanutboard.org/classroom-funfacts.php
2. Plumpy’Nut. Nutriset. 2010-2012. Date Accessed: 12/26/12. Available at: http://www.nutriset.fr/en/product-range/produit-par-produit/plumpy-nut-ready-to-use-therapeutic-food-rutf.html