Peanut butter can be found in kitchen cabinets across the globe. And whether you're fond of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or prefer peanut butter smeared on toast, chances are you can find a jar of this beloved spread in your pantry.
While flavor might be the foremost reason people keep jars of peanut butter in their pantries, the nutritional value of peanut butter should not be overlooked. So just how healthy is peanut butter? The following are some notable reasons to pick up a jar of peanut butter and add more peanuts to your diet on your next trip to the grocery store.
Peanut butter is loaded with antioxidants
A study from researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway found that peanuts contribute significantly to dietary intake of antioxidants. That's a notable benefit, as the body needs more antioxidants than it can provide on its own. Antioxidants are chemicals that interact with free radicals and neutralize them, thereby preventing the damage they can cause. The National Cancer Institute notes that cell damage caused by free radicals may play a role in the development of cancer.
Peanut butter can benefit your cholesterol levels
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology noted that peanuts are an excellent source of resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and phytosterols that block the absorption of cholesterol from diet. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is an essential component of cardiovascular health.
Peanut butter may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes
The Harvard School of Public Health notes that numerous studies have shown that people who routinely consume nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who rarely eat nuts.
It's important that consumers recognize that the aforementioned benefits largely refer to peanuts and not necessarily peanut butter. As a result, when choosing peanut butter, shoppers should not consider all jars one and the same.
When shopping, consumers should look for peanut butters made from just peanuts. The more ingredients listed on the label, the less healthy the peanut butter likely is. The American Heart Association notes that a diet that's high in sodium can increase one's risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, so look for a peanut butter that's unsalted. The sodium content of some peanut butters may be very high, which may only negate the many health benefits of eating peanut butter.
Sugar is another ingredient to watch out for when buying peanut butter. Some manufacturers may include extra sugar to boost the flavor profile of their peanut butters, so keep an eye out for sugar content, which tends to be high in flavored varieties of peanut butter.
Peanut butter can be a nutritious addition to anyone's diet. But peanut butter should be eaten in moderation and consumers should recognize that not all peanut butters provide the nutritional value they're looking for.