Why peanut butter is a super-food that should be in everyone’s grocery cupboard
Most of us have childhood memories of peanut butter sandwiches enjoyed during school lunch with friends. But many of us drop peanut butter off the shopping list when we reach adulthood, which is a big mistake. This super-food is one of the healthiest food items you can have in your cupboard – as long as you choose the right quality product that is, one without added sugar, salt and other vegetable oil.
Peanut butter is a paste produced by grinding roasted peanuts. The quality of the peanuts that are used in the production of peanut butter has a huge influence on the final product. The taste, texture, oil separation and aroma of the peanut butter are in direct relation to the quality of the peanuts. The addition of salt, sugar and vegetable oil is not necessary to get a peanut butter product that tastes good, and are rather used to mask harsh tastes that tend to creep in because of the quality of the peanuts used and the manufacturing process.
A sure-fire way to check if your favourite peanut butter is a high quality, natural product is by checking the layer of oil that forms at the top of the tub. When high quality peanuts are ground into paste the oil doesn’t separate from the crushed peanuts very quickly. When it does it will form a thin, translucent layer on top of the paste. Added oil will never form part of the paste and you have to stabilise it. As such, a thick layer of yellow oil will form above the peanut butter.
Athletes and physique conscious individuals include peanut butter in their diets because it has numerous health benefits due to the poly- and monounsaturated fats (50%) it contains, and its high protein (25%) and low carbohydrate (19%) content.
Peanuts, and therefore peanut butter, also provides vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fibre, arginine and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid. It also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as it contains resveratrol, as well as type-II diabetes, and has been proven to lower cholesterol through its monounsaturated fat content. It also contains disease-fighting plant sterols.
“The quality of the peanuts that are used in the production of peanut butter has a huge influence on the final product”
Other health benefits include fat loss, which is not something most people would usually associate with peanut butter. The high oil and subsequent high calorie content can help you stay slim by keeping you feeling full for longer. This means hunger is kept in check and your appetite can be better controlled, as it takes longer to digest. One important component of peanut butter often touted as a reason for it’s ability to assist with fat loss in this manner is oleic acid. While the reasons are not completely clear yet, oleic acid reportedly increases the production of cellular messengers that trigger the feeling of satiety (feeling full).
The product also has a low glycaemic index (GI), which stabilises blood sugar levels, thereby preventing spikes and cravings, while also delivering sustained energy. However, as with any food source, there needs to be strict portion control used when including peanut butter into your diet plan. Stick to one to two tablespoons of natural peanut butter per day.
The high protein content of peanut butter is another benefit. One portion of peanut butter (30-40g) can supply you with 8-10g of protein. With the current price of peanut butter, it is still one of the cheapest protein sources around. As such, peanut butter can be a great addition to energy-boosting snacks and helps to reduce food cravings, which is a winning combination for any health- or physique-conscious individual or athlete. So, if you don’t already have a tub of natural or organic peanut butter on your shopping list, then do your body a favour and find yourself a reputable product.
Take the recommended daily serving size of one to two tablespoons a day, which can be eaten on low GI or crisp bread, mixed into your oats or protein shake, or simply licked off a spoon as a tasty, healthy snack.
Benefits of peanut butter:
- Builds lean muscle
- Low cost source of protein (8g per two tablespoon serving)
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and type-II diabetes
- Reduces hunger and cravings
- Helps reduce weight
- Low GI helps control blood sugar levels
- High arginine levels