Peanut butter is absolutely delicious, let’s get that out of the way first. Peanut butter on toast is like having dessert for breakfast and is absolutely a great way to start the day. It’s crunch, it’s sweet, but it also has that savory side to it that prevents it from being sickly. Mix it with jam and you have something even more sublime.
But did you know that peanut butter is also an ideal health food? It’s super high in protein – so high in fact that many bodybuilders will eat it with a spoon at times – and it also contains all of the health benefits you would usually associate with nuts (i.e. lots of healthy fats and important minerals).
Let’s take a look at just how healthy it is by discovering some of the very top health benefits of peanut butter!
As mentioned, peanut butter is an ideal source of protein. How much protein? Well, two tablespoons of the stuff will get you a good 7 grams of protein. That’s not a huge amount but it’s equivalent to an egg.
Protein is super-important for general health because it is literally what the body is made of. When we eat any source of protein, the body breaks that down into amino acids. These are then in turn re-used to form muscle, tissue and even amino acids (brain chemicals) helping us rebuild and even heal from wounds.
Need more health benefits of peanut butter? Getting more potassium in your diet is only ever a good thing and especially because of the high quantities of salt that most of us eat. Potassium balances out your electrolytes and thereby ensures that you nerve signals make their way around the body and you don’t cramp up. And yes, it’s also very good for the heart!
Peanut butter is fatty and many people think that’s a bad thing. In some ways it is: fat is higher in calories than protein or carbs and specifically contains 9 calories per gram as opposed to 4.
But while that might sound alarming, the difference is in the way that fats release their energy. Unlike eating carbs, eating fats will result in a slow release of energy throughout the day. This means that you’ll be sustained through your daily tasks as you work and play and you’ll be able to exercise, to work and to play without crashing. Crucially, it means that you won’t have a sudden rush of energy, followed by a trough that leaves you craving more food.
In other words, choose peanut butter for breakfast and you should stay fuller for longer, making it easier not to snack as the day progresses.
Fats are also good for us in other ways too. Did you know that fats help us to absorb other nutrients? Fat soluble nutrients can only be absorbed into the body if a suitable fat source is present and so it follows that the benefits of peanut butter may actually be enhances as a result of being surrounded by saturated fat.
Now I know what you might be thinking: isn’t fat meant to be bad for your heart? As it turns out, this is actually not true. As it turns out, this research was based on a weak correlation and has failed to be replicated in more recent studies. In other words, we have no reason to think that saturated fats cause harm. In fact, Mediterranean diets with lots of fats appear to be beneficial for the heart.
Is peanut butter suitable for a low-carb breakfast option? Yes, but only if you go with the plainer version without the added sugar!
Peanut butter is a good source of fiber as well. This can provide a wide range of different benefits by helping to clear the digestive tracts and the bowels. In other words, fiber can help to keep things flowing smoothly, while also lowering blood pressure. This is a simple but important health benefit of peanut butter.
As well as potassium, peanut butter also contains a range of other important vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamin E for example, which is a powerful antioxidant and which is very good for the skin. For these reasons, peanut butter might help you to improve your complexion, while also slowing down the signs of aging by minimizing the effects of reactive compounds in your body. Of course this is only a minor effect but if you eat peanut butter regularly, it adds up!
Likewise, peanut butter is also high in magnesium. Magnesium is an incredibly useful mineral that helps with muscle relaxation during sleep and thereby ensures that we get off more soundly at night. At the same time, magnesium also appears to encourage brain plasticity. This is the process that the brain goes through when it learns new concepts and involves the creation of new neurons and new connections between those existing neurons. This helps to boost our mood and our focus, while also making it easier to learn new subjects. It’s especially good for children, so it’s handy that kids love peanut butter!
Then there is the zinc. Zinc is also good for your brain health and on top of that, it can actually strengthen your sense of smell! Peanut butter also contains vitamin B6, this is an important vitamin that helps the body to make better use of the energy from carbohydrates. That’s just one more way in which peanut butter can help you to feel more energetic for longer.
As you can see then, peanut butter is packed with nutrients and is about as far from an ‘empty calorie’ as it gets!
While it’s true that peanut butter is packed with goodness and there are countless health benefits of peanut butter, it’s also highly important to remember that it is also fairly high in calories and sugar. If you’re going to eat large quantities of peanut butter, you might risk weight gain – so be sensible and remember that everything is best in moderation!
Still, I just give you a free license to go out and enjoy peanut butter toast…