November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month! What better way to celebrate than eating some of this delicious treat? Peanuts have been an important part of the American diet since the late 19th century, although the origins trace back to the Aztecs. The peanut butter that you are familiar with today was actually created by a chemist, Marcellus Gilmore Edson as he wanted it to have a “butter-like” consistency, hence the name! Peanut butter was originally sold for just 6 cents per pound and was used as a nutritious staple for patients and older people who had trouble chewing. Today, peanut butter is not only used for the classic PB&J sandwiches, it can also be served as a spread, dip, in cookies, in many ethnic dishes, and even in some beauty products!
Peanut butter is very “calorie dense,” meaning it has a lot of calories per bite. Remember that it is still a great source of protein and healthy fat, so don’t overdo it and stick to a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter per day. One serving of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons, is the size of a ping pong ball. Peanut butter is packed with both omega- 3 and omega-6 fatty acids, known for their heart-healthy benefits, and is also protein and fiber rich, which keeps you fuller longer. It is also great source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, vitamin B6, an immunity booster, magnesium, a bone strengthener, and potassium which is good for your muscles.
There are a few types of peanut butter including “regular” (i.e. Jif or Skippy), “natural” (i.e. only peanuts and salt in the ingredient list) and “organic” (i.e. only USDA certified organic peanuts and salt in the ingredient list). All types of peanut butter have roughly the same number of calories and the same amount of fat, however regular peanut butter contains trans fats, which can be recognized as “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient list. With no added sugar or preservatives, the natural and organic peanut butters are overall a healthier choice, but if they are out of your price range or you simply don’t like the taste or texture, you can still get the benefits from regular peanut butter! If you’re willing to put in the work, shelling your own peanuts and adding peanut oil to a blender is the most natural, freshest peanut butter!
Not only is peanut butter healthy for you, but it tastes great and is very versatile! In addition to your usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, here are some ideas on how to incorporate peanut butter into your everyday life:
- Serve as a dip for apple slices
- Spread on your banana or celery
- Add into a smoothie with some frozen banana and almond milk
- Stir into your oatmeal
- Add on top of some apple- cinnamon rice cakes
- Mix with some melted dark chocolate
There are definitely some misconceptions about peanut butter, so let’s set the record straight. Start your day off with some peanut butter on your toast and end your night with a small amount of dark chocolate topped with a dab of peanut butter and you will understand what this peanut butter hype is all about!
Melissa is a Health Science major at Boston University. She is a tour guide for BU Admissions, teaches swimming lessons at BU’s Fitness and Recreation center, a member of the Nutrition Club and a member of the neuroscience club.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins