Peanut Butter: Health Food or Junk Food?

One of the most popular fitness foods there is. For whatever reason, we all love it. On oats, toast or in smoothies, this versatile food is a staple for many!

Unfortunately, nut butters are also incredibly calorie dense. Without being someone who is familiar with weighing/tracking food, it would be easy to misjudge a serving size and end the day way over your calorie allowance.

Health:

Many of the components of peanut butter are incredibly useful for an individual who regularly exercises, or anyone who wants to make better wholefood choices, and avoid reliance on supplements to meet their needs. Some of which, we will mention below:

Vitamins- High in vitamin E, an antioxidant which many of us don't get enough of from our food. Vitamin E helps to strengthen the immune system and protect us against free radicals in the atmosphere. Peanut butter is also high in B vitamins. Each vitamin has its own unique benefits, but generally they promote healthy metabolism and function of major organs.

Minerals- Peanut butter contains high levels of various minerals, including magnesium. Magnesium, a key component of ZMA, is commonly supplemented by athletes for its part in muscle and nerve function and bone health. Other notable minerals include potassium, an electrolyte key to maintaining fluid balance in the body, copper, phosphorus and zinc.

'Good' Fats- Peanut butter comes under the bracket of 'monounsaturated fat'. Often considered 'healthy fats', monounsaturated fats include sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Key to bone health. Fats are important in the diet for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A,D, E, K), satiety and hormone regulation. Nut butters are also often vegan (excluding those infused with whey), perfect for individuals who cannot meet fat requirements from dairy, meat or eggs!

Examples of monounsaturated fats

Junk?:

Not all peanut butters were created equal. Some cheaper, supermarket options are loaded with sugar, sodium and palm oil- an unsustainable vegetable oil which is not on a par with other oils such as coconut, macadamia or avocado.

If going for an unflavoured option, preferably choose a 100% peanut version such as Meridian. There will be some oil separation which but many prefer the runnier, meltier texture and natural taste!

As already mentioned, peanut butter is extremely calorie dense. If you weigh one food all day, make it your peanut butter! A small serving goes a long way on hot oatmeal, and you can always add other sweet additions such as berries for sweetness and volume.

Some of our other special flavoured peanut butters are a little lower in calories due to some of the fats being replaced with protein. Powdered peanut butter can be great for a low calorie version of the taste, but the healthy fat content is much less. This is where you need to weigh up what is more important- health benefits or macros? Explore our full range of options here.

Conclusion:

There are plenty of benefits to natural peanut butter, which we think make up for the calories! While we recommend eating any food in moderation, a serving or two of peanut butter a day certainly won't do any harm! We would also recommend getting your daily fats from a variety of sources. These might include; steak, salmon and/or high quality dark chocolate.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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