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Myths vs. Facts: Is Peanut Butter Good For You?

is peanut butter good for you
Peanut butter contains many good nutrients, but some brands add ingredients that aren’t so healthy.

Peanut butter is a staple in about 94 percent of households in the U.S. The average American eats about 3 pounds of peanut butter per year, according to the National Peanut Board. That adds up to approximately 700 million pounds of peanut butter consumed across the country annually. It’s also estimated that the average American child eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating from high school.

Is Peanut Butter Good for You?

It may depend on what’s in your particular jar. Check out the facts below to help determine whether the peanut butter you eat is actually good for you.

Peanut butter contains several nutrients that are good for your health.

Fact. Peanut butter is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). It’s also high in vitamin E, niacin and potassium. Vitamin E is important to normal immune function and helps your body get rid of harmful free radicals.

Niacin, a B vitamin, helps maintain normal nerve function and metabolizes energy from the foods you eat. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and supports normal heart rhythms.

It’s important to read labels carefully when choosing peanut butter.

Fact. As with any product, it’s important to pay close attention to food labels. Some brands of peanut butter only contain peanuts and a bit of salt. Others add sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides and other ingredients that are not so healthy.

Have Other Nutrition Questions?

Learn more about the nutrition services available at UVA.

Most of the calories in peanut butter come from fat.

Fact. A 1-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains about 95 calories. This is made up of approximately 8 grams of fat (68 calories), 4 grams of carbohydrates (15 calories) and 3 ½ grams of protein (13 calories).

Reduced-fat peanut butter is better for you than full-fat peanut butter.

Myth. Many brands add sugar, salt, or preservatives to enhance the flavor and texture lost by taking out the fat. Thanks to these unhealthy trade-offs, you’re usually better off sticking with the regular stuff but limiting portion sizes.

Some brands of peanut butter only contain about 75% peanuts.

Myth. Any product labeled as “peanut butter” must contain at least 90% peanuts by weight, according to regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


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