So… I LOVE peanut butter! It’s packed with protein and is great with apples for a quick yet filling snack. Sometimes if I want something sweet and kinda salty I’ll pop a tablespoon on my plate to stop the craving. I have at least two tablespoons per day. But is it bad for you? Last year someone told me that peanut butter is terrible for you! I was so sad, but is there any merit to it?
An article from the Harvard Heart Letter suggests that peanut butter in moderation is ok. People who eat nuts or nut butters regularly are “less likely to develop heart disease or type two diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts”.
The concern about peanut butter mostly falls into three categories; the unsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio, sodium, and hydrogenated oils.
According to the Harvard Heart Letter, the ratio of saturated fat to unsaturated fat in peanut butter is about 3:12 or about 80% unsaturated fat. Olive oil has about the same ratio. Saturated fats are ok in moderation, but consuming large amounts can cause artherosclerosis and lead to heart disease. Unsaturated fat can help decrease bad cholesterol and lower your chances of getting heart disease.
Regular peanut butter is loaded with sodium. It has about the same amount of sodium of some processed sandwich meats (i.e. bologna).
Hydrogenated oils are used in peanut butter to give it a smooth texture, but are only one molecule away from being plastic (imagine this stuff floating in your veins!!!!). The Huffington Post article states that some natural peanut butters (w/out the hydrogenated oils) contain palm oil which is full of saturated fats. Its is also bad for the environment as it strips natural habitats from animals that live in Malaysian and Indonesian Palm trees.
So what is my take on all of this? I will not eat peanut butter everyday now. I will try my best to eat it only once a week or less. I will not eliminate it completely from my diet because there are benefits to eating nuts. But I will definitely minimize how much I’m eating, for my heart’s sake. We get routine cleanings of our teeth but not of our hearts. Clogging can happen over time, and unclogging only happens after a catastrophic health occurrence (i.e. heart attack). Be mindful of what’s flowing through your veins and your heart!