Peanut Butter - Healthy Snack

Trying to avoid chocolate or other tasty sweets? Try some healthy peanut butter as an alternative. Peanut butter tastes great while improving your health. It contains fat and calories, but most of the fats in peanut butter are healthy fats. The product also contains nutrients for an inexpensive addition to your diet.

Peanut butter contains some saturated fat, but should not cause health issues when consumed in moderation. A serving, or 2 tablespoons, of peanut butter has 3.3 grams of saturated fat to 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, according to the “Harvard Heart Letter.” Just as you eat lean meats, skinless poultry or low-fat and fat-free dairy products to avoid too many saturated fats, eating moderate amounts of peanut butter once in a while to flavor your lunch or snacks avoids high-fat intake.

The monounsaturated fats, which outnumber saturated fats in peanut butter, provide heart benefits associated with healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that can accumulate in the arteries, and raises levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, which helps flush out excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.

The protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fats in peanut butter give you an energy boost. Peanut butter also provides a full feeling to satisfy your hunger. The niacin, phosphorus and magnesium in peanut butter add to its healthful content. Peanut butter also contains antioxidants and oleic fatty acid, which may benefit the heart, according to the Health Services at Columbia University.

The vitamin E in peanut butter also helps protect against heart disease. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage. Peanut butter has the same amount of vitamin E as in whole peanuts. The commercial processing does not affect the content of the vitamin. A study by the USDA of commercial and natural peanut butters showed that neither contained detectable amounts of trans fats, which raise cholesterol levels.

The “Harvard Heart Letter” points out that research shows people who regularly consume nuts or peanut butter have a less-likely chance of developing heart disease or type-2 diabetes than those who rarely include nuts in their diets. Although peanut butter contains sodium, it has about twice as much potassium to counter the effects salt may have on the heart.

Try a peanut butter, skim milk and banana smoothie by mixing the items with ice in a blender. Use peanut butter instead of cream cheese on celery. A healthy breakfast includes peanut butter on whole-grain English muffins, toast or crackers. Dip fruits or carrots in peanut butter for a nutritious snack. Make yourself a peanut butter-and-non-jelly sandwich by using apple slices instead of jelly.

…… J. Shaw, Health Editor