The Nutritional Facts on Peanut Butter

The Nutritional Facts on Peanut Butter

While peanut butter can help you build muscle, choosing the right type makes all the nutritional difference.

Family Guy lovers, guess what? It’s PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!

When I saw the 1R facebook wall request for, “an article on PEANUT BUTTER!!!!!,” I was ecstatic. The DIY peanut butter machine at Whole Foods brings much joy in my life, so I really appreciate that type of PB enthusiasm. However, in researching this article I found out that there’s some serious peanut loving competition around the globe. An Aussie, Adrian Finch, holds the Guinness World Record for peanut throwing (111 feet and 10 inches in 1999) while another wacko, Tom Miller, pushed a peanut to the top of Pike's Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds. Yeah… people are weird.

So back to what you actually care about: peanut butter and how good it is for that aspiring beach body of yours. Let me lay it out for you, plain and simple: peanut butter is a great muscle-building addition to your chicken/broccoli/protein shake diet, but before you reach for the Reese’s, or even for the Jif, there’s a lot to know about those nutty little guys.

First, if you take a look at the nutrition facts, you’ll notice peanuts are calorically dense and high in fat. That’s where peanut butter’s negative rap (and deliciousness) stems from, and why many critics give it a bad name. What you should know, though, is the fat is mostly the good kind (unsaturated), and that peanuts are loaded with vitamins and minerals along with a decent supply of protein.

Which is why, if you’re working out (and let’s be serious, we all know you’re working out), a couple of tablespoons before bed, or throughout the day, should be plenty as they’ll help fill you up, give you the calories you need to put on mass, and help naturally boost your testosterone levels (…as if you needed that). Hence the reason it made Alyssa’s Top 10 Foods for Your Dorm Room, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t already given it a read.

So why aren’t all peanut butters created equal? Unless you were too busy hitting on girls (or guys) in your 2nd grade science class to pay attention to Bill Nye the Science Guy, you know that oil and water don’t mix. That’s precisely the same reason why mashed up peanuts naturally separate from their oils when they sit for too long. What then is Mister Skippy or Mister Jif to do?? Either let customers deal with mixing it on their own (God forbid!), OR, use a certain awful ingredient to kill two birds with one stone, keeping peanut butter and oil perfectly dispersed while extending its shelf life.

Doesn’t take a genius to figure out which choice these companies opt for:

I spy with my little eye: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil! Ew. You guys know that’s just a fancy way of saying TRANS FATS. Why do you need to increase your risk of heart disease/cancer with your Ants on A Log? Um… you don’t. As it turns out, what you really need is to make sure there are a limited number of ingredients in your peanut butter: Peanuts and salt (and maybe a little sugar or honey if you like it sweet). In other words, avoid processed peanut butter.

Thankfully you don’t have to make it on your own to enjoy all of the benefits of non-processed peanut butter. All you have to do is ALWAYS look for the word “natural” on your peanut butter jars. Sure that means there’s going to be some stirring involved, but before you complain, think of the gym time you put in earlier. Stirring a little peanut butter is a hell of a lot easier than busting out set after set of hammer curls.

What then is the key takeaway when thinking about peanut butter, its nutrition facts, and how it fits into your healthy diet? Look at the ingredients, and go au naturale for those PBJs/Peanut butter banana sandwiches/Ants-on-a-log, etc. Look for brands like Smuckers Natural, Arrowhead Mills, Maranantha’s, and Peanut Butter & Co. at pretty much any grocery store, and you’ll have steered clear of dreaded trans fats. Of course, it’s on you to handle portion control and keep it to less than 2 tablespoons per serving but given the fact that you’re here, I think you can handle that.

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About the Author

Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.