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Sun 24 Jan, 2016

Peanut Butter: The Good, The Bad and The Recipes


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Believe it or not, there is a national day dedicated to peanut butter, and that day is today. So what better way to celebrate than to dedicate a post to all the great things peanut butter can provide? Peanut butter is rightfully popular amongst fitness fanatics, as well as the general public, so here we will be covering all of its benefits, what you need to watch out for, as well as some inspiration for your next peanut butter recipe:

The Good

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Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease:

Studies have shown that peanut butter consumption can indeed reduce the risk of issues such as coronary heart disease, thanks to “heart-healthy” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats actually help balance out the good and bad cholesterol to promote an overall healthier cardiovascular system.

Provides the body with essential amino acids:

Peanut butter can be especially useful for those who practise a vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free diet (Paleo dieters often opt for other nut butters, such as cashew butter, or hazelnut butter), as it provides the body with essential amino acids needed for the synthesis of protein. Usually, all nine essential amino acids are found within meat and dairy, but combining healthier alternatives, such as legumes and nuts, will also help you get all the essential amino acids into your diet.

Rich in Magnesium:

Including peanut butter into your diet can help you reach your recommended daily amount of important minerals such as magnesium, which helps maintain healthy muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also helps promote a stronger immune system while regulating blood sugar levels and keeping bones strong.

Rich in Vitamins:

Peanuts also provide your body with plenty of vitamins that support a range of important functions, including vitamin B and E. Vitamin B (Thiamine) has been known to support a healthy nervous system while Vitamin E has been found to prevent the oxidation of fatty acids, also contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system.

The Bad

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High in Calories:

The solution? Everything in moderation. The amount of good fats, healthy minerals and vitamins present in peanut butter means that the high calorie content really doesn’t outweigh the pros. Of course, if you don’t exercise and consume several tubs of peanut butter a day, there’s a high chance you will put on weight. So although this is considered a negative for some, it’s also a negative of other foods that you consume too much of, rather than a negative of peanut butter itself. On the other hand, for someone looking to bulk up or put on weight, this could be the perfect answer.

High in Salt, Sugar and Unhealthy Oils:

This one again is only a negative if you are talking about highly processed peanut butter that includes excess oil, salt and sugar. It’s important to buy peanut butter that includes as little ingredients as possible, ideally just peanuts and salt! Any other extras such as palm oil and sugar are unnecessary “filler” ingredients and means the overall nutritional content of the peanut butter is reduced. Don’t be fooled by brands hiding behind buzzwords such as “natural” either. Just because something is natural it doesn’t mean it’s healthy and a lot of companies use this term to trick people into buying something that isn’t beneficial to their health.

So the conclusion? Peanut butter is only “bad” if you eat far too much of it and end up putting on extra pounds (as with any type of food), or if you are buying peanut butter spreads or “natural” peanut butter that actually include unnecessary ingredients which only end up doing your health more harm than good, no matter how natural they may be.

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The Recipes:

If you don’t already know, peanut butter can be used for more than just a sandwich. Try the ideas below if you are planning on celebrating all the benefits of peanut butter, not just on National Peanut Butter Day, but all year long too:

  • Try peanut butter with coconut milk and thai curry paste for a creamy, delicious spin on your favourite homemade curry.
  • Use peanut butter to create a peanut sauce for a tofu and vegetable dish with noodles.
  • Mix peanut butter with almond milk, maple syrup, oats and chia seeds for an overnight oat recipe. Enjoy the next day with slices of banana, strawberries or blueberries.
  • Mix with quinoa to create small, nutritional snack balls as a pre or post workout snack.

Of course peanut butter is also perfect for desserts. For a healthy dessert alternative, why not try an avocado and peanut butter pudding recipe?