Peanut butter comes in many forms: crunchy, smooth, no salt added, reduced fat, soy and more. In the United States, common brands of peanut butter include Jif, Peter Pan and Skippy, and several others are also available. Organic, or raw, peanut butter is typically healthier than refined, or processed, peanut butter, though the tastes of both will differ. People with allergies to peanuts should avoid eating peanut butter entirely.
Peanut butter is 8 percent dietary fiber, which can help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Dietary fiber is beneficial; it has been proven to reduce the danger of colo-rectal cancer and atherosclerosis, both common ailments in the United States. Peanut butter is also high in protein and micro-nutrients like Vitamin E and B3, along with minerals like iron, potassium and calcium. Raw peanut butter has more nutrients than refined peanut butter.
Peanuts have a natural nutrient called resveratrol, which is generated from the peanut plant to fight off harmful agents like bacteria and fungi. Resveratrol gives anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties to people when it's consumed. Animal studies suggest that resveratrol could have cancer-fighting, life-prolonging and anti-aging health benefits.
The Nurses' Health Study tested the benefits of peanut butter on 80,000 women over the course of 20 years. They found that eating a minimum of one ounce of peanut butter on a weekly basis reduced their risk of developing gallstones by 25 percent. The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that in 3,000 men over the age of 65, those getting a daily dose of at least 22 mg of nicacin, which is found in peanut butter, were 70 percent less likely to get Alzheimer's disease.
Peanut butter is widely used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For a healthier, potassium-filled option, try a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Potassium-rich diets can reduce hypertension. The recommended serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons, approximately the size of a ping pong ball. It can be a tasty dip with healthy snacks such as apples, celery sticks or carrots.
Peanut butter is one of the most calorie-filled spreads sold in the United States, with approximately 589 calories per 100 grams. Seventy-one percent of the calories in peanut butter come from fats. Refined peanut butter is particularly bad, as it is more likely to have additional trans-fatty acids, which can increase the risk of cardio-circulatory disease. Processed peanut butter is also a potential host for a mold that creates aflatoxin, which is carcinogenic.