Peanut Butter - Is It Healthy? Is It Good To Eat Regularly? Organic vs. Not Organic
Many people today have learned from multiple sources that peanut butter is unhealthy and fattening. This is not surprising considering the fact that most peanut butter consumed comes from brands which contain unhealthy and fattening additives. These additives include hydrogenated vegetable oil, refined sugar and stabilizers which have proven to be unhealthy and fattening.
In addition, these non-organic peanut butters often come from crops which are rotated with cotton, which is treated with chemicals too toxic to be used on food crops. The residue is transferred to peanut crops the following year. Health experts believe that these toxins are responsible for peanut allergies experienced by many individuals.
Hydrogenated oil, which is mainly used to prolong shelf life produces trans-fats which are a major cause of heart disease and many other health conditions. Refined sugar promotes blood sugar problems leading to obesity and robs the body of B vitamins. Mono and diglycerides are used as emulsifiers. Manufacturers claim they are a non-fat but do not have to state their source, their contribution to calories or whether they are hydrogenated.
The only type of peanut butter which is healthy and non-fattening is unrefined, organic peanut butter containing only organic roasted peanuts with or without salt. No emulsifiers are used so the oil separates and settles at the top of the jar. The peanuts must be roasted because this process eliminates cancer-causing mold aflatoxins which can develop in raw peanuts. Roasting has the added benefit of increasing antioxidant potency.
Many people believe that because peanut butter contains saturated fat that it cannot be healthy or promote weight loss. The presence of saturated fat doesn’t make a food unhealthy or contribute to weight gain. Many healthy foods contain saturated fat such as tofu, wheat germ and olive oil. Peanut butter has the same ratio of saturated fat to unsaturated fat as olive oil. When determining whether a food is healthy the whole package must be considered.
Peanut butter is composed mostly of unsaturated fat which is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol. It also contains polyunsaturated fat which raises HDL cholesterol, helping to balance cholesterol levels. Although peanut butter is calorie dense, only small amounts are needed because it is very filling and satisfying. When eaten in the right quantities, it is more effective and healthy for weight control than low calorie diet foods.
Peanut butter is fairly high in dietary fiber which helps regulate blood cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. Studies have shown that individuals who eat nuts and nut butters are far less likely to gain weight than those who do not.
Peanut butter contains several other nutrients which include protein, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and potassium. It also contains resveratrol which is an anti-microbial agent able to protect against bacteria, viruses and funguses. Other benefits of resveratrol included lowered risk of heart disease, cancer and slowing of the aging process.
Research shows that peanut butter is effective in combatting diseases. A number of studies have shown that niacin rich foods like peanut butter protect against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Several nutrients in peanut butter have been found effective at cancer prevention. These nutrients include phytosterols, folic acid, phytic acid and resveratrol. The risk of colon cancer has been decreased with regular consumption of peanut butter. A large study that took place over twenty years showed that woman who eat nuts, peanuts or peanut butter regularly have a lower risk of developing gallstones.
As always, the negative health effects associate with botanically based foods such as peanut butter has to do with adding unhealthy ingredients to it, or refining it in a way which only benefits the manufacturer. Unrefined, organic peanut butter is very healthy and a wise choice for long term health maintenance.