Peanut Butter Packs a Healthy Punch
Peanut Butter, Nuts Contain Vitamins That Many American Diets Lack
Dec. 15, 2004 -- Eating two spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar
may seem like a guilty pleasure, but new research shows it could be a healthy
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that men, women, and
children who ate a daily dose of peanuts or peanut butter were better able to
meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamins and nutrients than
those who steered clear.
A single serving of peanut butter is equal to two tablespoons. One ounce of
nuts equals one serving.
Including peanuts and peanut butter daily in a calorie-balanced diet can
help meet nutrient goals set by the U.S. government, nutritionist and study
researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, says in a news release. The study was
funded in part by The Peanut Institute.
The findings are published in the December issue of the Journal of
American College of Nutrition.
Specifically, the diets of peanut and peanut butter eaters were higher in
vitamins A and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and fiber. Nuts
are also loaded with monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to lower
In recent years peanut butter and nuts have been shown to be part of a
A Harvard study in 2002 showed that women who regularly ate peanut butter
and nuts had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. And the more they ate, the
lower their risk was. And in July 2003 the FDA approved a qualified health
claim for almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts for use
in advertising and package labels.
Packages of nut products that meet the FDA's requirement can now carry the
"Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces
per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol,
may reduce the risk of heart disease." An ounce and a half serving of nuts
is about a third of a cup or a small handful.
In this new study, the researchers found that men and children who regularly
ate nuts had lower cholesterol. There was no significant effect in women.
But peanuts and peanut butter are high in fat, so there's a concern that
eating too much could make a person gain weight.
The researchers found that calorie intake was indeed higher in people who
regularly ate nuts. However, BMI -- an indicator of body fat -- was actually
lower in nut eaters.
If you are allergic to peanuts, you do not have to eat peanut butter to get
essential vitamins and nutrients. There are other ways to increase your intake
of vitamins and minerals, such as eating more fruits and vegetables.
Want to learn more about the healthy
effects of nuts and peanut butter? Check out what Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD,
director of nutrition for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic has to say.