Oct. 3, 2003 -- Store-bought peanut butter is as good for you as the fresh-ground-in-the-health-food-store variety, a study shows.
That any kind of peanut butter is healthy seems too good to be true. But the lowly peanut is packed full of healthy oils and vitamin E.
Wait a minute. Doesn't processing raw peanuts into commercial peanut butter remove those healthy vitamins? No, find University of Georgia researcher Ron Eitenmiller, PhD, and colleagues. They measured vitamin E in raw peanuts, roasted peanuts, and commercial peanut butter.
The bottom line: Processing removes no more than 5% of total vitamin E from the product.
"We'd run so many studies on peanuts and peanut butters in the past, we had our suspicions that vitamin E content would remain high in the finished product," Eitenmiller says in a news release.
It's true that exposure to air erodes the vitamin E content of peanut butter. But Eitenmiller says that the commercial product's oil base and container protect against oxygen.
The findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of Food Sciences.
2 Tablespoons -- Not the Whole Jar
It's not just the vitamin E that makes peanut butter wholesome, says Leslie Bonci (pronounced BAWN-see), MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"There are some terrific health benefits to it, not just taste benefits," Bonci tells WebMD. "People get hung up on the fact that peanut butter has fat in it, but it is not as bad as other kinds of fat."
Bonci says the new findings confirm what she already knows: Grocery-store peanut butter is nutritionally the same as peanut butter freshly ground in a health-food store.
Which one should you pick? Let your personal taste be your guide, Bonci says.
"Fresh ground is not necessarily better," Bonci says. "The fat and calorie content are pretty much the same whether you grind your own or buy commercial peanut butter. The monounsaturated fat is still there."
But please remember this: Nothing is healthy unless portions are kept under control. Too much of a good thing is too much.
"The serving size is two tablespoons -- not the whole jar," Bonci warns.