Why Do We Love Peanut Butter?
I firmly believe that nut butter is the greatest uplevel to nuts that's ever happened.
In truth, there's so much to love about nut butter, in all its glorious variety. Nowadays you can enjoy all sorts of pulverised nuts as a creamy, smooth or crunchy spread. You may commonly see almond butter, cashew butter, Brazil nut butter or different combinations of these together. However, there's a special place in my heart, and my fridge, for peanut butter. It remains the ol' faithful of nut butters that the whole family enjoys.
But, why do we love peanut butter? There's something about the mouthfeel, combined with the flavour of this particular nut butter. It bestrides both savoury and sweet territories, which means no matter what your craving is, peanut butter is there to help.
Peanut butter is a perennial favourite because it's also the most affordable among the lot. Trends may come and go for other nut butter varieties (which are delicious and also healthy), but sometimes your budget doesn't allow for these indulgences. It's also popular among fitness enthusiasts due to its high protein content. It contains sulphur-based amino acids like cysteine and methionine, which give it a unique and delicious umami flavour that cannot be found in other nut butters.
For more nutty musings, check out my joyful tribute to peanuts (both the nuts and Charlie Brown).
What Goes Into Your Peanut Butter?
It's pretty simple. As all good things should be. Peanut butter in its purest form is just ground nuts. The peanuts can be roasted (highly recommended) and a pinch of salt can be added to augment its flavour and natural richness. It's your choice whether to go for crunchy or smooth, or even something in between. Either way, the health benefits are the same. Just be sure to check the ingredients list for any extra additions, such as sugar, vegetable oil or stabilisers. None of this stuff is needed, and you're unlikely to see these ingredients used in high-quality nut butter brands and providers.
Nutrient Content & Health Benefits of Eating Peanut Butter
Let’s discuss some of the health benefits associated with eating peanut butter.
Peanuts, and relatedly peanut butter, are an excellent source of plant-based protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. Peanut butter is a good source of dietary fibre, is rich in protein, and is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, zinc and other minerals. Vitamin E, choline, resveratrol and antioxidants all appear abundantly in peanut butter as well.
Here's a breakdown of the nutrient content of peanut butter.
Nutrient Profile of Peanut Butter
The macronutrient profile of one tablespoon of peanut butter is as follows:
- 3.5 grams of carbs
- 4 grams of protein
- 8 grams of fat
Here's the vitamin and mineral content of peanut butter:
- Omega 3 and 6 fats
- B1, B3, folate
And here's the amino acid profile of peanut butter
Peanut Amino Acids
Research On The Health Benefits of Peanut Butter Consumption
There is a decent body of evidence showing peanut butter as being a healthful addition to any diet. The macronutrient content (fats, carbs, protein) as well as the phytochemical profile all account for the health-giving benefits of peanut butter. Scientific data reveals that peanut butter can help with brain function and development, mood regulation, hormone health, and cardiovascular function and can also reduce the risk of the onset of certain cancers.
Here's what some of the studies show.
Peanut butter is rich in the vitamin-like compound, choline, which is important for cell membrane function and brain health. In fact, choline is an essential compound needed for new brain cell growth (neurogenesis), with recent research suggesting that choline may be just as important as folate for proper foetal development during pregnancy.
Peanut butter demonstrates anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2021 study from Advances in Nutrition revealed that eating tree nuts and peanuts can help lower the risk of getting various types of cancer, including colon, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Peanut butter has been shown to increase the bioavailability of certain vitamins in other foods. A meta-analysis study from 2017 showed that the consumption of peanut butter helps with the conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A. This nutrient is important for vision as well as immune and respiratory function.
Peanut butter consumption is also directly correlated to better cognitive function, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease. Researchers found that participants who did not eat peanuts or peanut butter were more likely to do poorly on 3 different cognition and memory tests compared to those who did eat peanuts or peanut butter.
Peanuts are high in resveratrol, flavonoids and plant sterols, which are polyphenols known for their disease-preventing properties and promotion of longevity. Many of these bioactive compounds exert a stronger antioxidant effect after they’ve been exposed to heat. Researchers found that skin-on roasted peanuts have an increased resveratrol potency of up to 75%. This translates to a powerful protective action on the cardiovascular system.
Peanut Butter Is A Healthy & Versatile Nutty Spread
So, is peanut butter healthy? I think yes. The good news is that research suggests there are many benefits associated with eating peanut butter. Thanks to its delicious flavour and rich texture, many of us love to indulge in this sweet and salty treat. So now you know you can enjoy it without jeopardising your health. Enjoy natural peanut butter as a healthy and delicious snack in a variety of ways. It’s balanced and perfect for any time of the day. So go ahead and whip up some of these delicious recipes today.
Delicious & Healthy Peanut Butter Recipes
How does a recipe for gluten-free peanut butter cookies sound? What about a banoffee pie with the added deliciousness of peanut butter? If that doesn't entice you, a vegan peanut butter ice cream recipe sure should.
Whatever ails you, peanut butter is the fix. Enjoy the feel-good nutrients, healthy fats and irresistible mouth-welding texture of peanut butter.
Check out these wonderfully moreish and relatively healthy peanut butter recipes.
Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together peanut butter, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, egg and baking soda until well combined.
- Using your hands or a cookie scoop, shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place them onto the prepared baking tray.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool completely before serving.
Overnight Peanut Butter Oats
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegans)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Optional toppings: sliced bananas, chopped nuts, extra peanut butter
- In a mason jar or container with a lid, mix together the rolled oats, almond milk, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined.
- Place the lid on the container and shake until everything is mixed well. Alternatively, you can stir everything together in a bowl.
- Refrigerate the container overnight, or for at least 4 hours, to allow the oats to absorb the liquid and soften.
- When ready to serve, give the oats a good stir and add additional milk if needed to reach your desired consistency.
- Top with sliced bananas, chopped nuts, and extra peanut butter if desired.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen strawberries (or mixed berries of your choice)
- 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
- 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
- 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegans)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
- Add the frozen strawberries, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, and chia seeds or flaxseed (if using) to a blender.
- Blend everything together until smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.
- Pour the smoothie into a glass and serve immediately.
Peanut Butter Balls
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup ground flaxseeds or chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey or maple syrup and coconut oil until well combined.
- Mix in the rolled oats, ground flaxseed or chia seeds, cinnamon and dark chocolate chips until everything is fully incorporated.
- Take a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and roll it into balls with your hands. Place the peanut butter balls on a baking paper-lined baking tray and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Enjoy the peanut butter balls straight from the freezer or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Peanut Butter Banoffee Pie
- 1 pre-made shortcrust pastry shell
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- Chocolate shavings (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 220°C.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a pie dish and cover with foil. Place the dish inside a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides of the pie dish.
- Bake for 1-1.5 hours, until the condensed milk has thickened and turned a caramel colour. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Once the caramel has cooled, spread it evenly onto the bottom of the shortcrust shell.
- Peel and slice the bananas into rounds, and arrange them on top of the caramel layer.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter and heavy cream until smooth and well combined. Spread this peanut butter mixture on top of the bananas.
- Whip the powdered sugar and remaining heavy cream together until stiff peaks form. Spread this whipped cream on top of the peanut butter layer.
- If desired, sprinkle chocolate shavings on top of the whipped cream.
- Chill the pie in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until the filling is set.
- Slice and serve cold.
Peanut Butter Pretzels
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (220g) peanut butter
- 3/4 cup (180ml) warm water
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 175°C and prepare a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until well combined. Add in the peanut butter and mix until everything is evenly distributed.
- Slowly pour in the warm water, stirring as you go to form a dough.
- Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, or until a smooth ball forms.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece out into long ropes, about 1cm thick.
- Twist each rope to form a pretzel shape and place them on a baking tray.
- If desired, sprinkle the pretzels with coarse sea salt.
- Bake the pretzels at 175°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let them cool completely before serving.