Peanut butter benefits: Your favorite childhood snack is healthier than you thought

For some, peanut butter may have a nostalgic feel, back to when things were less complicated and our parents cut the crusts off of our sandwiches. For others, it’s just another day, another PB&J.

In 2022, the U.S. market size for peanut butter was $2.1 billion. The bottom line? We. Love. Peanut. Butter.

What does this mean for our health?

We researched to find out the risks and benefits of eating peanut butter and the news is good – there are more benefits than risks! So let’s raise that PB&J and find out more about what peanut butter does for our bodies.

Is peanut butter healthy or junk food?

Of course when it comes to peanut butter, the brand and added sugars make a difference. But generally, the key ingredient in peanut butter is peanuts. Although not technically a "nut" (it's a legume) it shares many of the same properties as nuts, and nuts in general are great for our health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy diet that includes nuts can:

  • Enhance artery health

  • Reduce inflammation related to heart disease

  • Reduce the risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes

  • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure

  • Reduce the risk of early death due to heart disease

  • Reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels (or "bad cholesterol" and triglycerides)

What are the benefits of eating peanut butter?

Nuts are heart-healthy. Why? The Mayo Clinic further explains that nuts generally contain all kinds of healthy nutrients, like:

  • Unsaturated fats. The "good" fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower “bad cholesterol" levels.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts tend to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fatty acids. They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less.

  • Plant sterols. Some nuts naturally contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower cholesterol.

  • L-arginine. Nuts also contain L-arginine, and some research suggests that L-arginine may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and improve overall blood vessel health.

Is it safe to eat peanut butter every day?

While peanuts contain lots of good nutrients, they can also be dense in calories and fat, which can be concerning if you are attempting weight loss. However, this does not automatically make it bad, you just have to be aware of the calorie and fat content.

In an interview with Harvard Health, Dr. Walter Willett, a Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health says, “The presence of saturated fat doesn't automatically kick a food into the 'unhealthy' camp. Olive oil, wheat germ and even tofu — all 'healthy' foods — have some saturated fat. It's the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is peanut butter good for you? What to know about the benefits.