It may have been one of your favorites as a kid, but there's no need to stop eating peanut butter as an adult. Including peanut butter in your diet offers a number of health benefits, from helping you manage your weight to improving heart health.
Healthy Fats, Healthy Heart
Peanut butter is high in calories with 188 calories per 2 tablespoons, and 75 percent of those calories come from fat. But most of the fat in peanut butter comes from monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats.
When you fill your diet with foods rich in monounsaturated fats like peanut butter, instead of saturated fats, it helps lower your cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association, and reduces your risk heart attack and stroke.
Although it is high in calories, eating peanut butter may help you maintain a healthy weight. According to a report published in 2008 in The Journal of Nutrition, people who eat nuts have a lower body mass index than non-nut eaters. It appears that foods like peanut butter help manage hunger, the report goes on to say, but it's not quite understood how it works.
But that's not all. A study published in 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that supplementing the diet with 2 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter at breakfast helped control appetite in a group of obese women.
Get Your Protein
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 classifies nuts as a protein food and recommends you replace some of your usual sources of protein, such as meat and chicken, with more nuts such as peanut butter. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein, which is about the same amount in 1 ounce of meat. While daily protein needs vary depending on health and activity, the recommended dietary allowance of protein is 46 grams a day for women and 56 grams a day for men.
Peanut butter is a good source of a few antioxidants, including vitamin E, manganese and selenium.
Every day your body is under attack by substances called free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, change DNA and increase your risk of developing illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
The antioxidants in peanut butter act as your body's defense against these harmful substances. Getting your antioxidants from natural foods such as peanut butter may be more beneficial to your overall health than getting them from a pill or fortified food, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.