Though Americans consume an average of 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year, according to The Peanut Institute, many perceive it as an unhealthy food due to its high levels of fat and calories. Consumed in moderation, peanut butter can actually be a healthy food for all ages. Peanut butter provides you with protein, fiber and healthy unsaturated fats as well as several vitamins and minerals.
Protein and Fiber
In a 2-tablespoon serving, peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. This meets 17 percent of your daily protein needs and 8 percent of your daily fiber needs, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Both protein and fiber create a sense of fullness, making peanut butter ideal for curbing your appetite when trying to manage your weight. Protein is also important for building and repairing your muscles and tissues, while fiber regulates your digestive system and helps stabilize your blood glucose.
Despite peanut butter's bad reputation as high in fat, its fat content is actually one of its healthiest attributes. The fat in peanut butter is 81 percent unsaturated, primarily consisting of an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Peanut butter provides 38 percent of your daily linoleic acid needs in one 2-tablespoon serving. Omega-6 fatty acids work with omega-3 fatty acids to regulate inflammation, aid in growth and brain function and reduce risk of heart disease.
Peanut butter contains many vitamins and is particularly rich in niacin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E. A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter provides 31 percent of your daily niacin needs, 13 percent of your daily vitamin B-6 needs and 19 percent of your daily vitamin E needs. Vitamin B-6 helps maintain your immune system and synthesize neurotransmitters and works with niacin to help convert food into energy. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that strengthens your immune system, among other essential functions.
Peanut butter also contains important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Per 2-tablespoon serving, peanut butter provides 16 percent of your daily magnesium and phosphorus needs and 12 percent of your daily zinc requirements. Magnesium aids in the functioning of your muscles and nerves while phosphorus is essential for building strong bones and teeth. Zinc helps maintain your immune system and supports your body's growth and development.
Khadejah Makkieh is a registered dietitian with a passion for writing, teaching and cooking. She earned a Master of Science in nutrition from Texas Woman's University and is currently working as a college instructor. Makkieh's writing has also been featured in the FASEB science journal.