A crowd-pleaser for kids and adults alike, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make up a staple of the American diet. While you might be more apt to choose PB&J sandwiches for their convenience and affordability, they also provide a source of essential vitamins and minerals. For a healthful peanut butter and jelly sandwich, go for all-natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread made without added sugar.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich provides you with carbohydrates -- a source of fuel to keep you feeling energized throughout the day -- including dietary fiber. Getting enough fiber keeps you regular; fiber absorbs water and loosens your stool, so you're less likely to suffer from constipation. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes particularly benefit from a high-fiber diet, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- made with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a tablespoon of jelly -- contains 44 grams of total carbohydrates, including 6.6 grams of dietary fiber. This makes up 23 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake for women or 17 percent for men, as set by the Institute of Medicine.
Consume peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a source of vitamin E. Vitamin E belongs to the family of antioxidant vitamins. This means that it seeks out and neutralizes free radicals that would otherwise oxidize and damage your lipids, cell membranes and DNA. Vitamin E also affects your circulation, thinning your blood and relaxing your blood vessels to improve blood flow, and plays a role in cell communication. Each sandwich offers 2.4 milligrams of vitamin E -- 16 percent of your recommended daily intake, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Peanut butter and wheat bread both boost your intake of B-complex vitamins. These nutrients work together to allow you to digest and process nutrients, helping your body convert carbohydrates and fats into fuel, and aiding in amino acid metabolism. You also need B vitamins to regulate your diet, maintain healthy skin and support nervous system function. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches provide you with all of the B-complex vitamins except vitamin B-12, a nutrient only found in meats and animal products. They serve as a particularly rich source of niacin, or vitamin B-3, with each sandwich providing 7 milligrams -- half of the recommended daily intake for women or 44 percent for men, according to the Institute of Medicine.
While the peanut butter and wheat bread in your sandwiches boost your nutrient intake, the jelly serves as little more than empty calories. To get even more benefits from your sandwich, forgo the jelly and add sweetness with fruit. A sliced banana adds iron, potassium, folate and vitamin A to your sandwich, while sliced strawberries add vitamin C, fiber and beneficial antioxidants. If you really prefer jelly in your PB&J, look for reduced-sugar varieties made with real fruit as a more healthful option.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Strawberries, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bread, Whole-Wheat, Commercially Prepared
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanut Butter, Chunk Style
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Jams and Preservatives
- Linus Pauling Institute: Fiber
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.