Why you should be eating peanut butter

Peanut Butter is the wild child of the sandwich spreads. This yummy jar of goodness gets a bad rap for being high in fat, but the plethora of health benefits in peanut butter actually make it a great choice if you’re searching the supermarket for a spreadable snack, writes Ellie McInerney.

Of course, not every option of peanut butter on the shelf is as good as its neighbour, some brands pack sugar, preservatives and flavours into their jars, while other brands keep things as natural as nature intended. Read on to discover why peanut butter is as good for you as you’d like to believe and which brands will help you fast-track your fitness goals while avoiding hidden nasties.

What’s inside a jar of peanut butter?

Inside a typical jar of peanut butter, you can expect to find ingredients like roasted peanuts (usually around 90%), vegetable oils, salt and sugar. Sometimes there will be stabilisers and preservatives, depending on the brand. A good trick to remember when looking at an ingredients list is that the list is presented from the ingredients in the highest quantities to the lowest quantities. So you’d rather choose an option with no sugar, or at least one with sugar towards the end of the list, as opposed to an option with sugar being one of the first few ingredients.

Ideally, when choosing peanut butter, the most natural, organic option is best. Some of these include the Woolworths Macro range of smooth or crunchy peanut butter, Mayver’s Organic Peanut Butter and Mother Earth Peanut Butter. Being natural and organic, the consistency of the product may look a little different to the alternatives, but don’t be put off by this. It’s normal for the natural oils in the peanuts to rise to the top, which is why at first the product can look super oily. A simple stir with a spoon will mix all the goodness together again, so you can enjoy the taste and health benefits without the added stabilisers in other products, which is what prevents this in the first place.

Is peanut butter good for you?

Peanut butter is a fantastic option for a snack or a post-workout refuel. In general, nuts boast a variety of nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. According to Nutrition Australia, peanuts – which are actually part of the legume family – boast high levels of fibre, Vitamin E and potassium, which makes Peanut butter a great source of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients like protein too. Peanut Butter is low GI, which means it will make you feel fuller for longer, and although it is high in fat, this is healthy monounsaturated fat which is good for overall health. You can read about monounsaturated fat here.

Which brands are healthiest?

After evaluating six of the best-selling brands on the market, it is clear that some brands come out on top as clear winners when it comes to low sugar content, as this table shows.

Brand Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Calories Serve Size
Sanitarium Original 10.2g 6g 1.4g 1.1g 122 20g
Sanitarium Natural 9.9g 6g 1.9g 1.1g 122 20g
Kraft 11.3g 5.2g 3g 1.9g 135 22g
Mayver’s Organic 10.16g 4.64g 4.42g 0.08g 117.28 20g
Dick Smith 9.7g 4.9g 3.6g 1.6g 123 20g
Mother Earth 7.1g 4.1g 2.0g 0.08g 208.8 15g

Source: Brand websites, accurate as of August 2016.

If you’re trying to avoid sugar in your peanut butter (which is probably a good idea) then the organic brands have the least amount, with both Mayver’s Organic and Mother Earth both at just 0.08g per serve. Always check your serving size though – a standard Mayver’s Organic serve size is 20g which is about one tablespoon, whilst the Mother Earth standard serve sits a bit less at 15g.

Healthy peanut butter recipes

Peanut butter is a healthy, yummy option for a mid-morning snack or post-workout refuel. Some quick and easy ways to enjoy this nutritious spread is on rice cakes, topped with banana and sprinkled with cinnamon, or on carrot, celery and apple slices for the added nutritional benefits of fruit and vegies. Or try the below recipe for a delicious breakfast

Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1–2 tablespoons water
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • Tsp Coconut oil
  • Tbs Peanut Butter
  • Banana to top

Method: Heat the coconut oil in a pan. Mix all the above ingredients (except peanut butter and banana) in a bowl and pour into pan when coconut oil has melted. Let cook for 1–2 minutes and flip. Spread with a tablespoon peanut butter and top with sliced banana!

Switch up your snacks

If you’re currently consuming snack foods that are high in sugar, or your breakfast spreads are as sweet as a bag of lollies (I’m looking at you jam and Nutella spreads!) then switching to a healthier option like peanut butter is a good idea. Remember, you can add this protein rich spread into smoothies, protein shakes, pancakes and on toast or rice cakes for a quick and nutritious snack. If you’d like to check out some more recipes with peanut butter as the hero, check out the Mayver’s Recipe Book.

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