Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reader Question: Peanut Butter

I received an EXCELLENT question this morning from a reader. She asked:

Q: I am trying to vary my snack routine, and I keep hearing that peanut butter is a great snack to enjoy on an apple or whole wheat toast. I have avoided peanut butter in the past because it has a lot of fat and calories, but I wanted to get a dietitian's point of view. I would love to see a blog post about the health pros and cons of peanut butter and recommend certain things to look for when buying PB to keep it on the healthy side. Thanks!

A: Firstly, I completely understand the confusion surrounding peanut butter and healthfulness. Peanut butter does have a LOT of calories and fat! However, peanut butter is actually a very balanced food item when used in moderation (i.e. 2 tablespoons). While a serving of peanut butter will run you 190-200 calories, you're getting a lot for the "cost" including plentiful amounts of monounsaturated fats (those are the REALLY good fats), polyunsaturated fats (good fats!), 8 grams of protein, approximately 4 grams of fiber, and a mere 1 gram of sugar. Natural peanut butter is cholesterol-free and low in sodium. Here's a nifty chart from the USDA on peanuts and peanut butter...

 There are a few things to be aware of when purchasing and using peanut butter, however....

- Buy natural peanut butter. Peanut butter containing "hydrogenated oil" or "partially hydrogenated oil" contains trans fat (that's the REALLY BAD kind). Buying a natural form of peanut butter insures that it is trans fat-free. Check your labels and ingredient lists to be sure!

- Measure your portions! Two tablespoons is a generous portion, but peanut butter is easily a food that can get a bit plentiful in portion sizing over time.
- When adding peanut butter to a snack, pair it with a low-calorie food item as to have a healthy snack that's relatively low in calories. Examples: celery, pretzels, crackers, fruit, etc.
- Every thing in moderation. No single food should comprise the bulk of your diet or nutrient intake.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Shop smart and watch portions as always! Personally, I opt for All-Natural Jiff.

As for the diabetic diet, I'm pluggin' along. Yesterday ended up like this:

1 egg, cooked in Pam (0 carbs)

1 Arnold's bread thin (1 1/2 carbs)
2 Morning Star Vegetarian sausage patties (1 carb)
6 ounces low-sugar toffee cappuccino (1 carb)
     Total: 3 1/2 carbs

1 serving chili (1 carb)
1 banana (2 carbs)
baby carrots (0 carbs)
1 Vita Top Muffin (1 carb)
     Total: 4 carbs

2 cups chicken noodle soup (1 carb)
1/2 acorn squash (2 carbs)
2 tsp Splenda brown sugar (1 carb)
2 Tbsp Smart Balance Light (0 carbs)
     Total: 4 carbs

6 wheat tortilla chips (1 carb)
1/3 avocado (0 carbs)

3 more days of diabetic dieting! Have a great night, thanks for reading!

P.S. Meredith: I am not a CDE...yet! I am working on racking up the hours to sit for the CDE exam and I work with a population where I see a LOT of diabetics. I hope to get become a CDE within the next 2 years and I am SO excited about it! As passionate as I am about weight loss, I LOVE working with diabetics. It is fascinating!


  1. Great recommendations. I say the same thing. I get sad when people tell me they don't eat pb because of the fat. We need to band together as RDs and erase those false thoughts!

  2. Great points about peanut butter! I actually don't do very well with peanut butter, but I have discovered that my body does well with a bit of almond butter. I love putting a bit on banana slices. So good, and it works really well for me as a preworkout snack.