November is the month of many things, including National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. Not many can resist a peanut butter pie from the bakery, or even the random spoonful of peanut butter as a late night snack, but there are many uses for peanut butter other than baking.
Cecilia Rokusek, professor of Family Medicine, Public Health and Disaster and Emergency Preparedness in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, said, “First of all, let me say that peanut butter is a very good food, except for those with any type of nut allergy. For those individuals, it can be almost deadly. ”
She said some will debate that peanut butter is rich in calories and salt (if not unsalted) and high in fat, but the benefits far outweigh any of the anti-peanut butter debaters.
“Overall, peanut butter is a good protein source that is an excellent source of bone-building magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6.” Rokusek said. “In addition, peanut butter is high in carbohydrates, other B vitamins, vitamin A and C and a myriad of other minerals, including manganese, phosphorous, selenium, copper, iron and zinc.”
Rokusek said there has been a fair amount of research on the best health benefits of peanut butter, including decreased heart disease and diabetes.
“Peanut butter has been shown to decrease diabetes by almost 30 percent. Peanut butter contains monounsaturated fat, which is good for you. It is heart healthy,” said Rokusek.
But all things are good in moderation.
“One to two tablespoons, depending on body size and energy expenditure, and if it is a snack or in a meal such as a peanut butter sandwich, [is good],” Rokusek said.
Peanut butter is rich in potassium. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter, a 210 mg serving size, is considered a high-potassium by drugs.com.
Rokusek said, “Potassium is a macro-mineral, meaning that it is important in larger amounts in the body and is essential to the body [in regulating] fluid and mineral balance in the body and balancing fluids in and outside of body cells.”
She said that potassium helps to maintain normal blood pressure by blunting the effect of sodium. Potassium also helps to reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and possible bone loss as we age.
According to the Dialysis Clinic, Inc., the kidneys “keep the right amount of potassium in the blood to keep the heart beating at a steady pace.”
According to Fitday.com, one tablespoon of peanut butter contains one gram of fiber, which is about 4 percent of the daily recommended dosage.
Rokusek said, “Peanut butter contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber itself helps to lower the risk of diabetes and high blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber has been linked to the prevention of digestive disorders, including diverticular disease, constipation, intestinal ulcers, colon cancer and hemorrhoids.”
According to nutritionmd.org, fiber is important for proper digestion and adequate bowel movements. It prevents constipation, reduces blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol. Fiber is filling and helps to control appetite, and diets high in fiber have also been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to bodybuilding.com, peanut butter contains plant protein important for energy and muscle building. It specifically repairs damaged tissue and helps boost the immune system. Protein is found throughout the body — in muscles, bones, skin, hair and tissues. For every two tablespoons of peanut butter, there are 8 grams of protein.
Natural products used in cosmetics are not a new concept, according to lifehack.org. However, with the development of organic products, more people are creating a market for these organic cosmetics. The peanuts used to make peanut butter are high in hydrogenated peanut oil. In cosmetics and personal care products, peanut-derived ingredients are used in moisturizers, skin care products and skin cleansers. Believe it or not, shampoos use peanut oil. The oil helps with dry scalp care because of its natural moisturizer contents, similarly in shaving cream and a variety of lotions.
“People often do not realize that peanut oil is in many cosmetics, lotions, soaps and creams. Creams are often used for scaly or irritated skin,” Rokusek said. “Peanut oil is also found in vitamins, eye drops and eye pencil.”
With the numerous ways to use peanut butter, it’s no wonder this delicious snack is more than just a treat for your tummy. Whether you use it for late night binging during finals, to meet your nutritional goals for the day or even in your morning cosmetic routine, peanut butter is a staple in everyone’s life.