In LOVE with Peanut Butter!

I just read a good article on the health benefits of peanut butter by writer, Diana Herrington. I love peanut butter, so I loved the validation that loving it is good for me.

And a fun bit of peanut butter trivia says that just about every kid loves peanut butter: before graduating high school, the average child will have consumed 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Even President James A. Garfield was a peanut butter lover. He said, “Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” I would’ve voted for him.

This versatile spread is surprisingly good for your health. No food is perfect, though, so there are some cautions with peanuts. And hopefully, you aren’t part of the 1% of the population that is highly allergic to peanuts.

With that platform laid, let’s look at the 8 health benefits of this obvious superfood:

1. It suppresses hunger and helps with weight loss.

2. Your Heart Loves Peanuts. Research shows that peanuts lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.

3. It lowers colon cancer.

4. It helps protect against alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment. This is because of its high niacin load, a super brain-protector.

5. It prevents gallstones. Medical research shows that individuals eating five or more servings of nuts per week had a 25% to 30% lower risk of getting gallstones compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts. Although peanuts are technically classified as a legume, they were considered nuts for these experiments, so peanuts are actually the most commonly consumed ‘nut’ in the world.

6. Peanuts are full of healthy fat. All of the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. A study found that insulin-resistant adults who ate a diet high in mono-saturated fat had less belly fat than people who ate more carbohydrates or saturated fat.

7. Peanut butter lowers Type 2 Diabetes. The Journal of the American Medical Association contains numerous studies proving peanuts do a solid job of reducing the risk of diabetes.

8. Peanut butter is high in valuable nutrition. Peanut butter has protein as well as potassium — which lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. It also contains fiber for your bowel health, healthy fats, magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, Vitamin E and antioxidants.

But with all this said, there is one caution: Peanuts carry aflatoxin. They are susceptible to molds and fungus — some of which are highly toxic. A fungus called Aspergillus flavus produces a carcinogen that is twenty times more toxic than DDT, called aflatoxin.

The bottom line: Even with the aflatoxin caution, research shows There’s no need to avoid peanut butter (thank goodness). Just practice moderation.

And the best peanut butter to buy? Natural, old-fashioned organic peanut butter with no hydrogenated fats and sugar is the best. Choose peanut butter that contains only peanuts and salt. This kind is full of peanut flavor and doesn’t contain additives and is better for the environment too. Refrigerate it and turn it upside down in the fridge so the peanut oils and solids can re-mix.

Finally, peanut butter is not just dang good, it’s dang versatile. I’ll make a case for that comment by leaving you with this scrumptious recipe for a peanut butter sauce that’s always a crowd pleaser!

BLENDER PEANUT BUTTER SAUCE (yield: approximately 2/3 cup)

This is an easy take on my favorite Thai salad dressing. Drizzle it over greens, carrots and cucumber for a simple starter salad. It also works well in a raw kale salad or on top of a grain bowl.

1 2-nch piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon soy sauce

juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)

2-6 tablespoons of water (depends on how thick your peanut butter is and on your blender)

Put the ginger, garlic, peanut butter, soy sauce, lemon juice and Sriracha into your blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, adding water by the tablespoon as needed to get things moving. You can keep adding water, if you prefer a thinner dressing.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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