Skip to main content

Is peanut butter healthy? All your questions answered about this popular pantry staple

Read this first before digging in

Peanut butter on toast
Michelle Lee Photography / Shutterstock

If you’re like us, you put peanut butter on anything and everything. Peanut butter is by far the most popular among the nut butters, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a food that it doesn’t complement or make better. Bread and jam are the classic go-to, but it also has a long-standing relationship with chocolate, bananas, and smoothies. It’s great in some unconventional scenarios, as well, like on a burger, and is used in a lot of Asian recipes.

Peanut butter
Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Peanut butter FAQs

Based on its deliciousness and versatility, you may be wondering how much peanut butter is too much. We’ll address some of the most popular questions around the spread and get to the bottom of the healthiness of peanut butter.

What is peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a spread made from ground peanuts, which in their natural state, are pretty good for you. For more info on peanut nutrition, check out Peanut Nutrition 101 from the National Peanut Board. The peanut butter process involves roasting the peanuts and grinding them into fine particles before blending them into a thick paste. This base process delivers unprocessed food that’s healthy for everyday use.

However, many commercial brands add various ingredients to their peanut butter, including vegetable oils and sugar. So, when shopping for peanut butter, check all the nutritional and processing info. Check the label to ensure the product has only peanuts and maybe some salt for a healthier option.

Is eating too much peanut butter bad?

Excessive consumption of peanut butter can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and increased sugar levels. This is particularly true when you eat peanut butter that has added ingredients, like sugar and vegetable oil. As with most products, the side effects of eating too much peanut butter vary between people.

How much peanut butter can I eat a day?

As a general rule of thumb, around one to two tablespoons per day is enough. For most high-fat foods, two tablespoons a day are usually ideal. If you’re unsure how much you should eat, it’s advisable to consult a dietician or doctor. This is particularly important if you have a history of allergic reactions to peanut butter or any of its ingredients.

Generally, it’s important to know your health goals and needs. A tablespoon of natural peanut butter has about 90 calories and 7 grams of fat. If you eat 2 to 3 tablespoons a day, you’re adding about 180 to 270 calories and 14 to 21 grams of fat to your body. So, be sure to consider your daily calorie intake goal. For example, most athletes aim to have 3,000-4,000 calories per day.

Is almond butter better than peanut butter?

According to Healthline, almond butter is somewhat better than peanut butter because of its nutritional content. While both butters contain almost the same amounts of sugar and calories, almonds contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins. But peanut butter has more protein than almond butter.

On a nutritional basis, almond makes for a better pick than peanut butter. For those who are more concerned about the taste of their meals, peanut butter makes an exceptional choice. Just be sure to pick a healthy nut butter when shopping. Opt for butter that doesn’t have added sugar, artificial ingredients, or trans fats. The label should include almonds or peanuts and a bit of salt.

Is peanut butter good for cholesterol?

Naturally processed peanut butter has no cholesterol, so you need not worry about it. It contains unsaturated fat, which health experts believe is important in a healthy diet, in moderation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that peanut butter contains monounsaturated fat (7.2 g per 2 tbsp), polyunsaturated fat (3.49 g per 2 tbsp), and saturated fat (2.86 g per 2 tbsp)

Is it better to eat natural peanut butter?

In many cases, eating natural peanut butter is considered a better option than eating regular peanut butter. Here are the pros of eating natural peanut butter:

  • Fewer ingredients: Natural peanut butter typically contains just peanuts, sometimes with a pinch of salt. This means it’s free of added sugars, hydrogenated oils, and other additives which may not be desirable from a health perspective.
  • Higher nutrition: Natural peanut butter often retains more of the peanuts’ natural nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins E and B3.
  • Lower sugar content: Compared to regular peanut butter, natural versions generally have less sugar, making them a more appropriate choice for controlling blood sugar levels and managing weight.
  • Less processed: Natural peanut butter undergoes minimal processing, preserving the flavor and texture of the peanuts.

Can you lose weight eating peanut butter?

Peanut butter is rich in protein, fat, and fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer. This means you’ll not experience frequent cravings or hunger, reducing the chances of snacking on unhealthy foods. So, it’s possible that peanut butter can aid your weight loss efforts.

A 2019 study also showed that people who ate nuts regularly had lower chances of experiencing obesity. As always, consult your doctor or nutritionist to see how peanut butter can be a part of your diet.

Steven Johnson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
What foods are high in iron? These staples will help you live a healthier life
Add these high-iron foods to your shopping list today
Ribeye caps topped with garlic and herbs cooked in a cast iron pan over charcoal.

What foods are high in iron? We all know that iron is important for a healthy, balanced diet, but did you know you can find two different kinds of iron in food: heme and non-heme. Your body can absorb iron from heme (animal-based) food better than from non-heme (plant-based) food sources. Where can you find heme food sources? Read on to find out about foods high in iron.

If you eat a plant-based diet, you’ll get a lot of non-heme types of iron. As a result, your body might need a bit of help to absorb it properly. Sometimes vitamin C can aid with the absorption of plant-based kinds of iron. Regularly consume both plant and animal-based sources of iron to get the best of both for your body. 
What is iron?

Read more
Benefits of ginger: 6 reasons why you should add it to your grocery list today
Learn how ginger could be an essential superfood for your diet
Ginger on cutting board.

All over the world,ginger is consumed in many ways; these include as a spice, in teas and soups, and more! No matter how you choose to enjoy the superfood, it cannot be denied that there are many benefits of ginger. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, there are six significant ways that ginger can positively affect your health.

It doesn’t require a lot of ginger to make a difference, either! Three to four grams of ginger daily is optimal for the average healthy adult. Any more than this can lead to gastrointestinal distress and heartburn. So as long as you stay within the guidelines, you can include ginger in your diet in various ways and reap the many health benefits it provides.

Read more
7 delicious, portable, high-protein snacks that will support your weight loss goals
Discover some tasty and satiating snacks for weight loss
Man drinking protein shake

Eating optimal amounts of protein daily can benefit your health in many ways. For example, high-protein snacks and meals can help replenish and reduce overall calorie intake, which, in turn, can promote a healthy body weight. 

High protein snacks and meals have also been associated with the improvement of the composition of the body, bone health, and heart disease risk factors. 

Read more