Peanut butter has a rather checkered history in the annals of nutrition. For starters, it’s commonly thought of as a potentially life threatening source of food allergy. This is why peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can no longer be found in school cafeterias. Then there’s the still controversial fat issue. The majority of calories in peanuts come from fat. But, there’s more to the peanut story than allergy risk and caloric density.
These days peanut allergies can largely be controlled over the long term without using powerful medications or shots. Oral immunotherapy, a medically administered form of peanut exposure, helps many living with peanut allergies to overcome them. What’s more, combining oral immunotherapy with probiotics (a.k.a. healthy bacteria found in such foods as kefir and yogurt) may yield even better results.
But, ultimately the question is why bother eating peanuts or peanut butter if not for the taste? It may surprise you to know that peanut intake actually suppresses appetite and moderates blood sugar fluctuations. In addition, eating peanuts and peanut butter protects cardiovascular health by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Despite the good news just mentioned, it should be noted that not all peanut butter is created equal, and I’m not just talking about differences among brands of peanut butter you’ll find at your local health food stores or markets. If you want to be on the cutting edge of nutrition and get the most out of your peanuts, eat the skins. Peanuts and peanut butters containing peanut skins dramatically increase the amount of antioxidants and fiber in the finalized products.
Numerous animal studies further reveal that feeding peanut butter with the skin reduces blood sugar, cholesterol, inflammation, and triglycerides. As an added bonus, the antioxidants found in peanut skins act as a natural preservative, protecting peanut butter from hastened spoilage. But, don’t add too much peanut skin to your homemade peanut butter.
One study found that as little as 5% peanut skins gave an astringent, bitter taste to the blend. So, start off slowly and keep adding more peanuts with skins to the mix as you taste along the way.
Presently, there doesn’t appear to be any national brand peanut butters that include peanut skins in their formulation, but this will likely change in the near future. So keep your eyes out for products touting “Made With Peanut Skins” on the label.John Paul Fanton, based in Los Angeles, California, is a consultant, researcher and writer with over 20 years of experience in the field of natural medicine. He designs unique nutritional plans, mind-body (meditation, mindfulness, etc.) and vitamin/supplement programs for individual clients who are interested in improving overall health, weight and wellness. You can find his weekly column on the Healthy Fellow.
Peanut Butter on Bread Photo Credit: Hannamariah/Shutterstock.com; Peanut Butter in Glass Photo Credit: HandmandePictures/Shutterstock.com