Many people know that peanut butter is an awesome source of protein and nutrition but will strike it off the list when it comes to a weight-loss diet plan. Considering that two tablespoons pack 190 calories, 144 of which come from fat, it is not what most of us would call “diet food.”
Have another round of thought. New research suggests that peanuts in all their forms—including peanut butter—may not only help you lose weight but keep it off over the long term.
What the Research Says
In 2010, researchers with the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University assessed the effects of nut consumption on obesity and concluded that an increased intake of nuts was associated with a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome (a disorder characterized by excess abdominal girth and high cholesterol levels).
A relative study from the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that women who ate nuts more than twice weekly were less likely to gain weight over an eight-year period. Of the types and preparations consumed, peanuts and peanut butter were the most common.
Even more impressively, increased nut consumption was associated with a decrease in “bad” saturated fat and increases in “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Adding Peanut Butter to Your Diet
To gain the full benefits of peanut butter in a weight-loss plan, you need to limit your daily intake a single serving, or two tablespoons. Some people will consume peanut butter shortly before a meal to temper their hunger. Others will add peanut butter to a reduced-calorie meal to increase the dietary fiber and protein content.
If you have high blood pressure, find a low-salt brand or a natural peanut butter with no added ingredients.
Besides a good, old-fashioned PB&J sandwich, here are some other diet-friendly ideas to consider:
- Swirl a tablespoon of peanut butter into fat-free yogurt.
- Mix chopped peanuts in with low-fat microwave popcorn.
- Add peanut butter to a low-fat vanilla shake or smoothie.
- Dip apple slices or celery stalks into peanut butter.
- Replace croutons in your salad with peanuts.
- Make your own trail mix with dried fruit.
- Spread peanut butter onto rice or popcorn cakes.
- Stir peanut butter into a bowl of oatmeal or cream of wheat.
To get rid of added fats and sugars, try making fresh peanut butter. Some health food stores provide customers with a grinder and bulk peanuts to make a fresh supply in-store. Once home, you can add salt and a sweetener if desired.
In comparison to store-purchased peanut butter, natural peanut butter is smoother and mixes well in smoothies. The fat will also tend to separate but can be easily reincorporated with a little stir.
With some little moderation and creativity, peanut butter may not only help quell your appetite but keep your diet firmly on track.