Is peanut butter healthy? Yes, say the experts.
Even though there is the presence of saturated fat and calories, it doesn't automatically kick this food into the "unhealthy" camp. It is the same with olive oil, wheat germ, and even tofu. All these foods have some saturated fats, but are all considered to be "healthy" foods. It is important to remember that it is the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.
A typical 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter actually contains less saturated fat than saturated fat. The measurements are 3.3 grams of saturated fat and 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat. That puts it up there with olive oil in terms of the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat. It is important to remember that some saturated fat is ok. The body's response to saturated fat in food is to increase the amounts of both harmful LDL and protective HDL in circulation. Consuming a lot of saturated fat however, promotes artery-clogging atherosclerosis, the process that underlies most cardiovascular disease.
Peanut butter also gives you some fibre, some vitamins and minerals (including potassium), and other nutrients. The fibre in peanut butter also fights heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and helps lower cholesterol. Unsalted peanut butter has a great potassium-to-sodium ratio, which counters the harmful cardiovascular effects of too much sodium. And even salted peanut butter still has about twice as much potassium as sodium.
Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat much nuts. Although it is possible that nut eaters are somehow different from, and healthier than, non-nut eaters, it is more likely that nuts themselves have a lot to do with these benefits.