Reader Question: Peanut Butter

I received an EXCELLENT question this morning from a reader. She asked:

Q: I am trying to vary my snack routine, and I keep hearing that peanut butter is a great snack to enjoy on an apple or whole wheat toast. I have avoided peanut butter in the past because it has a lot of fat and calories, but I wanted to get a dietitian’s point of view. I would love to see a blog post about the health pros and cons of peanut butter and recommend certain things to look for when buying PB to keep it on the healthy side. Thanks!

A: Firstly, I completely understand the confusion surrounding peanut butter and healthfulness. Peanut butter does have a LOT of calories and fat! However, peanut butter is actually a very balanced food item when used in moderation (i.e. 2 tablespoons). While a serving of peanut butter will run you 190-200 calories, you’re getting a lot for the “cost” including plentiful amounts of monounsaturated fats (those are the REALLY good fats), polyunsaturated fats (good fats!), 8 grams of protein, approximately 4 grams of fiber, and a mere 1 gram of sugar. Natural peanut butter is cholesterol-free and low in sodium. Here’s a nifty chart from the USDA on peanuts and peanut butter…
 There are a few things to be aware of when purchasing and using peanut butter, however….

– Buy natural peanut butter. Peanut butter containing “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” contains trans fat (that’s the REALLY BAD kind). Buying a natural form of peanut butter insures that it is trans fat-free. Check your labels and ingredient lists to be sure!
– Measure your portions! Two tablespoons is a generous portion, but peanut butter is easily a food that can get a bit plentiful in portion sizing over time.
– When adding peanut butter to a snack, pair it with a low-calorie food item as to have a healthy snack that’s relatively low in calories. Examples: celery, pretzels, crackers, fruit, etc.
– Every thing in moderation. No single food should comprise the bulk of your diet or nutrient intake.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Shop smart and watch portions as always! Personally, I opt for All-Natural Jiff.

As for the diabetic diet, I’m pluggin’ along. Yesterday ended up like this:

Breakfast:
1 egg, cooked in Pam (0 carbs)
1 Arnold’s bread thin (1 1/2 carbs)
2 Morning Star Vegetarian sausage patties (1 carb)
6 ounces low-sugar toffee cappuccino (1 carb)
     Total: 3 1/2 carbs

Lunch:
1 serving chili (1 carb)
1 banana (2 carbs)
baby carrots (0 carbs)
1 Vita Top Muffin (1 carb)
     Total: 4 carbs

Dinner:
2 cups chicken noodle soup (1 carb)
1/2 acorn squash (2 carbs)
2 tsp Splenda brown sugar (1 carb)
2 Tbsp Smart Balance Light (0 carbs)
     Total: 4 carbs

Snack:
6 wheat tortilla chips (1 carb)
1/3 avocado (0 carbs)
3 more days of diabetic dieting! Have a great night, thanks for reading!

P.S. Meredith: I am not a CDE…yet! I am working on racking up the hours to sit for the CDE exam and I work with a population where I see a LOT of diabetics. I hope to get become a CDE within the next 2 years and I am SO excited about it! As passionate as I am about weight loss, I LOVE working with diabetics. It is fascinating!

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Filed under blog topic request, MUFAs and PUFAs, saturated fat, snack, trans fat

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