Whether you're a current fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or you haven't had one since you were a child, they are still a favorite snack for many. While PB&J sandwiches may not be immediately associated with healthy eating, they can form part of a healthy balanced diet, though it's important that you know about the nutritional values -- in particular the carbohydrates in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The main type of carbohydrate found in bread is starch. Starches typically make up around one-third of the average person's diet and are an important source of calcium, B vitamins, iron and energy. They are complex carbohydrates, so they take longer for your body to break down and use than simple carbohydrates, such as sugar.
The jelly in your PB&J is composed primarily of sugars. Unlike starches, sugars digest relatively quickly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two types of sugar: naturally occurring and added. While you don't want to eat either in vast quantities, focus on limiting your added sugar consumption. The best way to do this is to choose an all-natural jelly or one with no added sugars. Watch out for sweetened peanut butter too, and stick with a natural one.
Fiber plays an important role in your diet, as it aids with digestion, but it also helps prevent heart disease and diabetes and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The jelly in your sandwich may contain a little fiber from the fruit, as will the peanut butter, but it's the bread that can really make a difference. White bread is virtually devoid of fiber, while whole-grain bread is a good source of fiber and far higher in nutrients.
The Carb Content
The total carbohydrate content of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich will vary depending on the ingredients and brands that you opt for. Two slices of white bread have around 44 grams of carbs, while two slices of wheat have 38 grams. A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 8 grams of carbs, while a tablespoon of fruit jelly has roughly 15 grams. This gives you a sandwich with between 61 and 67 grams of carbs from a mix of starch, sugar and fiber.
- NHS Choices: Starchy Foods
- Utah Education Network: Carbohydrates-Simple and Complex
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- Eat Right: Fiber
- Fit Sugar: Sandwich Dilemma: Which Bread to Choose?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanut Butter, Smooth
- Nutrient Facts: Jelly Nutrition Facts