Although peanut butter is high in fat, it contains healthy fat that helps protect your heart rather than harm it. The "bad" fats for your heart are the saturated variety, which come from animal products such as butter, beef and cheese. However, peanut butter's high calorie content means it can lead to weight gain, which may contribute to heart disease -- so eat it sparingly as part of a balanced diet.
Effects on Your Heart
Peanut butter is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are shown to help reduce artery-clogging LDL cholesterol while increasing artery-clearing HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. It also contains polyunsaturated fats, which help reduce triglyceride levels. High LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are linked to heart disease, so peanut butter may help improve cardiovascular health. One caveat: salted peanut butter is relatively high in sodium, and too much sodium may contribute to heart disease by raising your blood pressure. Choose unsalted peanut butter, and limit total sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, or 1,500 milligrams if you have any heart-disease risk factors.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanut Butter, Smooth Style, With Salt
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
- HelpGuide.org: Choosing Healthy Fats
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart-Healthy Diet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Most Americans Consume Too Much Sodium