The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is as American as apple pie. During World War II, soldiers were provided with peanut butter as an inexpensive source of protein with their meal rations. These inventive soldiers mixed their peanut butter with jelly to make it more appealing, and when they returned home from the war, sales of both peanut butter and jelly increased. Whether you eat it as a comfort food, or serve it to your children for lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make a healthy meal choice.
A basic peanut butter and jelly sandwich consists of two slices of bread, with approximately 2 grams of fiber per slice, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of jelly. This sandwich contains 380 calories, 13.45 grams of protein, 19 grams of total fat, 3.72 grams of saturated fat, 8.86 grams of monounsaturated fat, 5.33 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 5.9 grams of fiber and 460 milligrams of sodium.
The USDA recommends that you vary your sources of protein to include more nuts and seeds. When part of a healthy balanced diet, including foods like peanut butter in your diet can help reduce your risk factors for heart disease. On a 2,000-calorie diet, you should include 4 to 5 servings of nuts or seeds a week. The National Institutes of Health reports that protein is a part of every cell in the body and is needed at all stages of life, from infancy to adulthood.
About 45 percent of the calories in a typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich come from fat. However, most of those fat calories come from the heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. To maintain a healthy diet, 25 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fat, with most of those fat calories coming from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
To make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich healthier, make it on whole-grain bread with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. Increasing the fiber in your diet offers a number of health benefits, including appetite control, alleviation of constipation and lowering your blood cholesterol levels. Adult men and women should aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Some commercial brands of peanut butter are high in sodium. To limit the sodium content of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, look for unsalted varieties. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with reduced-sodium peanut butter with all other ingredients the same contains 378 milligrams of sodium. Your daily sodium intake should be limited to less than 2,300 milligrams a day.
- What's Cooking America; History of Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich; K. Stradley; 2004
- USDA: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Foods and Nutrients to Increase
- The DASH Diet Eating Plan; Feb. 26, 2011
- American Heart Associaiton; Know Your Fats; Jan. 20, 2011
- USDA: Nutrient Database: Peanut Butter
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Fiber
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Protein in Diet