Peanut butter is generally considered a healthy food due to its high nutrient content, according to Harvard Medical School. Nuts and nut butters, such as peanut butter, may help lower your risk for gallstones, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer, according to an article published in "Nutrients" in July 2010. Switching from conventional to organic peanut butter is an easy way to limit your exposure to chemical residues in your food, making this a healthier option. You'll need to choose the right type of peanut butter, however, to get the most benefits.
Decreased Pesticide Exposure
The peanuts used in organic peanut butter can't be grown with pesticides or the fungicides commonly used in growing peanuts, so switching from conventional to organic peanut butter will lower your exposure to pesticide residues. Pesticide residues can accumulate in your body over time, adding strain to your immune system and making you more likely to suffer from headaches. Children exposed to pesticides may experience developmental delays. Because children often eat quite a lot of peanut butter, choosing organic peanut butter may reduce pesticide exposure by a significant amount.
Decreased Risk of Food-Borne Illness
Because of the low water content in peanut butter, it can become contaminated with bacteria and cause outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. Organic peanut butter often contains a lower carbohydrate content than conventional peanut butter, and this lower carbohydrate content makes it harder for bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, to survive, according to a study published in "Applied and Environmental Microbiology" in December 2011.
Each serving of peanut butter -- whether regular or organic -- has about 14 percent of the daily value for vitamin E, 21 percent of the DV for niacin, 23 percent of the DV for manganese, 12 percent of the DV for magnesium and 11 percent of the DV for phosphorus. Vitamin E and manganese act as antioxidants to limit cell damage, and niacin is important for nervous system function. You need magnesium and phosphorus for forming DNA. Salted peanut butter also has about 6 percent of the DV for sodium per serving. Getting too much sodium in your diet can increase your risk for high blood pressure, so unsalted organic peanut butter is healthier than salted.
Whether you choose organic or conventional peanut butter, the healthiest varieties are made with just peanuts and don't contain added sugars or oils. Avoid low-fat varieties, which don't save you many calories but contain fillers instead of the healthy monounsaturated fat in regular peanut butter. Although peanut butter is very nutrient-dense, it is also energy-dense, meaning it has a lot of calories per gram. Smooth peanut butter, whether organic or conventional, provides about 188 calories, 8 grams of protein, 6.3 grams of carbohydrates and 16.1 grams of fat, including just 3.3 grams of saturated fat, in each 2-tablespoon serving. Most of this fat is the heart-healthy unsaturated type. Pay attention to your serving size to keep from eating too many calories.
- HelpGuide.org: Organic Foods
- Harvard Heart Letter: Ask the Doctor: Why Is Peanut Butter "Healthy" If It Has Saturated Fat?
- Nutrients: Health Benefits of Nut Consumption
- New York Times: Five Easy Ways to Go Organic
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- Eating Well: Shop Smart: What Is in a Healthy Peanut Butter?
- Applied and Environmental Microbiology: Survival and Heat Resistance of Salmonella Enterica and Escherichia Coli O157:H7 in Peanut Butter