Peanut butter is often recommended as a good source of healthy fats. The main types of fat in peanut butter are unsaturated. A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains around 16 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are monounsaturated and 5 grams are polyunsaturated. None of these polyunsaturated fats is in the omega-3 class, though some brands do fortify their peanut butter with omega-3s.
The two main types of omegas are omega-3 and omega-6. Both are important for a healthy, balanced diet, and you generally find omega-6 in plant sources and omega-3 in oily fish, as well as some plant sources. Ideally, your diet should contain a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats of between 2-to-1 and 4-to-1. Peanuts actually contain a high amount of omega-6 and virtually no omega-3, notes Dr. Loren Cordain.
Omega-3 fats actually comes in three different forms. Oily fish contains omega-3 in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. In plant sources such as flaxseed, however, omega-3 comes from alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which must be broken down into EPA and DHA before it can be used. According to the British Dietetic Association, the benefits from consuming more omega-3 include reducing the risk of heart disease and supporting growth and development.
As peanuts and peanut butter are generally devoid of omega-3 fats, manufacturers sometimes add omega-3s in to boost the health benefits. One brand includes omega-3 in its peanut butter in the form of added EPA and DHA, which doesn't change the taste, notes dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot. If your peanut butter is fortified with omega-3, it will say so on the jar.
Regular Peanut Butter
Just because regular peanut butter doesn't contain omega-3s doesn't make it a bad food. You get fiber, vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy unsaturated fats from peanut butter. Additionally, if you're eating oily fish or taking an omega-3 supplement regularly, it's unlikely you'll be deficient in omega-3, so you needn't worry particularly about looking for an omega-3-fortified brand.
- The Peanut Institute: Food for Thought: Good Fat, Bad Fat, and Trans Fat: The Facts About Fat in Peanut Butter
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- The Paleo Diet: Nut Fatty Acid Composition
- British Dietetic Association: Omega-3
- Fox News: The Truth About Peanut Butter
- Harvard Health Publications: Is Peanut Butter Healthy? Yes, Says the Harvard Heart Letter