Peanuts and peanut butter are nutritious foods for the brain. They contain many essential nutrients the brain and body require, while being low in sodium and cholesterol-free. Few foods are as versatile as peanuts and peanut butter, which also provide protein and other nutrients less expensively than many other foods.
The peanut and peanut butter are popular and nutritious foods, containing protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and primarily unsaturated fat. Since the brain requires all of these nutrients to function properly, peanuts and peanut butter are a good natural source to nourish the brain and nervous system. Peanuts and peanut butter also are cholesterol-free and maintain heart health, making them good foods to include as part of a balanced diet.
Few foods are so packed with protein as the peanut and peanut butter. They contain 10 percent of the recommended daily intake or RDI of protein, according to the American Peanut Council. Protein is required for the brain to manufacture chemicals called neurotransmitters, which brain cells use to communicate with one another. Two important neurotransmitters are norepinephrine and dopamine. When the brain manufactures these neurotransmitters, The Franklin Institute says, they can contribute to a feeling of alertness and added energy after the protein meal.
Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of particular vitamins the brain needs to function properly. They contain high amounts of vitamin E, which brain cells use as an antioxidant to protect them from chemical breakdown. These foods are also rich in niacin, a B vitamin the brain uses to protect against Alzheimer's disease and age-related degeneration. Another B vitamin, folate, is also found in high concentrations in peanuts and peanut butter. A pregnant woman needs folate in her diet in order for her fetus to develop a normal brain. Folate deficiency can cause a birth defect known as anencephaly, where the baby's brain forms outside its skull.
The brain requires certain minerals that the body turns into electrolytes, which then become absorbed by cells. Peanuts and peanut butter are especially rich in magnesium, copper, phosphorous and potassium, containing 10 to 12 percent of the RDI for these minerals. Each of these minerals is important for brain and nerve cells to generate electrical signals in order to communicate with themselves and the rest of the body.