You may eliminate fat when you’re trying to lose weight, but the fact is the human body needs fat for overall maintenance, including brain health. Furthermore, fat helps you better absorb fat-soluble vitamins. The key is to find healthy fats, in lieu of saturated and trans fats that harm your heart. While peanut butter alone can’t burn excess body fat, this healthy fat can aid your weight-loss efforts along with diet and exercise.
Peanut Butter Health Benefits
Peanut butter is considered a healthy fat because of its monounsaturated fat content. Known for its heart-health effects, unsaturated fat has the ability to decrease bad cholesterol levels while also protecting your overall cardiovascular health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics estimates that half of the fat content in peanut butter is monounsaturated. Peanuts are also a valued source of protein and fiber.
Effects on the Body
Eating peanut butter won’t automatically make your body burn fat. However, the monounsaturated fat content can satiate cravings for junk food derived from unhealthy fats. The protein and fiber also keeps you full for longer, even preventing the sugar crashes that often lead to binge eating. On top of that, peanut butter may actually improve your metabolism, according to HealthyWomen.org. Your metabolism is responsible for burning calories throughout the entire day, even when you’re sitting down or sleeping. A study published in the August 2002 issue of the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that after 19 weeks, participants who ate more peanuts had an 11 percent increase in their resting energy expenditure. Some peanut butters contain additives, like sugar, so choose one made with peanuts only.
Look for brands of peanut butter labeled as “natural.” These have the highest amounts of monounsaturated fat without added syrups and hydrogenated oils, the latter of which is a source of trans fat. Don’t get rid of excess oil on top of the peanut butter -- this is where the healthy monounsaturated fat is. Instead, carefully stir the jar before use. There are other brands of natural peanut butter that don’t have separated oils, but they might have other ingredients, such as molasses. Often labeled as "no-stir," these supposedly natural peanut butters may also contain added hydrogenated oils to homogenize them and prevent separation. An alternative to jarred peanut butter is to make your own out of plain peanuts and a little salt.
Beyond Peanut Butter
Long-term weight maintenance and overall health depends on a healthy diet. In other words, you shouldn’t rely on peanut butter alone. Try other sources of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts and olive oil. Despite its benefits, peanut butter also contains saturated fat and a lot of calories. Minding your portions can go a long way in making sure you gain the most benefit without destroying your weight-loss efforts. One serving size is 2 tablespoons.