Is Peanut Butter Healthy for Kids?

Peanut butter is a kid-friendly, nutritious food if eaten in moderation. Most kids love peanut butter. It is versatile and can go with many types of foods, such as apples, celery, crackers and bread. Peanut butter is high in fat, but it is monounsaturated fat that is considered heart healthy. Eating a couple of tablespoons as part of a meal or snack provides protein, an essential nutrient for growing kids.

dad spreading peanut butter on bread while child looks on (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Nutrient Content

Peanut butter is a good source of protein, B vitamins, iron, folic acid and fiber. It is high in monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. Some peanut butters do contain trans-fats, so a natural peanut butter that isn't made with hydrogenated oil is a healthier choice. Most natural peanut butters have peanut oil floating on the top. Peanut oil is a monounsaturated fat. Be sure to stir the oil into the peanut butter or it will be too difficult to spread. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 28 percent of the RDA of protein for children under the age of 10.

Kids Like It

The great thing about peanut butter is most kids like it, even picky eaters. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists it as a food to offer fussy eaters. Some kids will actually eat foods they wouldn't normally try if it has some peanut butter spread on it. Kids also like to dip foods, and peanut butter is a healthier option than dressings and some sauces. Try it on pretzels, fruits and even veggies.

Cost

Peanut butter is inexpensive. If your family is on a budget, peanut butter is a low-cost, good source of protein. It doesn't have to be refrigerated and can usually be stored opened for a couple of months. Natural peanut butter, however, often has to be refrigerated because it doesn't have the same preservatives as regular peanut butter. Unopened peanut butter usually lasts nine to 12 months.

Allergies

In an article published in the August 2005 journal "Pediatrics," the prevalence of peanut allergy doubled in children from 1997 to 2002. Some pediatricians are encouraging parents to wait until their child is 2 or 3 years old before offering peanut butter due to the increased prevalence of peanut allergies. If you have a family history of food allergies, you might want to follow this advice. If you don't have a family history of peanut, nut or other food allergies, you can offer your child peanut butter as early as age 1.

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