When dinner is hours away but you still have a lot to accomplish, a snack can help you power through the rest of the afternoon. Instead of reaching for a candy bar or cookie, consider the benefits of incorporating apples with peanut butter into your regimen. You'll get protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins in a small package. Just remember to include the calories from apples with peanut butter into your daily count.
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Apples with peanut butter are healthy, as long as you stick with the recommended serving size and allow for the calories in your overall daily count.
Choose a Healthy Snack
Americans consume about a quarter of their daily calories from snacks, according to an article published in Global Pediatric Health in 2017. Ninety-six percent of the population eats at least one snack a day, the authors report.
The word "snack," though, gets a bad rap because of its association with unhealthy products like chips, candy, ice cream and cookies, which contribute salt, sugar, fat and calories to the diet and not much else.
Too often, these foods are more readily available than healthier choices because they're common fare in vending machines. A snack, however, can also mean healthy foods, like apples with peanut butter, which not only taste good but supply essential nutrients.
A snack that includes peanut butter might even help control obesity and overweight problems, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children in 2015. In the study, children who consumed peanuts or peanut butter as a daily snack for six months reduced their body mass index significantly more than those who did not. The researchers concluded that a snack featuring peanut butter helped the participants manage their weight.
Read more: Are Apples a Good Snack for Weight Loss?
The Calories You'll Get
The serving size for peanut butter is just 2 tablespoons — about the size of a pingpong ball. If you cut up a small apple and smear that amount of peanut butter onto the slices, your snack will contain 265 calories, regardless of whether you choose smooth or chunky peanut butter.
It's not a small amount, so if you add apples with peanut butter to your meal plan, you'll need to make sure you aren't exceeding the recommended calorie intake for your age, gender and physical activity.
On a 2,000-calorie diet, this snack constitutes 13 percent of the daily value for calories. Because peanut butter contains more than twice the calories of an apple, reducing your portion to a tablespoon of peanut butter will cut the calories to 171.
You get plenty of nutritional benefits when you choose apples with peanut butter. A small apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter supplies 7 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily value. Your body needs protein to build muscle and tissue, among other functions.
Apples with peanut butter provide 29 grams of carbohydrate, which your body needs to fuel its various systems. Fruits like apples are smart carb choices because they also supply fiber, the indigestible part of plant foods that support good digestion and heart health. A serving of apples with peanut butter offers more than 5 grams of fiber, or 21 percent of your daily needs.
The combination of protein and fiber in apples with peanut butter keeps you feeling full longer. Satiating foods have links to weight loss and management, according to an article published in Trends in Food Science & Technology in 2015. Unlike a sugar-laden candy bar or cookie, which may leave you craving more, an apple with peanut butter suppresses appetite and holds you over until your next meal.
The downside to this snack is that the spread is high in fat. While a plain apple provides no fat at all, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter gives you 24 percent of the daily value for total fat, of which 15 percent is saturated.
If your diet consists mainly of plant foods, that much saturated fat in your snack probably won't be a problem. Lots of healthy plant foods, like olive oil and tofu, contain some saturated fat. However, if your meals rely heavily on meat and other animal products, you may be taking in too much saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease.
Peanut butter is rich in minerals, so a snack of apple with peanut butter gives you an excellent array of these nutrients. A serving offers 10 percent or more of the daily value for these minerals:
Magnesium and phosphorus, both macrominerals, contribute to healthy bones. Magnesium also supports muscle contraction. The trace minerals copper and manganese make up many of the body's enzymes, while selenium is an antioxidant that fights free radicals, the molecules that can damage your DNA.
In the minus column, peanut butter can also be high in sodium, which is often added to processed foods for taste. Two tablespoons give you 6 percent of the daily value. Your body needs some sodium, but too much in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Read labels for sodium content and stick to brands marked low in sodium or that contain just peanuts without salt. Many supermarkets stock unsalted peanuts in the bulk section and allow you to grind them in the store.
What About Vitamins?
Your apple with peanut butter also supplies a good mix of vitamins. Most notable are the B vitamins and vitamin E that the peanut butter part of your snack contributes. A serving contains 27 percent of the daily value for niacin and 14 percent for vitamin B6.These B vitamins help your body metabolize food into energy and also support the health of your nervous system.
Vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant, boosts immunity. It can also support the health and flexibility of your blood vessels. An apple with peanut butter snack gives you 15 percent of the daily value for this nutrient.
Beware: Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergy is among the most common food intolerances, according to Food Allergy and Research Education, and has been on the rise among children. Those who are allergic to peanuts and peanut butter may experience anaphylaxis from ingestion of even a small amount. Even skin contact can trigger symptoms, although this is less common.
FARE reports that about 20 percent of children with peanut allergy eventually outgrow it. However, for most, it's a lifelong affliction, and the only solution is complete avoidance of peanuts and peanut products.
Read more: Symptoms of a Peanut Butter Allergy
- Global Pediatric Health: The Nutrient Density of Snacks
- Journal of Applied Research on Children: Benefits of a Snacking Intervention as Part of a School-Based Obesity Intervention for Mexican American Children
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Serving Size Card
- My Food Data: Unsalted Peanut Butter, Chunk Style Peanut Butter, Smooth Peanut Butter, Small Apple
- Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: Protein
- Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- Trends in Food Science & Technology: Optimizing Foods for Satiety
- MedlinePlus: Facts About Saturated Fats
- University of Michigan Medicine: Minerals
- Better Health Channel: Vitamin B
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Food Allergy Research and Education: Peanut Allergy