Although peanut butter is loaded with essential nutrients and can benefit your health, eating too much peanut butter is often problematic because of its fat and calorie content. The amount of peanut butter you should eat daily depends on your total daily calorie needs and weight-management goals.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference reports that a 2-tablespoon portion of smooth peanut butter contains 188 calories. Eating a lot of peanut butter in a day can quickly boost your calorie intake and pack on unwanted pounds. However, if weight gain is your goal, the extra calories from eating lots of peanut butter are beneficial.
Protein and Fat
Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provide 8 grams of protein and 16 grams of dietary fat. Some brands of peanut butter contain added omega-3 fatty acids or are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals. While most of the fat in peanut butter is unsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of the 16 fat grams in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter are from saturated fat, which can lead to high blood cholesterol when consumed in excess.
Many commercial varieties of peanut butter contain added salt. Getting excess sodium in your diet from eating too much peanut butter increases your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. A 2-tablespoon portion of peanut butter contains 147 milligrams of sodium, and the American Heart Association suggests limiting your sodium intake to just 1,500 milligrams daily. To reduce dietary sodium from peanut butter, try natural varieties that contain little or no added salt.
Peanut butter is a welcome addition to healthy meal plans, such as those provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, in moderation. Peanut butter can be counted as part of the protein or oils food groups. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend eating 5.5 ounces from the protein food group and 6 teaspoons of oils daily when consuming 2,000 calories per day. ChooseMyPlate.gov reports that 1 tablespoon of peanut butter counts as a 1-ounce portion from the protein foods group, and 1.5 teaspoons of peanut butter equals a 1-teaspoon portion from the oils group.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanut Butter, Smooth Style, With Salt
- American Heart Association: Reducing Sodium in a Salty World
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent in the Protein Foods Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Do I Count the Oils I Eat?