Is peanut butter healthy?

Monday March 01 2021

The secret is eating the butter in moderation . PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES.

By Joan Salmon

It is a blessing to have plenty of groundnuts. That way, access to peanut butter (odi, kipoli) is not limited. You can also get it in its natural state, without additions of trans fats.

Ideally made out of peanuts and a little salt added, what does this delicious treat have to offer us? Here are some of its benefits:
Innocent Kabali, a nutritionist, says peanuts or groundnuts are packed with fat, magnesium, cooper, biotin protein, niacin, and Vitamin E. 

Muscle repair
Apart from helping with building the body, Kabali says proteins also aid body repair. “As such, consumption of peanut paste will help a child’s muscles grow while repairing torn muscles of an athlete. That is not forgetting strengthening and preserving them through the years,” he says. 
The paste also has magnesium and potassium, minerals that aid muscle functionality and development. 

Weight loss
Being fatty or oily, peanut butter sometimes gets a bad rap but Bruce Kiwanuka, a nutritionist, says the fat therein will keep you satisfied for long. 
“Therefore, rather than a bare slice of bread, spreading peanut paste on it makes it more filling. Even when eating a fruit, say a banana, dipping it in some peanut will leave you satisfied for a longer time. This helps with weight loss as you will not have to eat often,” he says.

Lowers the risk of heart disease 
Although fatty or oily, peanut paste has monounsaturated fats (omega-6) which Kiwanuka says are healthy and aid in reducing bad cholesterol, hence preventing heart disease. Peanut paste also has oleic acid, which apart from maintaining good cholesterol levels, maintains one’s blood sugar and blood pressure.

Improves gut health 
Peanuts have fibre which eases bowel movement. “Fibre boosts the bacteria living within the gut (microbiome) thus better digestion, better immunity and reduced inflammation,” Kabali says.


Ideal peanut brand
Most of the brands around us are locally made with no additives. 
“However, because of roasting, this peanut does not have any fortification which may be ideal for one looking to gain weight. So, if you want to gain weight, looking out for peanut paste that has been fortified,” Kabali says.

Peanut allergies:
If one is allergic to peanut butter, their immune system will consider the peanut proteins as invaders. “To fight these ’dangerous’ invaders, the body releases chemicals into the blood stream which could cause symptoms such as throat constriction, itching, skin reactions such as swelling, and redness, digestive issues such as vomiting as well as diarrhoea or cramps,” Innocent Kabali, a nutritionist, explains. 

However, he says, the most life threatening reaction is anaphylaxis which could land one into an emergency room.

Weight gain: While it is healthy on several fronts, Kabali says peanut paste is rich in calories and fat. “Therefore, it ought to be consumed in moderation to avoid unwanted weight gain,” he says.

Hindering mineral absorption: Rich in phosphorus, Kabali says excessive consumption of peanut butter will mean limitation in the body’s absorption of other minerals such as iron and zinc.