Fight obesity, heart disease and diabetes with peanut butter

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 20, 2016

Today, I’d like to share with you some facts about a food that’s more healthful than you might think: peanut butter. 

The origin of peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs, who crushed peanuts into a paste. It was first patented by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884.

Did you know it takes 540 peanuts to make one 12-ounce jar of peanut butter? The largest peanut butter factory (J.M. Smucker) churns out 250,000 jars of this full-flavored treat each day and Americans spend $800 million on peanut butter each year. The average American eats between six and seven pounds of peanut butter a year (my friends Krystal and Dominique eat twice that).

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Two former American presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter, were peanut farmers who contributed to peanut butter production.

The phobia of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth is called arachibutyrophobia.

By law, in America peanut butter must contain 90 percent peanuts. The peanut butter Americans consume in the course of one year is enough to coat the floor of the entire Grand Canyon.

There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches. There’s a jar of peanut butter in 75 percent of American homes.

Wisconsin is the largest producer of peanut butter in the U.S. More people on the East Coast seem to prefer creamy peanut butter, while more on the West Coast select crunchy peanut butter.

Now let’s turn our attention to some “healthful” peanut butter facts. Peanut butter is actually packed with nutrients. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming one ounce (about two tablespoons) of nuts or peanut butter at least five days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent.

It’s good for your heart. It appears eating peanut butter is twice as good for your heart as a very low fat diet. A study at Pennsylvania State University showed that a diet high in peanuts and monounsaturated (good) fats was as good at lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as very low fat diets.

Here’s an added bonus: in this university study, very low fat diets actually raised damaging triglycerides (fat in the blood) by 11 percent, while diets high in peanuts and peanut butter lowered triglycerides by 13 percent.

Peanut butter can actually help you lose weight, too. That’s right. In a study at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, researchers divided folks into two groups. One group limited fats to a very low 20 percent of calories consumed. The other group ate monounsaturated fat rich foods like peanut butter, olive oil, nuts, and avocados, which raised their fat intake to 35 percent. Both groups ate the same amount of calories − 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. Both groups lost around 11 pounds in the first six weeks.

Here’s the thing: twice as many of those who ate the peanut butter sustained their weight loss for 18 months.

Peanut butter also provides fiber. A two-tablespoon serving provides two grams of dietary fiber. Also, the type of fiber from peanut butter fights heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It also satisfies hunger. Peanut butter provides protein. There are seven grams of protein in two tablespoons of peanut butter.

By the way, my favorite is Creamy Jif.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, the SC state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.