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When looking at the different spreads that are available to us today, peanut butter remains an incredibly popular choice. After all, this tasty item can transform relatively plain food into mouth-watering snacks. However, researchers have now suggested that the nutty treat could have a startling impact on your body if you add it to your daily diet.

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Unlike standard brands of butter or margarine, peanut butter has an unusual consistency that makes it stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s creamy or crunchy, these spreads are so thick that they can become glued to the top of the mouth. And as it softens above your tongue, you’re then greeted by its fantastic taste.

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Peanut butter also has the uncanny ability to go with anything, adding a new layer of taste to tried and tested snacks. For instance, while a helping of chocolate is already delicious, the nutty spread can take things to another level. But when discussing the best of these combinations, you can’t overlook a particular treat.

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Of course, we’re referring to the dream combination of peanut butter and jelly. So, keeping that in mind, you might already be consuming a daily serving of the former throughout the week. If you’re not, though, a group of experts have outlined the reasons for why you should consider the idea.

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But for now, let’s dive into some of the statistics regarding the popularity of peanut butter. In terms of sales, it’s believed that American consumers splashed around $1.85 billion on the nutty treat back in 2017. To break things down even further, that amounted to well over 500 million jars leaving the shelves.

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The following year, some additional research also revealed that close to 290 million residents in the United States ate peanut butter. That’s obviously a huge number, and proves just how beloved the tasty spread really is across the country. Yet the stats don’t end there, as we’re about to find out.

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The Texas Peanuts website also has some interesting statistics in relation to peanut butter consumption in the United States. According to the site, hungry Americans each consume an average of about three pounds of the stuff annually. In total, then, the site claims that around 700 million pounds of the delicious spread gets eaten per year.

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As a result of those numbers, you might think that the U.S. leads the way when it comes to eating peanut butter. However, that assessment would prove to be incorrect. You see, both the Netherlands and Canada ingest larger portions per person, highlighting that the product has lots of fans outside America.

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Meanwhile, there are different varieties of peanut butter on the market today, giving us plenty of choice. To explain more, Kris Gunnars dived into the subject while writing for the Healthline website in April 2018. As a nutrition expert, he offered some information on the contents of the popular spreads.

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Gunnars’ post read, “Peanut butter is a relatively unprocessed food. It’s basically just peanuts, often roasted, that are ground until they turn into a paste. However, this doesn’t apply to many commercial brands of peanut butter that contain various added ingredients, such as sugar, vegetable oils and even trans fat.”

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“Eating too much added sugar and trans fat has been linked to various health problems, such as heart disease,” Gunnars went on. “Rather than buying junk food, choose real peanut butter. It should contain nothing but peanuts and maybe a bit of salt.” On that note, here are a few things to consider during your shopping trips.

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When looking for a jar of peanut butter at the supermarket, the labeling might confuse you. For example, what’s the difference between a “natural” product and a “regular” item? How about the “unsweetened” option? The choices could leave you in a spin, but each of them have their own distinct properties.

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Let’s start with regular peanut butter. These products harbor three distinctive additives in hydrogenated oils, salt and sweeteners, while peanuts make up no less than 90 percent of the contents. Away from that, the unsweetened options hold no supplementary sugar. More often than not, they’re seen as one of the healthier choices.

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As for the natural peanut butter products, they have a very distinctive look. The spreads are free from hydrogenated oils, but you might still notice peanut oil sitting on top of it. So, before slapping the paste on to your snacks, you need to mix it up, which creates the recognizable texture.

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After a certain amount of time, the oils will naturally rise up out of the peanut butter. That means you’ll have to mix them again ahead of your next meal. A writer named Max Bonem went on to outline some other details regarding natural and regular peanut butters on the Food & Drink website.

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Writing in May 2017, Bonem said, “Natural peanut butter tends to be a bit grainier than its conventional counterpart. Even if it’s ‘creamy.’ The natural separation [between the spread and the oil] is more likely to occur if you store peanut butter at room temperature. However, if you refrigerate it, natural peanut butter becomes much more difficult to work with.”

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At that point, Bonem then looked at the regular options. He added, “Conventional peanut butter is a cohesive spread that remains as is, regardless of temperature or where it’s stored. If you’re someone who enjoys the occasional spoonful of peanut butter to snack on, conventional is undoubtedly the way to go.”

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As Gunnars previously highlighted, though, regular peanut butter products hold trans fats. So, while they might be easier to use than the natural spreads, these items could actually pose a risk to our long-term health. To break things down even further, a professor from the University of Missouri came forward in June 2013.

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Speaking to the Infegy website, Dr. Dale Brigham said, “Trans fats do the ‘double whammy’ of increasing heart disease risk by lowering HDL [high-density lipoprotein], the good cholesterol, and raising LDL [low-density lipoprotein], the bad cholesterol. Even if regular peanut butter has a label that states ‘zero grams trans fat,’ it can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving.”

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However, while there are clearly some downsides to eating certain types of peanut butter, you shouldn’t forget about the health benefits. Like we noted before, researchers believed that a daily serving of the spread could do wonders for your body. Keeping that in mind, here are a few of those perks.

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For instance, did you know that peanuts can help you to shed weight? Although they’re rather addictive, the fat and protein found in the nuts should satiate your hunger after a few bites. In turn, that can stop you from overindulging. Furthermore, a 2018 research project also hinted that the snack could lessen your chances of becoming obese.

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That extends to peanut butter as well, with Gunnars offering his perspective. “Since peanut butter is very high in fat, a 100-gram portion contains a hefty dose of 588 calories,” he wrote on the Healthline website. “Despite their high calorie content, eating moderate amounts of pure peanut butter or whole peanuts is perfectly fine on a weight-loss diet.”

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Gunnars continued, “Half of the fat in peanut butter is made up of oleic acid, a healthy type of monounsaturated fat also found in high amounts in olive oil. Oleic acid has been linked to several health benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity. Peanut butter also contains some linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid abundant in most vegetable oils.”

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Meanwhile, peanut butter possesses some other notably healthy properties, too. As a matter of fact, the tasty spread contains a number of different vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and vitamin E. It’s also packed with minerals like copper, magnesium, zinc and iron, which bring their own benefits to our bodies.

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Alongside that, purer versions of peanut butter could be especially helpful to a certain group of individuals today. If you suffer from a form of diabetes, Gunnars believes that the food item is an ideal thing to integrate into your diet. And in addition to that, the nutrition researcher made another fascinating claim in his post.

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Gunnars said, “[Peanut butter] also causes a very low rise in blood sugar, and is a perfect option for people with type 2 diabetes. One observational study showed that women who ate peanut butter five times per week or more were at a 21 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. These benefits have been partly attributed to oleic acid.”

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Elsewhere, peanut butter has the potential to help your brain and mental health as well. That might sound a little strange at first, but hear us out. You see, the nutty treat harbors monounsaturated fatty acids, otherwise known as MUFAs. These can actually protect the functionality of your vital organ.

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That’s especially helpful if you’re susceptible to stress, because that feeling usually has a negative impact on your brain’s activities. Simply put, a boost in MUFAs should shield your brain from the aforementioned emotion. As for your mental health, a daily dose of peanut butter might soothe a couple of underlying issues.

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Keeping your anxiety under control can be a very difficult task at times. Yet thanks to the beta-sitosterol found in peanut butter, you might be able to ease those troublesome feelings. If you’re wondering how that happens, the substance has the power to lower the levels of something called cortisol.

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During periods of stress, the human body might slip into a state known as “fight or flight mode.” At this point, it produces a hormone called cortisol. But when the beta-sitosterol enters your system and brings the levels down, you should begin to feel a lot calmer than you had before.

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Away from that, expectant mothers might want to think about adding peanut butter to their diets as well. Back in 2015 a group from Vanderbilt University helmed a project that looked into the health benefits of the spread. And over the course of their research, they made a stunning discovery regarding unborn babies.

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According to the researchers, if a pregnant woman has three to five servings of peanut butter each week, her baby will be less likely to be allergic. The belief is that the contents from the snack will filter down to her womb, allowing the youngster to “acclimatize” to it. Unsurprisingly, that could save a lot of hassle in the future.

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And if that wasn’t enough, a different project from the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment publication brought forward an additional suggestion. Following some research, they claimed that young women could lessen their chances of getting the disease by consuming more peanut butter. Alongside the treat, foods like soy, beans and vegetables were also said to help.

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However, among all of these positives, there’s something else to keep in mind, too. While we discussed one of the negative aspects of peanut butter earlier on, Gunnars brought up another concerning point in his Healthline post. As it turns out, the popular product might be harboring a potentially dangerous property.

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Gunnars revealed, “Even though peanut butter is quite nutritious, it may also contain substances that can be harmful. At the top of the list are the so-called aflatoxins. Peanuts grow underground, where they tend to be colonized by a ubiquitous mold called Aspergillus. This mold is a source of aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic.”

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“While humans are fairly resistant to the short-term effects of aflatoxins, what happens down the line is not fully known at this point,” Gunnars continued. “Some human studies have linked aflatoxin exposure to liver cancer and stunted growth in children.” Despite those concerns, though, he did have “some good news.”

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Gunnars cited a source that claimed the risks posed by aflatoxins were cut by 89 percent in peanut butter. This was due to the production process, where the peanuts get ground into the paste. In addition to that, the researcher noted that the United States Department of Agriculture kept watch over the substance, too.

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To round things off, Gunnars offered his thoughts on the idea of adding peanut butter to your daily diet. In his mind, the health benefits were certainly worth it, yet he did raise a concern. Indeed, the Healthline writer suggested that you shouldn’t overindulge on the spread, especially if you’re eating unhealthy snacks.

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“There are a lot of good things about peanut butter,” Gunnars wrote. “It’s fairly rich in nutrients and a decent protein source. It’s also loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Even though you shouldn’t use peanut butter as a dominant food source in your diet, it’s probably fine to eat every now and then in small amounts.”

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Gunnars then concluded, “Moderate consumption of peanut butter is unlikely to have any major negative effects. [So] long as you are avoiding truly awful foods like sugary soda, trans fats and other highly processed junk foods.” Given what we’ve learned here about the health benefits, that’s some good advice to follow.

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