Peanut butter has gradually become one of the most popularly known spreads all over the world. It is widely used as a bread spread by many.
These mashed, roasted peanuts deliver a yummy taste that many can go the extra mile to get. It is almost always a must-have in the beverages and snacks of teenagers, youths, and adults.
Research has shown how great this edible paste can be to our health, but does this include gut health? This guide contains the explanation of a registered dietician concerning the impact of peanut butter on gut health.
Let's dive right in.
What Exactly Is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is basically peanuts. It is roasted peanuts that have been grounded into a smooth paste. Most commercial producers usually add other ingredients to give it a lovely taste. Some of them are vegetable oil, added sugar, and trans fats.
It contains a number of nutrients: Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, antioxidants, some vitamins, and minerals. It is a great source of proteins, and those without added sugars are nice for diabetic patients. Also, the fat in peanut butter is a healthy type, monounsaturated fats, the same type found in olive oil.
Although certain people react to this spread, it is essentially healthy for other categories of people when used in moderation.
The Impact Of Peanut Butter On Gut Health
Although peanut butter has great health benefits, it can also negatively affect the gut, especially when consumed in excess. According to the registered dietician, Gillean Barkyoumb, one serving of peanut butter, equivalent to two spoons, is sufficient for a meal. The following are some effects on the gut.
- Abdominal pain
Although rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, Peanut butter contains a higher percentage of fat. When consumed in excess, these fats can cause more harm than good. Excess fats in the upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT) can lead to bloating from indigestion. This can further lead to abdominal pain.
With indigestion and bloating, other complications can also arise in the gut. Hence, peanut butter is best consumed in moderation. But when these discomforts are still experienced, despite adequate consumption, it could be due to allergy to some of the ingredients in the paste.
Peanut butter is also known to cause constipation, especially when consumed in excess and without proper hydration. According to Barkyoumb, peanuts contain fibers, true, but when these fibers are not pushed down the gut by sufficient water, they hang on there and end up being a cause of the problem instead of solving a problem.
Without following up with proper hydration after consuming peanut butter, constipation is likely to occur. This discomforting situation can expose the gut to toxins and affect a person's general health.
- Weight Gain
Peanut butter with added sugars can slowly lead to weight gain in some people. This yummy-tasting paste can be addictive if not consciously controlled, and for someone with a slow metabolic rate, weight gain is likely to follow. When obesity eventually sets in, it goes a long way in causing a disbalance in the normal gut microbiota.
Another fact is that sugary foods are not healthy for the gut. They lead to the breeding and growth of unhealthy bacteria, which can result in different forms of infections.
Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, advises that we check the container label to be sure that there are no added sugars before purchasing.
Some Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter
- Antioxidant Effect
As seen earlier, peanut butter is rich in various nutrients, including specific vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin D3, E, B6, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium, selenium, etc.
Some of these nutrients are very helpful in wading off disease-causing free radicals from the body. Some of these antioxidants presentations include resveratrol and p-coumaric acid. They respectively work against heart diseases and arthritis.
- Protein Effect
Peanut butter is very rich in protein and certain amino acids. Those without added sugars are good choices for vegans and anyone looking to lose weight.
The high protein content makes this snack good for building and repairing body cells and tissues.
- Fiber Constituent
Peanut butter also contains a good amount of fiber. This fiber is very efficient in preventing constipation and helping the gut microbiota. When peanut butter is consumed in moderation, followed by a good amount of water, then its positive effect on digestive health issues is experienced.
- Fat Constituent
As we have seen earlier, peanut butter is rich in trans fats (monounsaturated fats). These are the good kinds of fats that help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health. An example of this is oleic acid, the same type found in olive oil.
Hypertensive patients and those with high cholesterol levels should not be afraid of incorporating peanut butter into their diets. They should only be sure to use those purchased from credible stores. They should also be careful to consume in moderation.
- Low Glycemic Index
The fiber and monounsaturated fat content of peanut butter impart less calories in the bloodstream. This is why it is perfect for diabetic patients and those looking to lose weight.
Hence, it is necessary to be sure that the brand of peanut butter being purchased is free from any form of added sugars.
Peanut butter is a healthy snack stocked with lots of nutrients for a healthy body system. But just like too much of everything is bad, too much peanut butter can also be unhealthy.
Registered dieticians recommend not more than three servings per day, with a serving of peanut butter equivalent to two spoonfuls of the snack.
In addition, drinking sufficient water alongside the consumption of this snack is very important for the health benefits to be enjoyed. Because it is high in fats, lack of hydration can make this snack to cause more harm, especially in the gut.
Make your health your priority!