November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month! Peanuts are rich in nutrition and when eaten thoughtfully can provide a noteworthy allocation to your diet. Today I am not advising that you rush off to celebrate this food holiday with a king-sized Reece’s (anyone eyeing their kids leftover Halloween candy yet?), but rather pause to think about how peanuts, and all nuts, can be eaten in a healthy and delicious manner!
Nuts are high in fat, but high in the good fat; this type of fat is called monosaturated, the heart-healthy kind!
Polyunsaturated fats are also good for you when eaten in moderation. Fats to watch out for are the saturated and trans fats. These are the ones that can reek havoc with your health. Monosaturated fats should equal about 25-35% of your daily caloric intake. You can obtain this goal by eating legumes, nuts and seeds, avocados, and healthy oils. (Learn more about fats!) Peanuts provide a good source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, and magnesium. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein. This heafty amount will assist you in muscle repair if you have been working out, and will also keep you fuller, longer!
Many people are hesitant about eating nuts for fear of weight gain, and rightly so. Nut are delicious and very satisfying. They can easily be over consumed if they are not measured out per serving. However, I wouldn’t let concerns about weight gain stop you from eating them. Just be sure to be wise when and how you eat them. For example, you’ll want to avoid commercial nut butters that read: reduced fat; they generally contain added sugar to replace the flavor that is lost when the fat is removed. The added sugar provides calories that are deficient in healthy nutrients. –Livestrong.com
Nuts are not only good for your heart and your waistline, but they are also great to ignite our outer beauty and swag! Nuts are anti-inflammatory which can decrease breakouts and other skin irritations. The vitamin E found in nuts is also helpful in skin repair.
We have explored the facts about peanut butter being a great addition to your diet, but how does it compare to my personal love, almond butter?
Almond butter offers a little more fiber than peanut butter: 1.6 grams of fiber, while peanut butter has 0.9 grams. Meeting your daily fiber needs, which ranges from 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day depending on your age and gender, might lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Livestrong.com
Almonds have more vitamin E than peanuts and are a great source of manganese, copper, and riboflavin (vitamin B 2).
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders that included 65 overweight and obese adults suggests that an almond-enriched low calorie diet (which is high in monounsaturated fats) can help overweight individuals shed pounds more effectively than a low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates. Those on the almond-enriched low calorie diet consumed 39% of their calories in the form of fat, 25% of which was monounsaturated fat. In contrast, those on the low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates consumed only 18% of their calories as fat, of which 5% was monounsaturated fat, while 53% of their calories were derived from carbohydrate. Both diets supplied the same number of calories and equivalent amounts of protein. After 6 months, those on the almond-enriched diet had greater reductions in weight (-18 vs. -11%), their waistlines (-14 vs. -9%), body fat (-30 vs. -20%), total body water (-8 vs. -1%), and systolic blood pressure (-11 vs. 0%). Those eating almonds experienced a 62% greater reduction in their weight/BMI (body mass index), 50% greater reduction in waist circumference, and 56% greater reduction in body fat compared to those on the low calorie high carbohydrate diet! Among those subjects who had type 1 diabetes, diabetes medication reductions were sustained or further reduced in 96% of those on the almond-enriched diet versus in 50% of those on the complex carbohydrate diet.-whfoods.com
Almonds and other nuts may be a good choice for many individuals as we have noticed the rise of peanut allergies, especially among children.
Peanuts allergies can range anywhere from anaphylactic shock to irritation. An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure, and symptoms range from mild to severe. Peanut allergy signs and symptoms can include:
Skin reactions, such as hives, redness or swelling
Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
Tightening of the throat
Shortness of breath or wheezing
Anaphylaxis: A life-threatening reaction Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-induced anaphylaxis, a medical emergency that requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector (EpiPen, Twinject) and a trip to the emergency room.
Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms can include all of the above, plus:
Constriction of airways
Swelling of your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
A severe drop in blood pressure (shock)
Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
All in all, if nuts are a safe choice for you, let’s get to the good stuff! What are some of the most delicious and healthy ways to consume them?
1. Nut butters!
My favorite way to enjoy nuts is by throwing them into my food processor (nothing but nuts!) and making a homemade butter. I love to mix flavors by blending almonds, walnuts, and even cashews into one batch. Eating a serving with some apple slices or on some warm toast in the morning not only tastes good but feels good knowing that it is pure and natural.
2. Cook with them!
Not up for at home processing? No problem! Check out some of the healthiest brands in the supermarket. You may also try to sprinkle some peanuts onto your salads or add onto some healthy sauted chicken and vegetables. Eatingwell.com offers additional ways to incorporate this lovely legume into more of your meals! Loving almonds right now? Eat them raw out of the bag, or keep things interesting with more fun ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Enjoy a thoughtful treat by incorporating peanut butter into your homemade treats!
No Bake Energy Bites
Peanut Butter Secrets
Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt
Peanut Butter Homemade Protein Bars
4 . A smoothing made with nut butter can satisfy you and keep you full! Eat pre or post workout…you will feel like you are being bad because this is so decadent!
5. Raw and unsalted.
If it is difficult for you to eat nuts without the salt, I challenge you to buy them raw and unsalted and then add a dash of sea salt at home!
I hope that you can incorporate peanut butter, and all nuts for that matter, into your diet in a healthy and thoughtful way this month and forward!
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to consume this heart-healthy delicacy!
Enjoy the celebration!
“Almonds.” Weblog post. Whfoods.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.
“Monounsaturated Fats.” Monounsaturated Fats. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.
“Peanuts.” Whfoods.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 June 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.