By any measure, peanut butter is one of the best things about breakfast. Salty, creamy and crunchy, if ever there was a worthy reason to drag yourself into the kitchen at 7AM, this condiment is surely it. Probably because it tastes genuinely delicious, eating peanut butter always feels a little naughty. As it turns out, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to two new studies, published separately by researchers at Harvard and San Diego State Universities, there is compelling evidence to suggest that peanut butter is a key ingredient in aiding weight loss, especially as we get older. The studies examined two separate aspects of nuts in our diet in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of what happens when we eat them, with one looking at the long term effects of nuts and peanuts on body weight, and the other focusing on how Brazil nuts impact insulin and blood sugar levels. The results were compelling.
The first study, conducted by Harvard research fellow Xiaoran Liu, found that “Adding one ounce of nuts to your diet in place of less healthy foods — such as red or processed meat, french fries or sugary snacks — may help prevent that slow, gradual weight gain after you enter adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases," according to a report in Medical News Today. Commenting further on the findings, Liu said "People often see nuts as food items high in fat and calories, so they hesitate to consider them as healthy snacks, but they are in fact associated with less weight gain and wellness." This also extends to peanut butter.
If the first study emphasised how nuts and peanuts can aid in weight loss, the second really shone a light on The range of health benefits that they are associated with. Researchers were able to prove that not only do Brazil nuts increase feelings of satiety after eating, but that they help the body to avoid spikes and crashes in blood sugar and insulin. This work highlights how including nuts in your diet can be a bonus.
The various health benefits of nuts have long been touted by nutrition experts. Almost all are rich in essential fatty acids, as well as fibre and protein, and many are believed to provide cardiovascular and other health benefits. This new weight loss theory just makes them even better. As Liu says, "Once people reach adulthood, they start to gradually gain about 1 pound a year of weight, which seems small. But if you consider gaining one pound over 20 years, it accumulates to a lot of weight gain." It might not be immediately obvious, but it’s clear that nuts and peanut butter can make a big difference.
It’s a fact of life that most of the foods that taste the best aren’t actually that good for us. To discover that we can eat something delicious and actually feel pretty good about it is as welcome as it is unusual. Breakfast lovers, celebrate! Peanut butter can certainly stay on the menu.