Craving Peanut Butter: Is It Safe Or Just Another Unhealthy Snack?

Food yearnings are very common. Distinct from hunger, cravings can be a desire for a specific food such as peanut butter. A food craving maybe your body’s way of indicating you that your body is deficient in certain nutrients such as a vitamin or mineral.

General causes of these cravings can be restricted to eating and dieting.

Why do I crave peanut butter?

Our body signifies us when it needs something. Peanut butter craving can be a signal of an underlying nutritional deficiency as peanut butter is very rich in nutrients.

Various nutrients found in peanut butter include:

  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Unsaturated fat
  • Amino acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Folate
  • Niacin

Phytonutrients like beta-sitosterol are also found in peanut butter. A study on animals indicated that beta-sitosterol consisted of value as an antidepressant. 

Other benefits of beta-sitosterol include reduced feeling of anxiety, possibly by stabilizing cortisol a hormone released during times of stress. Animal research indicated that stress can trigger cravings of high-fat foods. You may find yourself eating a jar of peanut butter if you are feeling anxious, stressed out or depressed, because peanut butter may help you reduce those feelings.

Peanut Butter Cravings

People on a low-fat diet can also crave peanut butter as the body does not get enough healthy fats. 

People having those dietary plants which have low carbohydrate may also crave peanut butter. Low-carb dieters may crave peanut butter because of its slightly sweet taste, fine texture and nutritional makeup. Low sugar varieties of peanut butter are permissible for those on low-carb diets.

Should one see a doctor?

Craving peanut butter does not indicate any underlying medical condition. However, if you feel like discussing your cravings with your health advisor you must do so. 

In case you think craving peanut butter might be the only way that you can tackle depression, anxiety or stress, talking to your therapist is always a good idea.

Substitutes for peanut butter cravings

For those on diet plans, peanut butter may not be the best food option because of its calorie density. Although, peanut butter should not be eliminated from your diet as it is not filled with empty calories.

Adding healthy fats, high fibre, healthy carbohydrates and significant nutritional value to your diet may assist in reducing your cravings and the amount you eat.

The following food might help in the reduction of peanut butter cravings:

  1. Avocado
  2. Sunflower seeds
  3. Dark chocolate
  4. Olive oil
  5. Coconut oil
  6. Cheese
  7. Carrots
  8. Apples
  9. Low-sugar yoghurt
  10. Whole grain bread
  11. Sourdough bread

Lifestyle modifications for stress and depression may also help. They may include:

  •  Exercise
  •  Yoga
  •  Meditation
  •  Talking to a therapist
  •  Creating a support system or socializing

Peanut butter on your periods to help cramp

A snack option like peanut butter is a perfect solution for sudden hunger strikes during your periods. Just a couple of tablespoons will enrich you with protein, fats and fibre. Plus, peanut butter is full of vitamin E which assists with cramping and inflammation.

Craving peanut butter during pregnancy

Craving for peanut butter during pregnancy could be a signal that your body needs either vitamin B or protein. In case you don’t get enough, instead of eating the entire jar, pair it with healthy food like apples or avocados.

More about peanut butter

Made from ground, dry-roasted peanuts, peanut butter is a food spread which also contains additional ingredients that enhances the taste and texture such as salt sweeteners or emulsifiers. Popular in many countries, the United States is the leading exporter of peanut butter and itself expends $800 million on peanut butter every year. 

Peanut butter has a variety of uses such as peanut flavoured granola, smoothies, crepes, cookies, brownies or croissants. 

Crunchy, smooth and great in taste peanut butter is always a good option.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

  • Peanut butter is made from roasted ground peanuts which in addition has sugar, salt(sodium), oils(fat) and other additives.
  • Peanut butter is a part of the meat and alternatives food group in Canada’s food guide.
  • A protein-rich meat alternative, peanut butter also provides fibre, healthy fats, vitamin E and folate.

Look for the following things when buying peanut butter

  • Two variants of peanut butter include smooth and crunchy peanut butter. Crunchy peanut butter contains crushed nuts.
  • The best alternative is peanut butter with just one ingredient listed: peanuts. In case you buy a jar of peanut butter which is made only with nuts, the oil will rise to the top of the jar and you will have to stir it, again and again, each time you use it. Flipping the jar upside down may also help. 
  • “Natural” peanut butter indicates that the peanut butter is made only using nuts.
  • Prefer buying “light” (lower fat) peanut butter.
  • Compare brands to get the best.
  • Large containers are always a practical purchase. Always check the unit pricing to be certain.
  • Never leave the opportunity to buy extra when on sale. If you find it hard to go grocery shopping, always keep some stock!

Things to do with peanut butter

Make a smoothie

Basic ingredients like milk, yoghurt and fruit are a part of smoothies. All of these ingredients are mixed with an electric blender until smooth. You can also give a try to peanut butter raspberry or banana combinations. About one tablespoon peanut butter per serving can be used or a little more to suit your tastes.

Use it as a dip or spread

Either spread it over crunchy celery sticks or try it as a dip with apple or pear slices or low-sodium pretzel sticks.

A portable snack

Keep a jar at work or try a peanut butter sandwich with one slice of bread as a snack.

Make a simple peanut sauce

Stir it into noodles or stir fry dishes or simply serve it with grilled meats or shrimp.

The bottom line

Food cravings are unlike hunger and can occur for certain foods such as peanut butter. Food cravings do not imply that you have some health issues instead simply determine the root cause of a food craving and it will help you understand how best to deal with it.

Peanut butter is a portion of healthy food and does not pose a health risk but should be consumed in an appropriate amount as it is dense in calories. Try the foods mentioned above to alleviate a peanut butter craving. If anxiety or stress is the reason for your cravings prefer changing your lifestyle or talking to a therapist.

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