Peanut butter, like most foods, contains some fat. Fortunately, 80% of the fat in peanut butter is unsaturated fat — “the good fat” — which may actually help lower LDL-cholesterol levels in your blood. In fact, because peanut butter is so versatile, good tasting and nutritious, it is included in many medically endorsed weight loss and diabetic diets.
Fat, the most concentrated source of energy in your diet, is a vital nutrient. It provides essential fatty acids, helps maintain skin, and carries many fat soluble vitamins such as A, D and E. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fat is the culprit that can raise the cholesterol level in your blood. This type of fat is found mainly in animal foods such as meats and whole-fat milk and cheeses. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of the total daily intake of calories. Peanut butter contains only 3 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Unsaturated fat is the type of fat that, when used to replace saturated fat in the diet, can help lower LDL-cholesterol levels (the “bad” type of cholesterol) without lowering HDL-cholesterol (the “good” type of cholesterol). Peanut butter contains both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Nearly 80% of the fat contained in peanut butter is unsaturated.
Cholesterol is found only in animal products. Peanut butter is naturally cholesterol-free.
Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids formed when vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated to make the fat more solid. A very small amount of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is added to regular peanut butter to keep the oil from separating out, to increase the shelf life and to create a creamier peanut butter.
While the small amount of hydrogenated oil in regular peanut butter hardly warrants mention, consumers wishing to avoid it can always select a natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butters do not contain partially hydrogenated oil.