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Rebel Nutrition: Benefiting from Peanut Butter September 15, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Diet.
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Published on September 13, 2007

Peanut butter is a highly enjoyed food that offers nutritional value.

Due to its high protein profile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture places it in the meat category of the food pyramid. Since the nuts are high in “good” fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, the nut butter can actually lower bad LDL cholesterol.

With all the varieties out there, does it really make a difference if one opts for a natural brand opposed to a commercial one?

There are two things one should consider when purchasing this heart healthy food: ingredients and production climate.

Natural brands of peanut butter contain only peanuts and may have sugar, salt or natural oils added to enhance taste and texture.

Commercial brands contain a small amount, usually two percent or less, of partially and fully hydrogenated oils. They also contain emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides to improve consistency and shelf-life.

Hydrogenation is a process that adds hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fatty acids. The addition converts liquid fats (oils) into a more solid form.

This conversion often creates trans-fatty acids. Although most commercial brands list zero grams of trans-fat in the nutritional information box, a very small amount can be present.

If a product contains traces of trans fat per serving, the manufacturer is not required to list it. Some companies make mention of this by stating, “contains trivial amounts of trans fat.”

The trivial amount of trans fat can add up if one is eating more than one serving at a

time. Consuming trans fat increases levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, which contributes to fatty acid build up in arteries.

According to WebMD.com, this extra coating in arteries is an indicator of heart disease and will increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The manufacturing process of peanut butter is important because it may facilitate the growth of a cancer-causing carcinogen.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the father of integrative medicine, the natural toxin aflatoxin is produced by specific strains of mold. It thrives on peanuts stored in warm and humid conditions. Aflatoxin is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

Storing natural peanut butters and nuts properly will greatly reduce their risk of growing the mold and prolong their shelf-life. After opening, natural peanut butter should be refrigerated.

K.D. Alexander, an herbalist for more than 20 years, only eats natural, raw nut butters. “Refrigerating nut butters is a good practice,” Alexander said. “The oil in nuts and nut butters can become rancid quickly, especially in Las Vegas.”

Processed peanut butters have a lower risk of developing the mold because they contain chemical preservatives.

It is easy to store and safely indulge in this savory spread.

Write expiration dates three or four months from the opening date on top of the jar. The perfect place for storing nuts is the freezer. Because it is cool, the low humidity environment will inhibit spoilage from oils.

For easier spreading, place nut butter jars upside down in the fridge so the oil doesn’t sit at the top.

Since nuts are produced once a year during the late summer and fall months, now is the best time to buy.

There is a multitude of peanut and nut butters most people are unaware of. If one is looking to try something new, all nuts have a nut butter counterpart.

Almonds are high in vitamin E and calcium. Cashews have high amounts of monosaturated fat and are good sources of copper and magnesium. Macadamia nuts are high in protein and fiber and using this butter will make phenomenal chocolate chip cookies.

Creative peanut butters from The Peanut Butter and Co. will satisfy any sweet tooth. White Chocolate Wonderful, Dark Chocolate Dreams and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl are some of the company’s most popular flavors. These gluten-free vegan peanut butters are all-natural and contain no hydrogenated oils or refined sugar.

If one is allergic to nuts, sunflower seed and pumpkin seed butter are safe and tasty alternatives. Sunflower seed butter is packed with vitamin E and fiber. Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids make pumpkin seed butter a nutritious and delicious choice.

Peanut butter is a healthy source of protein and aids in lowering bad cholesterol.

When indulging in this naturally divine food, be sure storage does not make it have the opposite effect.

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