Real Peanut Butter
We have been making Veggie Perrin's Pure Peanut Butter for about 20 years now. As it is only made from roasted peanuts it really has the real peanutty taste, unlike the adulterated brands found in most supermarket. It is a very versatile food; use in sandwiches or on toast with fruit or jam. You can add to soups, pasta dishes, make pesto and satay or other dips and sauces.
Whilst most people buy Veggie Perrin's pure peanut butter for its fantastic taste, it also has many other nutritional benefits.
The much maligned Peanut is probably the worlds first recognised superfood. Although it is high in Calories it is also a very good source of protein and unsaturated oils, fibre, vitamins and minerals and other nutrients.
The peanut plant
Of course, the peanut is not a nut at all; it is actually a legume (pea - nut) and contains the same nutrients as found in both legumes and nuts. Nuts grow on trees, this plant grows in the ground and has flowers which are self-polinating. The petals fall off to reveal a fertilized oviary which is at the tip of a small stem called a peg. This peg then buries itself and the pod develops in the ground. (Hence the term ground nut). When the pods are fully developed, the plant dies but next years seeds are already planted! How clever is that?
The peanut was first known to exist in South America as far back as 950BC. It reached the United States probably via Africa and commercial cultivation commenced in America in the early 19th century. Around the end of the 19th century it is said that a doctor working in St Louis was looking for a way of feeding protein to poor people who could not chew meat because they had bad teeth. He ground the nuts into a paste using his meat grinder.
Around this time, Dr John Harvey Kellogg, brother of Will Keith Kellogg (of Kelloggs Cornflake fame) made a paste for his patients at his Battle Creek Sanitorium (a health food retreat) who were on a vegetarian diet. Again the peanut paste was a way of getting protein in their diets.
The Kellogg brothers actually patented the first peanut butter process in 1895, described as "a pasty adhesive substance that is for convenience of distinction termed nut butter". The term "nut butter", remains with us today and still describes the consistency rather than the content, as there is no butter in peanut butter. For the paste to be described as "peanut butter" it must contain at least 90% peanuts. The Kellogg brothers steamed their peanuts before grinding and as they are now roasted they would have had a rather different taste than the stuff we are familiar with today.
As with many good simple products the companies marketing peanut butter could not wait to modify it by adding other ingredients. The first of course, is salt. With pure peanut butter the oil separates from the solids over a period of time, so ingredients with emulsifying properties are added such as Palm Oil, Soya Lethicin or even Hydrogenated Fats (now banned in most places). Some have sugar added.
Veggie Perrin's Pure Peanut Butter only contains roasted peanuts. NO salt, NO sugar, NO emulsifiers. The oil separating from the solids is quickly remedied by stiring!
A spoonful a day keeps the doctor at bay
Researchers at Harvard Medical School analysed the diets of over 6,000 women with type 2 diabetes over a period of 22 years. They found that those snacking on peanuts or peanut butter (one tablespoon a day, 5 days a week) had reduced their risk of heart attack or stroke by up to 44%! Another study this time with 84,000 women published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that eating the same amount could actually reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Peanut butter has a relatively low Glycemic Index and so is considered an excellent food (as part of a healthy diet) for those already unfortunate enough to have developed the disease.
The fat in peanut butter is positively good for you! Peanuts have a high content of monounsaturated fats which is known to lower the "bad" cholesterol and also polyunsaturated fats which helps raise the "good" cholesterol. It also has fairly high levels of dietary fibre and Vitamin E, Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and calcium and other interesting substances.
Potassium has been indicated to reduce the risk of hypertension (raised blood pressure). Raised blood-pressure also increases the risk of heart attack or strokes. Peanut butter contains a reasonable amount of potassium and a banana has more, so a peanut butter and banana sandwich could be a sensible option for those with hypertension.
Other studies have shown that women eating as little as one ounce of peanuts a week have a 20% lower risk of developing gall stones. Another published study showed that niacin which is contained in peanuts can provide protection against Alzheimers disease. Those getting 22mg niacin a day were 70% less likely to have developed than those getting only 13mg a day. However as there is only 13mg niacin in 100g peanut butter, it may not be sensible to rely on peanut butter as the only source. 150g peanut butter provides around 1,000 Kcals.
A study from the Harvard Medical School Group has shown that eating peanut butter daily helps stave off hunger and contributes to successful weight loss. Diets with a high level of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated oils have been show to be more beneficial than low fat diets.
Resveratrol is possibly the most interesting substance produced by the peanut plant and is also found in red grapes. This is the antimicrobial agent believed to be responsible for French people having a lower risk of cardiovascular disease despite having a diet that is high in fats and the reason why patients with cardiovascular problems in the UK are advise to drink a glass of red wine a day.
Peanut butter contains higher concentrations of antioxidants than apples and carrots and an unusual substance called p-coumaric acid which helps combat some neurodegenerative and cardiovascular deseases.
Make Peanut Butter part of your daily diet
So, if you are not allergic to peanuts there is a strong case for adding regular moderate amounts of peanut butter to your diet. About 30g a day is suggested. Although it could be called a superfood, it should be eaten as part of a healthy diet. There is no point in living solely off peanut butter sandwiches, burgers and chips, for example. You still need fresh vegetables and fruit and go easy on the saturated animal fats.
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