I don’t remember my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I must have liked it since I’m still enjoying them.
My husband, another devotee, took a PBJ on whole wheat as his work lunch for at least 10 years and never tired of the taste. I had no problem with his PBJ habit, supplemented by cut-up veggies and a piece of fruit. His sandwich provided half the recommended manganese, biotin and copper and 100 percent of chromium for the day.
Peanut butter is much more than a source of vitamins and minerals. Research published this month in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that eating peanuts or peanut butter at breakfast can control blood sugar during the day, even after a high-carbohydrate lunch.
A second benefit is an increase in the hormone PYY that produces feelings of satiety and fullness. This explains findings of a reduced desire to eat for up to 12 hours after eating peanuts or peanut butter. Researchers hypothesize that it’s the protein, fiber and healthy fat in peanuts that produces both blood-glucose control and satiety.
I hope the growing body of evidence demonstrating the health benefits of peanuts and tree nuts will stop the knee-jerk response, “What about the fat in nuts?” My usual reply is, “Yes, isn’t that great that they are so high in healthy fats?”
If you like more variety than my husband, enjoy a peanut butter sandwich with sliced apples, pears or bananas. Dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or apricots also pair well with peanut butter. All these choices add more nutrients than jelly or fruit spread.
Adding peanut butter to a morning smoothie or oatmeal is a tasty way to get the peanut boost. And peanut butter sandwiches, which do not need refrigeration, are one of the best travel foods around.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.