Peanut butter is a popular spread made from ground, dry-roasted peanuts. It’s a staple ingredient in many people’s pantries and can be used in sandwiches, baked goods, smoothies, and more. But since peanut butter is high in fat, some people wonder exactly how much fat is in a typical serving size. Let’s take a closer look at the fat content of peanut butter below.
Calories and Fat in Peanut Butter
The calorie and fat content of peanut butter can vary slightly depending on the brand, ingredients, and preparation method. But generally speaking, here is the nutrition information for a standard serving of 2 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of regular, smooth peanut butter:
- Calories: 188
- Total fat: 16 grams
- Saturated fat: 2.5 grams
- Unsaturated fat: 11 grams
As you can see, nearly all the calories and fat in peanut butter come from the high fat content. The predominant type of fat in peanut butter is unsaturated fat, specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are considered the “healthy” fats. There is also a small amount saturated fat.
Calculating Fat in 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
Now let’s calculate how much fat is in 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Since there are 16 grams of total fat in 2 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of peanut butter, we can use some simple math to determine the fat content of a 1/2 cup serving:
- 1/4 cup peanut butter = 16 grams fat
- There are 4 quarter cups (16 tablespoons) in 1 cup
- So there are 32 grams fat in 1/2 cup peanut butter (16 grams x 2)
In other words, a 1/2 cup serving of peanut butter contains approximately 32 grams of total fat.
Daily Recommended Fat Intake
To put the 32 grams of fat per 1/2 cup of peanut butter into context, let’s see how it compares to the recommended daily intake for fat:
- According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended limit for total fat intake is between 25-35% of total calories.
- For a 2000 calorie diet, this equates to about 56-78 grams of fat per day.
Since a 1/2 cup of peanut butter contains 32 grams of fat, it provides a significant portion of the average person’s recommended daily fat intake. Consuming 1/2 cup of peanut butter would use over half of the daily fat allowance on a 2000 calorie diet.
Ways to Reduce Fat When Eating Peanut Butter
Because peanut butter is high in fat, it’s wise to be mindful of portion sizes when eating it. Here are some tips to reduce your fat intake from peanut butter:
- Measure servings carefully using a tablespoon. Don’t estimate.
- Stick to the standard 2 tablespoon (1/4 cup) serving size.
- Spread peanut butter thinly instead of globbing it on thick.
- Consider diluting peanut butter with a little water or milk to make it spread further.
- Look for reduced-fat or light peanut butter options.
- Substitute peanut butter for other protein sources like lean meats, eggs, beans, etc. in some meals.
Using peanut butter in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet is perfectly fine for most people. Just be aware of portion sizes to avoid excessive fat intake.
How Peanut Butter Compares to Other Nut Butters
Peanut butter is not the only nut butter option out there. How does it compare nutritionally to other nut and seed butters? Here is a look at the nutrition stats for 2 tablespoons of some popular nut butters:
|Sunflower seed butter
As you can see, most nut and seed butters have a similar amount of calories and fat per serving compared to peanut butter. So peanut butter is not unusual in its fat content. However, reduced fat versions of nut butters may have closer to 8-12 grams of fat per serving.
To summarize the key points:
- There are 32 grams of total fat in 1/2 cup of peanut butter.
- This is over half the recommended daily limit for fat on a 2000 calorie diet.
- Stick to standard 2 tablespoon servings and thin spreads to reduce fat intake from peanut butter.
- Peanut butter is comparable in calories and fat to many other nut butters.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Despite being high in fat and calories, peanut butter can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Here are some of the potential health benefits of peanut butter:
- Protein – Peanut butter contains high-quality plant-based protein to help build muscle and repair cells.
- Fiber – The fiber in peanut butter helps promote fullness and digestive health.
- Vitamins and minerals – Peanut butter provides small amounts of various vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and more.
- Antioxidants – It contains antioxidants like resveratrol to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Healthy fats – The mono- and polyunsaturated fats in peanut butter are healthier than saturated fats.
Research also shows that eating peanuts and peanut butter may benefit heart health in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.
Potential Downsides of Peanut Butter
Despite the potential benefits, eating too much peanut butter can also have downsides:
- High in calories – Peanut butter is very energy dense, with nearly 200 calories in just 2 tablespoons.
- Easy to overeat – The rich, creamy texture makes peanut butter hard to resist overindulging in.
- Allergies – Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies, sometimes severe.
- Aflatoxins – Peanuts may be contaminated with aflatoxins, carcinogenic mold toxins.
People with weight concerns or allergies need to be particularly mindful of portion sizes and ingredient labels when consuming peanut butter.
How to Store Peanut Butter
To get the most shelf life and optimal flavor out of natural peanut butter, it’s best to store it properly. Here are some peanut butter storage tips:
- Keep peanut butter in a cool, dry pantry away from heat or sunlight.
- An unopened jar can be stored in the pantry up to 3 months past the “best by” date.
- Once opened, refrigerate peanut butter to prevent oil separation.
- Use refrigerated peanut butter within 3-4 months for best quality.
- Don’t freeze peanut butter, as this can negatively impact texture.
- Store peanut butter upside down if oil separation occurs – this helps remix the oils.
- Look for signs of spoilage like rancid smell, mold, or very dark color before eating.
With proper storage methods, natural peanut butter can retain its flavor and shelf life well past the “best by” date printed on the jar.
How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter
Making your own homemade peanut butter is easy with just peanuts and a food processor. Here is a simple recipe and instructions:
- 2 cups dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or agave (optional)
- Add the peanuts to a food processor.
- Process for 2-3 minutes until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Continue processing 5-7 minutes more until smooth and creamy.
- Add optional salt and/or sweetener if desired and pulse briefly to mix in.
- Store homemade peanut butter in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 3-4 weeks.
Adjust the processing time for chunky or smooth peanut butter as desired. Simple, fresh peanut butter with just one or two ingredients.
How to Make Peanut Butter Healthier
If you want to lighten up peanut butter a bit, there are easy ways to make it healthier without losing all the flavor. Try these peanut butter health hacks:
- Use powdered peanut butter – Removes most fat for fewer calories.
- Try reduced-fat versions – Cuts calories and fat significantly.
- Mix in flax or chia seeds – Adds nutrition and healthy fats.
- Stir in cocoa powder – Provides flavor and antioxidants.
- Blend with yogurt or oats – Improves creaminess and protein content.
- Sweeten with honey, maple syrup, or fruit – Healthier than white sugar.
- Spread on fruits or veggies – Sneaks in extra nutrients and fiber.
With creative substitutions and combinations, you can still enjoy the flavor of peanut butter as part of an overall balanced diet.
Popular Peanut Butter Brands
With so many options lining grocery store shelves, which brand of peanut butter is best? Here is a comparison of some top peanut butter brands:
- Smooth, homogenized texture
- Lots of added sugars and hydrogenated oils
- 190 calories and 16g fat per serving
- Contains peanuts and ~2% or less of: fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar, molasses, etc.
- Classic creamy American-style peanut butter
- Added sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils
- 190 calories and 16g fat per serving
- Contains roasted peanuts and sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, etc.
- Smooth, creamy texture
- 190 calories and 16g fat per serving
- Ingredients are roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, etc.
- Includes added sweeteners and artificial trans fats
- Organic peanut butter blend
- 190 calories and 16g fat per serving
- Contains dry roasted organic peanuts and palm fruit oil
- No hydrogenated oils, gluten, or added sugar
There are pros and cons to each brand, but nutritionally speaking, natural peanut butter with minimal added oils and sugars is best. Major brands like Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan contain more processed ingredients.
How to Use Peanut Butter in Recipes
Peanut butter is very versatile in recipes thanks to its creamy texture and nutty flavor. Here are some delicious ways to cook and bake with peanut butter:
- Peanut butter cookies – Add peanut butter to the cookie dough for classic PB cookies.
- Peanut butter fudge – Melted into chocolate fudge peanut butter swirl fudge.
- Peanut butter cups – Combine melted chocolate and peanut butter to make DIY Reese’s cups.
- Peanut butter smoothie – Blend peanut butter into smoothies for extra protein and healthy fats.
- Peanut sauce – Whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and spices for stir fries or noodles.
- Peanut butter hummus – Purée peanut butter, chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and garlic for a protein-packed dip.
- Peanut butter energy balls – Mix peanut butter with oats, honey, and cocoa to make no-bake energy bites.
Let your imagination run wild with ways to incorporate peanut butter into meals, snacks, and desserts!
Is Peanut Butter Good for Dogs?
Many dog owners wonder if it’s safe and healthy to share peanut butter with their canine companions. Here’s a look at how peanut butter affects dogs:
- Most peanut butter contains no toxins harmful to dogs and is safe in small amounts.
- Avoid peanut butter with xylitol or other artificial sweeteners, which can be toxic to dogs.
- Peanut butter is high in fat and calories, so only feed in moderation/occasionally.
- Make sure the peanut butter is smoothly blended so it won’t present a choking hazard.
- Peanut butter can be an enjoyable treat for dogs or mixed into their food for extra protein and healthy fats.
- Only give dogs plain, unsweetened peanut butter. Avoid added sugars, flavors and seasonings.
- Talk to your vet about the appropriateness of peanut butter for your dog’s unique health status and diet.
Overall, peanut butter is generally fine for dogs in small doses as the occasional treat. But it’s best reserved for special occasions rather than everyday feeding.
Peanut Butter During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Is peanut butter safe to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Here are some key considerations:
- Peanut butter is perfectly fine for pregnant and nursing women if they are not allergic to peanuts.
- It provides extra protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats important for mother and baby.
- The only real risk is weight gain if too much peanut butter is consumed, so mind portions.
- Eat only fresh, unexpired peanut butter and thoroughly cook any peanut-based dishes to avoid any potential toxins.
- If your breastfed baby has colic, eliminate peanut butter for a time to see if that helps.
- Always consult your doctor about specific diet recommendations during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Overall, peanut butter can be safely enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet for a pregnant or breastfeeding woman. It provides great nutritional benefits for mom and baby.
Peanut butter is a tasty pantry staple loved by many for its indulgent, nutty flavor. While high in fat and calories, peanut butter can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation and balanced with other nutrient-dense foods. Stick to a 1-2 tablespoon serving size, opt for natural peanut butter when possible, and use peanut butter to add flavor and nutrition to meals and snacks in creative ways.