Peanut butter isn't just kids' stuff, says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Maine's department of food science and human nutrition.
In addition to the protein a spoonful delivers, PB packs vitamin E and cholesterol-regulating monounsaturated fats, and "might even help curb your appetite," says Camire. Here's how to make the most of it, with or without jelly.
It may reduce your risk of coronary death People who eat nuts or peanuts four times a week may lower their risk of dying of coronary heart disease by 37 percent, compared with people who seldom or never eat nuts, according to a review in the British Journal of Nutrition. Eating peanut butter may lower bad LDL cholesterol while maintaining good HDL cholesterol, the authors say. It may help prevent Alzheimer's disease Adding 22 milligrams (mg) of niacin to your daily diet may decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer's. A tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 2 mg. In a study, those who consumed 22 mg daily of this B vitamin had a 44 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's compared with those who consumed 13 mg, say researchers from Rush University Medical Center.
It's rich in antioxidants Roasted peanuts contain about 22 percent more antioxidants than the uncooked variety and about the same amount of cell-protecting substances as strawberries, according to researchers at the University of Florida. It may help you stay slim If you eat nuts at least twice a week, you're about 30 percent less likely to gain weight than someone who never or rarely eats nuts, according to a study in the journal Obesity. Best of the Best Forget Jif. We tested more than 50 varieties for nutrition, texture, and taste.
Best Organic: Once Again American Classic Creamy Many organic and natural peanut butters vacuum moisture from your mouth. Once Again's variety delivers a rich, mellow texture that doesn't hang your tongue out to dry.
Per 2 Tbsp: 190 calories, 7 grams (g) protein, 15 g total fat
Try it on: your next burger. Slather it on a grilled patty and top with spinach and red onion for a double-fisted dose of protein.
Best Smooth: Teddie Old Fashioned All Natural Smooth This was one of our taste testers' favorites across all categories. Teddie has a deep, nutty flavor and spreads evenly and easily. Better yet, it offers a solid nutritional profile.
Per 2 Tbsp: 190 calories, 8 g protein, 16 g total fatTry it on: a grilled steak. Mix 1/2 cup with minced ginger, the juice of a lime, a can of coconut milk, and a teaspoon of hot sauce for an Asian BBQ sauce. teddie.com (for distributors)
Best Crunchy: Sunland Valencia Peanut Butter Crunchy Sunland's stuff is made exclusively with Valencia peanuts, which aren't imported--they come only from Texas and New Mexico.
Per 2 Tbsp: 200 calories, 9 g protein, 15 g total fatTry it on: celery. Spoon a dollop into a bowl and top with golden raisins. Dunk sticks for a La-Z-Boy snack that satisfies a craving for something sweet and crunchy.
Best sweet: P.B.Loco Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough The combination sounds like a gut bomb, but it's actually a healthy alternative that satisfies your cravings without subjecting you to a sugar rush.
Per 2 Tbsp: 190 calories, 6 g protein, 15 g total fat Try it on: ice cream.
Nuke peanut butter in a glass bowl at 30-second intervals, stirring until the peanut butter drizzles from your spoon. It's better than a sugar slick of chocolate syrup.
Best spicy: Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat Is On This spread contains chili powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red peppers, and paprika.
Per 2 Tbsp: 190 calories, 8 g protein, 16 g total fatTry it on: chicken satay.