Dr. Dean

Peanut Butter, Good or Bad?

Posting Date: 10/01/2003

Dr. Dean's Comments: Once upon a time peanut butter was good. Than the food police declared it was bad...too much fat, too many calories, and dangerous fatty acids. Well times have changed. It seems that adding nuts to your diet will decrease heart disease in spite of the extra calories. Who figured?


Processes used for making commercial peanut butter do not negatively influence levels of healthful vitamin E in peanuts according to a new study, confirming that peanut butter can be as beneficial to the diet as nuts in protecting against coronary heart disease. Results are published in the latest issue of Journal of Food Science, a peer-reviewed, scientific journal published by the international, not-for-profit Institute of Food Technologists.

IFT members, including researchers from the University of Georgia and Chungbuk National University in Korea, tested raw peanuts, roasted peanuts and peanut butter originating from crops harvested in two separate years. What they discovered was peanut butter is equivalent to raw peanuts in vitamin E content. Vitamin E loss during roasting and milling was fully compensated by the addition of stabilizers and other ingredients ordinarily added to peanut butter during manufacturing.

?There was a lack of information in existing data on vitamin E content in peanut butter,? said Ron Eitenmiller, Ph.D., professor at University of Georgia. ?But we?d run so many studies on peanuts and peanut butters in the past, we had our suspicions? that vitamin E content would remain high in the finished product, he said. He and his research team credits peanut butter?s oil base and container as good barriers against oxygen, which reduces vitamin E content.

The researchers note studies linking nuts such as peanuts to beneficial effects on the heart, possibly by replacing harmful lipids with unsaturated lipids, and supplying healthful micronutrients like vitamin E to the blood. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture rank peanut butter among the top ten sources of vitamin E intake in the American diet.

Founded in 1939, and with world headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 28,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food issues. For more on IFT, see