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6 Surprising Ways a Few Tablespoons of Peanut Butter Can Make You Healthier

Plus, 4 easy strategies for adding it to your diet

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    En español | Peanut butter is not just for kids. Adults, too, can reap health benefits from adding it to their diet. Granted, it’s not exactly low in calories, but we’re only talking about a few tablespoonfuls in exchange for a pile of nutrients: protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, bone-building magnesium, and potassium, a mineral important for blood pressure and heart function. For the healthiest choice, pick peanut butter without added sugar, salt or hydrogenated oil.

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    Control Your Cravings

    Eating 3 tablespoons of peanut butter (or 1½ ounces of peanuts) at breakfast helped overweight women feel fuller and have fewer hunger cravings, a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed. Not only did the women report feeling satiated eight to 12 hours after breakfast, but the peanut butter helped keep their blood sugar levels steady in the afternoon.

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    Protect Your Heart

    Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes compared to those who rarely eat nuts, says Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. PB also is a good source of potassium — a mineral crucial to heart function.

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    Good for Your Glucose

    Two ounces of nuts (or peanut butter) a day improved both glucose levels and blood fats in those with type 2 diabetes, researchers at the University of Toronto found. Aim for natural peanut butter, which has less sugar. Some PB spreads, including reduced-fat versions, have high amounts of added sugar.

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    Build Your Muscles

    We lose muscle mass as we age, which is why older adults need to be sure they get enough muscle-building protein in their diets. In 2015, researchers found that while animal protein helps maintain lean muscle mass throughout the body, those who ate the most plant protein — like that found in peanut butter and nuts — had the strongest thigh muscles, which are important for balance.

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    Help You Live Longer

    Eating more peanuts or peanut butter — roughly 2 tablespoons of either daily — is linked with 20 percent fewer early deaths from all causes, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that looked at the diets of more than 200,000 people in the U.S. and China. Researchers think it may be because peanuts are rich in heart-healthy nutrients.

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    Great for Your Granddaughters

    Girls ages 9 to 15 who ate peanut butter and nuts twice a week were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease — lumps, cysts and tender spots — by the age of 30, according to a recent study from Washington University Medical School in St. Louis and Harvard Medical School. More importantly, girls with a family history of breast cancer had a significantly lower risk if they consumed these foods, researchers said. Benign breast disease, although noncancerous, increases the risk of breast cancer later in life.

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    Here’s How to Add It to Your Diet

    1. Swirl a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter into your morning oatmeal.
    2. Make a peanut butter smoothie with PB, bananas, milk or yogurt, a little honey and ice. Blend until smooth.
    3. Pack a midmorning snack of apple slices and peanut butter.
    4. Try a slice of whole-grain bread slathered with peanut butter.

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