Is Peanut Butter and Jelly Good For You?

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an easy snack any time of the day. It is so popular that many people eat it at work and for many mothers it is the perfect packed snack for their school-going kids. And why not! It’s easy to prepare: two tablespoons of peanut butter, one teaspoon of jelly and two slices of bread. But is peanut butter and jelly good for you? Can you make it healthier and more nutritious? Read on to discover the truth.

Is a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Good for You?

While PB&J is not necessarily your healthiest meal, it has its good points. Let’s look at the pros and cons of eating it.

1.  Benefits

When eaten in moderation, peanut butter has many health benefits. The soluble fiber in peanut butter helps maintain good cholesterol and blood sugar levels, while the antioxidant monounsaturated fats and vitamin E help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Peanut butter is also packed full of calories that make it a good source of energy. Iron is among the materials that make up red blood cells, and all the other nutrients such as minerals benefit the body in different ways.

The answer to "is peanut butter and jelly good for you?" also depends on jelly. What is it made of? Fruits. Most fruits are rich in vitamins, fiber, folic acid, and minerals such as potassium. Fruits are also low in fat, unhealthy sugars, calories and cholesterol. The health benefits associated with these properties, including stress reduction, weight management and energy boost, accrue if you use jelly made from the right fruits. For example, strawberry jelly improves eye health, besides its anti-inflammatory properties keeping bones, joints and skin healthy. And grape jelly provides cancer-preventing antioxidants. 

PB&J is incomplete without the bread. Bread provides you with energy, fiber, protein and minerals, which all benefit your body.

2.  Drawbacks        

Every good thing has its less pleasant side, and PB&J is no exception. As with other foods, moderation is the catchword. With too many sandwiches, and you will get too much of the good fat from peanut butter. And this is bad because the body has to change it into stored fat that adds weight to your body. The sandwiches will also give you excess sugar from the jelly and broken-down bread. This will make it hard for your body to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, leading to elevated heart rate, dizziness and even passing out. 

Is peanut butter and jelly good for you? Yes and no. The secret is to take it in moderation.

The Nutrition Facts of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

A typical PB&J sandwich contains:

  • 376 calories
  • 13 grams protein
  • 3.5 grams of fiber
  • 16 grams total sugar
  • 18 grams fat

The amount of sugar present is substantial considering that the recommended daily intake by the American Heart Association is 36 grams for men, 20 grams for women and 12 grams for children.

18 grams of fat present in one PB&J constitutes a substantial contribution towards your daily calorie intake. According to the American Heart Association, only 25-35 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from fat. Assuming a 2,000-calorie daily diet, the fat in one PB&J sandwich will contribute to 23-32 percent of the total recommended calorie intake. Some good news here is that 80 percent of the fat from the sandwich is unsaturated and it is free from cholesterol.  

One PB&J sandwich provides the following percentages of recommended daily intake.

  • 20 percent of vitamin E
  • 42 percent of niacin
  • 27 percent of folate
  • 14 percent of calcium
  • 14 percent of magnesium
  • 30 percent of iron and 12 percent of zinc – for men
  • 13 percent of iron and 17 percent of zinc – for women
  • 27 percent of sodium

It is important to take into account these figures to ensure that in eating PB&J on its own or in addition to other foods, you don’t exceed your daily recommended consumption.

How to Make a Healthier Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Is peanut butter and jelly good for you? Yes, if it is eaten in moderation. But you can make it healthier with the following methods.

1.  Opt for Healthier Bread

Whole grain bread is your best choice. It adds more fiber and B-complex vitamins and has lower GI (glycemic index) that helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Whole grain bread also keeps you feeling full for longer so that you don’t pack on more weight from snacking.

2.  Switch to No Added Sugar Version, Jam or Fruit Spread

Ordinary jelly contains high amounts of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sugar, which can be detrimental to one’s health. Opting for no added sugar, jam or fruit spread, you will benefit by eating more natural food as well as some of the vitamins in the fruits.

3.  Get a Healthier Peanut Butter

Look out for truly natural peanut butter without additives. If you can find a health food store where they make the peanut butter from fresh peanuts, it is so much better. If not, find a brand that has no added fats. Read the label and go for lower sodium, and zero added sugar peanut butter. You can also try another natural butter such as almond butter.

4.  Lower Calories

You can lower the calories in your sandwich by using thinner slices, spreading a thinner layer of peanut butter, using a smaller portion of bread.

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