Light and regular peanut butter are two popular peanut butter variants in the market. You can easily notice the reduced peanut flavor in light peanut butter, but what really makes light peanut butter light?
Light peanut butter is considered light because it has a relatively lower fat content than regular peanut butter. Light peanut butter contains four grams (14 oz) less fat for each two-tablespoon (28.3-gram or one-ounce) serving.
Is light peanut butter healthier than regular peanut butter because of its lower fat content? Let’s find out.
Is Light Peanut Butter Healthier?
Because less fat means fewer calories, you might be inclined to think that light peanut butter is a healthier option. You might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the case.
Light peanut butter isn’t necessarily healthier than regular peanut butter. It has less monounsaturated fat, contains more sugar and salt, has more calories, and has more hydrogenated oils than regular peanut butter. All of these things mean that light peanut butter is actually not all that healthy.
Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
Light Peanut Butter Has Less Monounsaturated Fat
Peanut is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is essentially a heart-healthy fat. So having less of it isn’t such a good idea. Monounsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol in the body.
LDL cholesterol, popularly known as bad cholesterol, stands for low-density lipoprotein and is a risk factor for coronary heart diseases. High LDL cholesterol levels increase cholesterol accumulation in your arteries.
Conversely, HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol, stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL does not build up cholesterol in the arteries like LDL cholesterol; instead, HDL transfers cholesterol from other parts of your body to your liver, where it can be excreted.
Monounsaturated fats also contain nutrients that help your body’s cells develop and stay healthy. In addition, monounsaturated fat oils are a source of vitamin E, an essential antioxidant.
Light Peanut Butter Contains More Sugar and Salt
According to Eating Well, sugar, sodium, and corn syrup replace the reduced fat in light peanut butter. A teaspoon (14.3 grams) of natural peanut butter contains one gram (0.04 oz) of sugar and 105 mg (0.004 oz) of sodium.
The levels of these ingredients are much higher in light peanut butter with four grams (0.14 oz) of sugar and 220 mg (0.008 oz) of sodium.
Light peanut butter is therefore not healthy for diabetic and hypertensive patients. The natural peanut butter variation is a healthier option.
Light Peanut Butter Contains More Calories
A teaspoon (5.7 g) of light peanut butter contains 15 g (0.5 oz) of carbohydrates against six g (0.2 oz) in natural peanut butter. Therefore, consuming light peanut butter doesn’t necessarily lower your caloric intake. On the contrary, it increases it.
Light peanut butter may also not be healthy for diabetic patients. However, light peanut butter may be a perfect dietary addition for people who want to add weight, including those recuperating from illness.
Light Peanut Butter Contains More Hydrogenated Oils
A natural consequence of reduced peanut content in light peanut butter is less peanut flavor. Hydrogenated oils are usually added to compensate for this reduction in flavor.
Hydrogenated oils have some benefits. They improve the taste and texture of foods. They’re also less prone to oxidation, increasing the shelf-life of food.
However, consuming too many hydrogenated oils can be detrimental to your health. They contain trans fats, which are not suitable for your heart. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol levels and reduce good cholesterol.
Health Benefits of Light Peanut Butter
Light peanut butter may contain relatively fewer peanuts than its natural counterpart. However, it’s still a good source of monounsaturated fats, vitamins (e.g., niacin and folate), and minerals (such as sodium and magnesium).
Monounsaturated fat has been discussed earlier in this piece. Let’s see what the other ingredients offer.
Niacin, often known as Vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient that helps your body convert food into energy. According to Mayo Clinic, niacin’s RDA for adult females and males is 14 and 16 mg (0.0005 oz and 0.0006 oz) respectively.
Niacin also aids in the reduction of bad cholesterol while boosting good cholesterol levels. It’s sometimes prescribed as a cholesterol-lowering medication.
Folate, often known as Vitamin B9, is another essential vitamin that helps the body function properly. For starters, it aids in the synthesis of red blood cells. It also aids in the breakdown of the amino acid homocysteine. Homocysteine levels beyond a certain threshold can be hazardous to one’s health.
In addition, folate is required for protein metabolism and the synthesis of nucleic acids. Although folate is found in many foods, it is also accessible as a supplement in the form of folic acid.
Magnesium is one of the seven macrominerals required for human health. Magnesium is necessary for a variety of biological processes. It can also aid in preventing or treating chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Magnesium insufficiency can cause a variety of health problems. Possible early manifestations of magnesium deficiency are:
- Loss of appetite
Your body’s cells require potassium to operate optimally. Potassium regulates fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Potassium supplementation may lower the risk of disorders such as:
- Kidney stones
The daily recommended potassium intake is at least 3,500 mg (0.12 oz). Potassium is present in many foods. Thus most people will meet this requirement.
Light or Regular Peanut Butter: Choosing the One That’s Right for You
Both varieties are good sources of monounsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals. You can consume anyone you fancy. However, caution is necessary for people with specific health challenges.
Light peanut butter contains more sugar and salt and is not recommended for diabetic or hypertensive patients.
Also, consumption of light peanut butter should be in moderation due to the potential health risks of a high intake of hydrogenated oils.
Finally, Regardless of health challenges, light peanut butter may not be healthy for older people.
Light peanut butter is a low-fat version of regular peanut butter. Salt, sugar, and hydrogenated oils are among the other ingredients.
Monounsaturated fats aid in the reduction of bad (LDL) cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. Natural peanut butter is a healthier option than light peanut butter since it contains more monounsaturated fats.
However, light peanut butter still contains essential vitamins and minerals like folate and niacin, as well as sodium and magnesium, that perform crucial roles in the body.