Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of those timeless go-to’s that everyone seems to love. Whether packed in school lunches or enjoyed as a midnight snack, the humble PB&J is beloved for its simplicity and convenience. But how exactly do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches affect our bodies? Is peanut butter really healthy for you? And better yet, how much PB&J is too much?
To help get some insight and some answers on just how healthy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are, we spoke to NYC-based registered dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. Here’s what happens to your body when you eat a PB&J.
And for more fun facts about the beloved spread, check out these 9 Things You Never Knew About Peanut Butter.
It provides your body with important vitamins and minerals
As it turns out, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches not only taste delicious but also supply the body with many important vitamins and minerals.
“The healthiest part of the PB&J sandwich is the peanut butter,” Rizzo says, “A natural peanut butter is made from just peanuts, which contain more than 30 vitamins and minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.”
It can help prevent heart disease
Besides providing many vitamins and minerals, nut butter sandwiches also help protect your body against many diseases, including heart disease. According to Harvard Health Medical Publishing, various studies have reflected that people who include nuts or peanut butter in their diets have less of a chance of developing heart disease compared to those who don’t eat nuts often.
It’s full of fiber and protein, which can keep you fuller longer
Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can also help put off hunger longer. “If you make your PB&J sandwich on whole-wheat bread, you’ll also get some added protein and fiber from the bread,” says Rizzo. “Those two nutrients together help with appetite control.” For example, a PB&J sandwich made using two tablespoons of Justin’s classic peanut butter, a tablespoon of Bonne Maman strawberry preserves, and two slices of Ezekiel bread has a whopping 17 grams of protein and seven grams of fiber.
High sugar in jelly can put you at a higher risk for disease
A downside to eating peanut butter and jelly is that because of the jelly, it has the potential to be full of harmful added sugar. “Most jelly is loaded with sugar,” says Rizzo. “For instance, a normal grape jelly has about 10 grams of added sugar in just one tablespoon, and most people use more than one tablespoon in their sandwich.”
Rizzo explains that the FDA Dietary Guidelines recommend having no more than 50 grams of added sugars per day, making 10 to 20 grams from one sandwich quite a bit. According to Healthline, eating too much sugar may be linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and depression.
To find a better pairing for your peanut butter, here are the 8 Best Strawberry Jam Brands, Ranked by Sugar Content.
How much PB&J is too much?
Like most things, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are best enjoyed in moderation. It’s also important to pay attention to how much peanut butter and jelly you’re using, as well as the quality of the ingredients.
Rizzo suggests sticking with one tablespoon of peanut butter, one-half to one tablespoon of jelly, and whole-wheat bread while preparing your sandwich. “Dave’s Killer Bread makes thin-sliced bread, which is smaller and lower in calories,” says Rizzo. “But it still has plenty of protein and fiber.”
She also says that if you want to make it even healthier you can either omit the jelly or make a homemade version, “This Blueberry Chia Jam is incredibly easy to make and has very little added sugar.”
For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.
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