Praise for Peanut Butter! Could life go on without peanut butter? Yes, but not as pleasurably. Not only is peanut butter a
nutrient-dense food, it is one that most children enjoy. Parents like its convenience. Two
tablespoons of peanut butter, the usual amount for filling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
8.5 grams of protein
4 milligrams of the B-vitamin niacin (one-third the RDA for a pre-teen child)
a touch of fiber, calcium, folic acid, zinc, and iron
all this in 200 calories that provide a high source of energy for a busy child.
Problems with Peanut ButterChildren who are allergic to peanuts are very allergic and, unlike
many other food allergies, this is one they usually don't outgrow. If your child is allergic to
peanut butter, be sure you warn the school (children share lunches) and other adults (such as
playmates' parents) who may be serving your child snacks. Some people are so allergic to
peanuts that even a whiff could trigger an asthmatic attack. This scare has recently prompted
some airlines to have "peanut-free zones" on their flights.
Beware of peanut butter hidden in candies and some Asian dishes. People who are allergic
to peanut butter (which is a legume and not, strictly speaking, a nut) can often tolerate other
nutbutters, such as almond and cashew. Try these alternatives carefully. Avoiding peanut
butter during pregnancy and lactation may lower the chances of your infant being sensitized
to peanut butter and later becoming allergic.
For safety's sake spread nutbutters on bread or crackers rather than allowing children to
wolf down a fingerful. Globs of peanut butter and other nutbutters can cause choking.
Be careful of a toxic mold called "aflatoxin" that can grow on rancid peanut butter or
spoiled peanuts. Peanut butter manufacturers are highly aware of this potentially toxic mold
and take strict manufacturing precautions to eliminate it. Commercially-available peanut
butters are safe. If you grind your own nuts into peanut butter, take care to use roasted nuts
that are fresh.
While the fat in peanut butter is about 80 percent unsaturated, hydrogenated oils may be
added to the peanut butter to increase the shelf life. If hydrogenated oil is added, it must be
listed on the label. You can tell whether or not peanut butter contains hydrogenated oil by
whether it separates when it sits on the shelf. When non-hydrogenated peanut butter sets, the
natural oils will rise to the top, and you have to stir the oil into the peanut butter after you
open it. If there is no oil floating on the top of the peanut butter when you open a new jar,
check the ingredient list. It probably contains hydrogenated oils.
While peanut butter is a favorite and nutritious family food, the peanut is not without its
PEANUT BUTTER TIP
Hold the jar upside down to help the oil settle throughout
the butter. This saves a lot of messy mixing.