The Peanut Butter Solution

There is more fat in a peanut butter sandwich than in a McDonald’s cheeseburger; there are about 21 to 27 grams per 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. But peanut butter is no dietary evil.

Most of peanut butter’s fat is monounsaturated, and it also provides a good source of protein, vitamin E, and fiber. So don’t pass on this childhood treat. (And don’t think you’re saving calories if you go for the low-fat version; the fat is just replaced with sugar.) Just make sure peanut butter is replacing other forms of fat and calories, not adding to them. You can also try other nut butters, like almond, cashew, and macadamia. They usually have a lower percentage of saturated fat than peanut butter.

To enjoy peanut butter wisely, follow these tips:

Take a lick. Take a teaspoon of peanut butter and slowly lick it off the spoon as if it were a lollipop while you watch TV or relax.

Spread it thinly. Use it in place of cream cheese on bagels or butter on toast.

Go natural. To avoid the added salt and sugar in commercial peanut butters, as well as the hydrogenated oils most contain, visit a health food store that lets you make your own, or buy a “natural” brand. Because they contain no hydrogenated oils, these brands will separate, so you’ll need to stir them before eating.

Dip in. Peanut butter makes a good dip for apples, celery, carrots, or other fruits and vegetables. Again, limit the portion or you could find yourself eating an entire week’s worth of fat calories in one sitting.

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