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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Get a Little Nutty: Peanut Butter and Your Healthy Heart

Natural Peanut Butter
When it comes to heart healthy eating, it’s easy to get discouraged and to fall into the rut of believing that anything that tastes good must be bad for you. Of course that is not true, as almost anyone who has tried a Mediterranean way of eating can attest. But sometimes we long for good old simple, all-American food. While you won’t get anywhere with me by pleading the case for hot dogs and apple pie (unless we’re talking tofu dogs and crustless pie), peanut butter is as down-home as it gets, and it turns out to be good for you, too.

Peanuts are technically not nuts, but legumes, in the same family as beans.  While both peanuts and nuts are high in fat, most of that is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which is much more heart friendly than saturated fat. They are also chock full of protein, fiber, minerals, and a host of antioxidants.

Numerous studies of nuts and peanuts have confirmed their heart healthy benefits. One of the most recent large-scale studies was published in 2009 by Dr. Tricia Li and her associates at the Harvard School of Public Health. In this study, over 6000 diabetic women were evaluated and monitored for over 20 years. Those women who ate at least five servings of nuts or peanut butter every week had nearly half the likelihood of suffering a heart attack or stroke when compared to those who did not eat nuts. A serving was defined as an ounce of nuts or a tablespoon of peanut butter.

I love a peanut butter sandwich made with whole wheat bread and a little bit of low-sugar jam. It’s super easy to throw together in the morning, and it’s pretty hard to mess it up. Choose a natural style peanut butter, made without extra oils or fats. I like to use the self-serve peanut butter grinder at the grocery store. If that is not available, choose a natural style peanut butter off the shelf. Since the natural oil is usually separated from the solids, it will probably need stirring (we use the stirrer made by the Wittmer company for mess-free mixing). Once it’s stirred up, store your peanut butter in the fridge and it will stay perfectly mixed. Happy eating!

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.