"Smooth" peanut butter in a jar
Peanut butter is a food paste made primarily from ground dry roasted peanuts, popular in North America, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and parts of Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. It is mainly used as a sandwich spread, sometimes in combination with other spreads such as in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The United States and China are leading exporters of peanut butter. Other nuts are used as the basis for similar nut butters.
Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and were mashed to become a pasty substance by the Aztec Native Americans hundreds of years ago. A number of peanut paste products have been used over the centuries, and the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is not always clear in ordinary use. Early forms of peanut butter, like the Aztecs' version, were nothing but a paste made from roasted peanuts. Modern processing machines allow for very smooth products to be made, which often include vegetable oils to aid in its spreadability.
Evidence of peanut butter as it is known today comes from U.S. Patent 306,727, issued in 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the finished product of the process of milling roasted peanuts between heated surfaces until the peanuts entered "a fluid or semi-fluid state." As the peanut product cooled, it set into what Edson explained as being "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment". Edson's patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production the modern product we know as peanut butter; it does show the initial steps necessary for the production of peanut butter.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||2,462 kJ (588 kcal)|
|- Starch||4.8 g|
|- Sugars||9.2 g|
|- Dietary fiber||6 g|
|Sodium||0 mg (0%)|
|Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Peanut butter has a high level of monounsaturated fats and resveratrol. Peanut butter (and peanuts) provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, arginine, and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.
The peanut plant is susceptible to the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin. Since it is impossible to completely remove every instance of aflatoxins, contamination of peanuts and peanut butter is monitored in many countries to ensure safe levels of this carcinogen. In 1990, a study showed that average American peanut butter contained an average of 5.7 parts per billion of aflatoxins, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines of 20 parts per billion.
Some brands of peanut butter may contain a small amount of added partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in trans fatty acids that are thought to be a cause of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke; these oils are added to prevent the peanut oil from separating from the ground peanuts. Peanuts and natural peanut butter, i.e., ground, dry roasted peanuts without added oils, do not contain partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. A U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) survey of commercial peanut butters in the U.S. showed that trans fats were undetectable, i.e., below the detection limit of 0.01% of the sample weight. Some commercial peanut butters being advertised as "natural" have supplanted added partially or fully hydrogenated vegetable oils with palm oil, which provides the same benefit of emulsion. However, a 2006 study supported by the National Institutes of Health and the USDA Agricultural Research Service concluded that palm oil is not a safe substitute for partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) in the food industry, because palm oil results in adverse changes in the blood concentrations of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B just as trans fat does. A 2011 analysis of 23 countries showed that for each kilogram of palm oil added to the diet annually, there was an increase in ischemic heart disease deaths. The increase was much smaller in high-income countries.
A 1974 study found that peanut oil caused relatively heavy clogging of arteries in Rhesus monkeys. Robert Wissler of the University of Chicago reported that diets high in peanut oil combined with cholesterol intake clogged the arteries of Rhesus monkeys more than butterfat. However, subsequent work has cast serious doubt on those findings. Wissler's monkeys were being fed 20 times higher than normal dietary quantities of cholesterol in addition to peanut oil. When a similar 1988 study was performed without abnormal doses of cholesterol, no artery-clogging effect was seen. In fact, peanut oil has been found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol without reducing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Peanut butter can harbor Salmonella and cause salmonellosis, as in the Salmonella outbreak in the United States in 2007. In 2009, due to mishandling and apparent criminal negligence at a single Peanut Corporation of America factory in Blakely, Georgia, Salmonella was found in 46 states in peanut-butter-based products such as crackers, peanut-butter cookies, and dog treats. It had claimed at least nine human lives as of 17 March 2009[update] and made at least 691 people sick in the United States.
Peanut butter is included as an ingredient in many recipes, especially cookies and candies. Its flavor combines well with other flavors, such as chocolate, oatmeal, cheese, cured meats, savory sauces, and various types of breads and crackers.
In addition to jelly, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, peanut butter is said by some to combine well with pickles, mayonnaise, olives, onion, horseradish, chocolate chips, bacon, Marmite, or Vegemite in a sandwich. Elvis is said to have liked sandwiches made with peanut butter, banana and bacon while Hemingway is said to have liked thick onion slices in a peanut butter sandwich.
A flavorful, appealing snack for children is called "Ants on a Log"; a celery stick is the "log", and raisins arranged in a row along a base of peanut butter are the "ants".
Plumpy'nut is a peanut butter-based food used to fight malnutrition in famine stricken countries. A single pack contains 500 calories, can be stored unrefrigerated for 2 years, and requires no cooking or preparation.
By placing a medium amount of peanut butter inside the opening of a hollow sturdy chew toy, it is easy to create a toy that will keep a dog occupied for as long as an hour. Most dogs enjoy the challenge of reaching the peanut butter with their tongue and extracting it.
In Dutch peanut butter is called pindakaas (peanut cheese), because the name butter was protected in the Netherlands when peanut butter came on the market in 1948. The word kaas, cheese, was already being used in another product (leverkaas, Leberkäse) that has no cheese in it.
In the 1960s, collectible glasses related to characters from the Oz Books were sold as promotions with "Oz, the Wonderful Peanut Spread." The product was forced to rename itself a peanut butter when the USDA informed the company that, under food laws, a "peanut spread" has a lower peanut percentage than a "peanut butter."
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