Are Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches Good For You? What The Experts Say

When you came inside after playing with fellow kids in your neighborhood, you smiled when you saw your favorite sandwich waiting for you on the table. This simple combination of peanut butter, jelly, and bread was conceived in 1901 by Julia Davis Chandler (via USA Today). Now you can stock frozen Uncrustables in your bag for a quick snack or make an adult version using gourmet nut butter and fruit preserves.

If you put two slices of white bread, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and two tablespoons of jelly together, you have a pretty solid meal of 442 calories, 12 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber. Although peanut butter gives you some healthy protein and healthy fat, the jelly has 20 grams of sugar. Additionally, white bread isn't the healthiest choice for bread because the fiber, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium are stripped out during processing (via WebMD). You can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich good for you if you choose healthier ingredients.

Choose whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter

Contrary to low-carb and keto dieters, we could all use more whole grains in our diet to help lower our cholesterol and insulin levels while making us feel full (via Mayo Clinic). Adding whole-grain bread to your PB&J can give you twice the fiber and almost twice the protein of white bread with the same number of calories. When buying bread, be sure "whole grain" is listed first in the bread's ingredients.

Peanut butter provides healthy unsaturated fats that help reduce cholesterol, control inflammation, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (via Harvard School of Public Health). Natural peanut butter needs to be stirred, but it tends to have fewer ingredients than your standard peanut butter. If you're not a fan of natural peanut butter, check the ingredients of your favorite peanut butter. You should avoid hydrogenated oil, palm oil, coconut oil, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, according to Unity Point Health. You could also jazz up your sandwich by swapping the peanut butter for other types of butter, such as almond or sunflower butter.

Be choosy about your jelly

Jelly can be tricky because it's mostly fruit juice. Jam has some fruit juice, but it also has some of the pulp from the fruit. What makes your PB&J sweet also makes it high in sugar, so look for some that have no added sugar. Rather than stating sugar on the ingredient label, sometimes ingredient labels will use sucrose, dextrose, and fructose, which are other names for sugar (via Healthline). Jelly, jam, and fruit preserves have pectin added to them to help thicken their consistency. Pectin can improve your gut health, lower the risk of colon cancer, and help manage your weight, according to MedicineNet. USA Today suggests swapping jelly for whole fruit, such as a banana.

You can add a few other ingredients to make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich a little healthier. Healthline suggests adding flaxseeds or chia seeds to add a little more crunch while boosting the fiber, protein, and healthy fat in your sandwich. Adding celery sticks with a side of hummus can also make it a healthier lunch.