Eating Peanut Butter Every Day Could Reduce Your Risk Of This Common Disease

Whether you are diagnosed with diabetes depends on several risk factors. Your family history, age, weight, activity levels, and even race have something to do with it. 

What you eat and don't eat has a role to play too, and it turns out the popular breakfast food we all love — peanut butter — can actually help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, peanut butter has long been on the list of diabetic-friendly foods, mainly owing to its low glycemic index. 

Glycemic index or GI refers to how quickly your body turns carbohydrates into sugar as fuel for your body. Foods that digest slowly are lower on the scale of 0-100 and foods that digest faster and cause a resulting spike in blood sugar levels are considered higher up on the scale. Peanuts have a glycemic index of 14 which makes them one of the lowest GI foods out there. This is probably why your doctor recommended that it's okay for you to moderately consume peanut butter if you have type 2 diabetes. Even if you don't have diabetes, consuming two tablespoons of peanut butter with white bread and apple juice was linked with significantly lower levels of blood glucose spikes when compared with eating the bread and juice alone, per a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. An older 2002 study in JAMA had similar results. What else happens to your body when you eat peanut butter every day?

Other ways in which peanut butter can help prevent diabetes

Peanut butter is also a good source of magnesium. Two tablespoons of smooth, salt-free peanut butter have 53.8 milligrams of magnesium. Science has found that consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium along with fiber can help protect people from developing type 2 diabetes by boosting insulin sensitivity (how responsive your cells are to insulin), lowering levels of oxidative stress, and curbing systemic inflammation (per World Journal of Diabetes). In fact, magnesium deficiency is a common concern in people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. 

Other ways in which eating peanut butter every day can help with diabetes risk have to do with associated health concerns that increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes — specifically obesity and heart disease. Obesity is a common risk factor for type 2 diabetes and consuming peanut butter regularly has been linked with helping people feel full for longer, mainly owing to its rich content of fiber, healthy fats, and protein. When you feel full for longer, especially after eating peanut butter for breakfast or as a snack, you're less likely to overeat at your main meals. Your cardiovascular health is also closely tied to type 2 diabetes. We often hear of how having diabetes can put you at risk of heart disease and while that is true, heart failure, characterized by your heart not pumping sufficient blood oxygen to all parts of your body, is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes too. Consuming peanut butter, which is rich in healthy fats, is linked with lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL). 

How to consume peanut butter to prevent diabetes

Despite its many beneficial nutrients, however, eating too much peanut butter can reverse the benefits and even harm your health. There are reasons for this. 

A lot of the brands of peanut butter out there — whether they're crunchy, creamy, or smooth — have added sugars, salt, and other preservatives in them. A diet high in sugar isn't recommended if you're trying to stave off diabetes or if you already have this common disease and you're watching your blood sugar levels. Low-sugar or no-added-sugar brands and brands with just peanut butter and some salt are a good way to go. The fatty acids are a concern too. Peanut butter contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and while omega-3 is linked with lowering inflammation, some omega-6 is associated with promoting inflammation. Since inflammation is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and having diabetes is also linked with ongoing inflammation in the body, it is important that you consume peanut butter in moderation to maintain a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, even though it's largely made up of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, peanut butter does contain some amount of saturated fat. It is also considered a high-calorie food. If moderation isn't practiced, weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease could become concerns. Experts recommend combining peanut butter with whole grain foods or fruits to have for breakfast or as a snack and sticking to the recommended amount of two tablespoons a day.