Add Peanut Butter To Your Diet If You Have This Medical Diagnosis

We could all benefit from a little more peanut butter in our lives. Not only for the sake of childhood nostalgia, but because this creamy nut butter can support our health in countless ways. Of course, the magic ingredient is peanuts, and the research continues to grow year after year to show that adding peanuts to our diets may help us live longer, healthier lives (via Nutrients, Frontiers in Nutrition).

According to Brain Balance, peanut butter may offer health benefits specific to children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In looking at survey data from 2016 to 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the estimated number of children ever to have been diagnosed with ADHD is approximately 6 million. Also impacting adults, people with ADHD regularly exhibit behaviors of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that interfere with their day-to-day lives (via CDC). There's one nutrient in peanut butter, however, that may help enhance focus in children with the neurodevelopmental disorder: protein.

Protein in peanut butter supports focus

In a 2-tablespoon serving of smooth peanut butter with no salt, you'll get 7.1 grams of protein, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Not far behind, you'll find 7.01 grams of protein in the same-size serving of crunchy peanut butter (via USDA). Experts at Brain Balance explain that protein is an attention-enhancing nutrient, and there's no shortage of ways to serve up a delicious, focus-boosting serving of peanut butter. Of course, you can't go wrong with a classic PB&J sandwich, but for those with sensory sensitivities, experts alternatively suggest protein shakes, as the use of a straw can be soothing. Just be sure to first check with your pediatrician to determine if it's safe to give your child protein shakes.

Psychiatrist Benjamin Prince told NPR that getting in some protein first thing in the morning can also help kids with ADHD stay properly fueled. Between treatment drugs that may reduce appetite and the rapid burning of calories from hyperactivity, a slice of toast with peanut butter can help stave off "hanger" later in the day, which Prince says kids with ADHD are often susceptible to.

Eating peanut butter should not be considered a treatment method for ADHD

While incorporating peanut butter into one's diet may offer some benefits for people living with ADHD, it should not be considered a primary method of treatment. "[Diet's] main role in my clinical practice is as a complementary treatment," Prince told NPR. Therefore, while you may choose to up your peanut butter intake, it's also important to follow your doctor's ADHD treatment recommendations, which may include behavioral therapy or medication. Certain supplements may also help treat symptoms of ADHD.

Children are often undertreated for ADHD, particularly young girls. For this reason, caregivers may want to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of the condition. While diagnostic criteria will vary somewhat by age, generally speaking, potential signs of ADHD include but are not limited to difficulty maintaining attention, being easily distracted, fidgeting, excessive talking, being unable to remain seated, frequently losing items, or avoidance of tasks that require sustained concentration, like homework. According to the CDC, symptoms need to be present for 6 months or more and must have emerged before the age of 12.