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David Freeze: Gotta run

Peanut Butter Won’t Make You Fat

On my recent bike ride, my needed daily caloric intake was somewhere between 5,500 and 7,000. That’s a lot of food but I couldn’t overlook the constant feeling of hunger if I didn’t eat enough. Choices were often limited, especially with so many supply points that only consisted of a sparse convenience store.

I’m a peanut butter fanatic and love just about anything that contains it. One of the other long distance cyclists that I met was actually passing out packs of peanut butter crackers. But recently I have often heard or read reasons why peanut butter is not a good nutritional choice. Here is some information from foremost running nutritionist Nancy Clark, herself a former world class marathoner.

Peanut butter is not fattening. While those who eat too much of anything can find it fattening, peanuts and peanut butter are satiating, meaning that they help you feel pleasantly fed. The fat in peanut butter helps absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. You want to include some healthful fat in each meal and peanut butter is a wonderful option.

Peanut butter offers many health benefits. The fat in peanut butter is primarily health promoting mono and poly unsaturated fat that knocks down inflammation. Compared to nut avoiders, people who ate 1.5 ounces of nuts five times a week lowered their risk of heart disease by 44% and risk of a heart attack by 60%.

It gets even better. Peanut butter eaters improve their brain-blood circulation and mental function. A diet rich in healthy fats helps slow cognitive decline. Peanut butter also is a good source of arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels flexible so that blood flows more easily and reduces blood pressure. The more peanut butter you eat, the bigger the effect on health protection.

Peanut butter, like all sources of plant protein, reduces the risk of developing Type ll diabetes. This means that a breakfast with peanut butter helps control blood glucose through lunchtime and into the afternoon, resulting in stable energy and a reduced desire to eat.

All peanuts are non-GMO and have low risk of pesticide residue, in part because peanuts grow under the ground. Runners and other exercisers need to get about 20 grams of protein per meal or snack. A peanut butter and honey sandwich with a yogurt is a tasty and easy way to get this.

Two big questions have been on my own mind about peanut butter. I always read labels and have been concerned that usually the second ingredient is sugar. And is all-natural peanut better than Skippy, Jif or the other common brands?

Clark addressed both of these questions. “All that sugar” is only 2 or 3 grams per serving, nothing compared to the 10-15 grams of sugar in jelly or honey you might add to the peanut butter or the 6 grams in the bread. Clark said, “Regardless, sugar fuels the muscles. Please fret less about added sugar and focus more on peanut butter’s zinc, folate, vitamin E, niacin, and selenium. It is nutrient rich. Concerning the natural verses conventional brands, conventional brands might have 2% added saturated fat to control the oil from separating. This small amount does not over-ride the positive health benefits of peanut butter.”

Another concern is the sodium in peanut butter. Clark says, “The 150 milligrams of sodium is less than you get in a slice of bread or 12 ounces of Gatorade. As an athlete, you need to replace the sodium you lose in sweat.”

And the last big question, what if I can’t stop eating peanut butter with a reasonable serving? Clark said, “Overindulging means that you like it; you should eat it more often. If you eat it regularly, in a few days you will stop craving it. Do not deny yourself this yummy sports food. You will deprive your body of valuable health benefits.” Clark usually enjoys two peanut butter sandwiches a day, one for lunch and another to curb late afternoon hunger.

I look forward to regular articles written by Clark that result in real-life practical diet strategies for those who exercise. Her “Sports Nutrition Guidebook” is a bestseller and other information is available at www.nancyclarkrd.com

Keep the Sept. 1 United Way Sunset Run 5K on your mind as we head into late summer racing. The upcoming racing schedule is always available at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

One correction from my Brooke and Vivian column from last week. Brooke Taylor has lost 36 pounds for the year as opposed to the incorrect 26 that I wrote. Brooke ordered me a basic math book.

See you in couple of weeks!

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