This coming Friday April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! This used to be my favorite go to sandwich as a kid. As I got older, I experimented with different flavors and add-ins. Peanut butter, banana, and honey is a popular option. I also like using almond butter for a twist, or even sunflower seed butter to try something new. In honor of this national holiday, I’d like to share what I know about peanuts (and other nuts), and why they’re so great for us!
Peanuts and other nuts are a great source for plant-based protein. Part of building a healthy plate focuses on eating lean proteins to help build muscle and other tissues in our bodies. Most healthy people with an average diet and moderate physical activity will need anywhere from 60-120 grams of protein a day (depending on a lot of factors like body composition). 2 Tbsp of unsweet peanut butter has 7g of protein. This is a simple and tasty way to add extra protein to your diet, whether you’re a vegetarian looking to boost your intake, or just want a snack to help keep you full until your next meal. Plant-based proteins like nuts are usually low in saturated fats. However, nuts are high in unsaturated fats which have heart-health benefits like helping to keep HDL cholesterol (the good kind) up. Peanut butter also contains a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. And let’s not forget the vitamins and minerals! 1 serving of peanut butter meets almost half the daily recommended dietary intake of copper, a mineral that is essential for blood cell formation and aids in iron absorption. It also provides a good amount of B vitamins which play multiple roles in the body like aiding digestion and building healthy tissues.
Although peanuts are a powerhouse of nutrition, it’s also important to note that they are the leading source of food allergies. Food allergies usually affect about 5% of the population. But USF actually has a much higher portion of students and guests that are affected. Based on a survey conducted on dining preferences and requirements, 46% of respondents indicated that they have some sort of food allergy, intolerance, or dietary restriction. This has lead our USF Dining team to make sure food safety and labeling are at the forefront of the services we provide around campus. Our dining halls (The Hub and Juniper Dining) have “contains nuts” nutrition signs to indicate which recipes that are currently being served have peanuts or tree nuts in them (there’s an example shown to the right!). If you are unable to consume peanuts or tree nuts, please loo out for these signs in front of the dishes being served. Also don’t be afraid to ask any staff member or manager for more information about what ingredients are in our recipes and whether we can offer substitutions or special accommodations for your specific dietary needs!
Should you have more questions about nuts, nutritional signage, menu labeling, or food allergy concerns while eating on campus, please feel free to reach out to me. I am always available for discussion.
Stay safe, stay healthy!