Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Some peanut butter contains salmonella – only certain brands are safe

Poor peanut butter.  It gets a bad rap.  Avoid it during pregnancy and lactation.  Get it out of the schools.  Do not let kids try it until they are at least 3 years old.  And, now, much of it may be contaminated with salmonella.  That does not sound too reassuring.

 

It is too bad, though, since peanut butter is so nutritious and also delicious!  Containing a host of vitamins and minerals, peanuts also contain phytonutrients – nutrients that offer health benefits beyond nutrition alone…such as heart disease prevention.  Additionally, if you make a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, perhaps with a banana or natural jam, you have yourself quite a nutritious meal, especially if it’s served with a glass of milk.

 

However, for those with peanut allergies (it has been cited about 3.3 million Americans have peanut or tree nut allergies) or those needing to avoid peanuts, other nut or seed butters may be a good substitute for peanut butter.  For instance, soy nut butter or sunflower seed butter (also called sun butter) offer good alternatives.  There are plenty of other nut butters out there, too, if there is no risk of a tree nut allergy.  Cashew butter, almond butter and hazelnut butter are three of the more common varieties.  All have similar fat and calories except soy nut butter which is slightly lower in fat than other nut butters. 

 

As far as the peanut butter and peanut salmonella outbreak, the FDA has linked it to a processing plant in Georgia that makes the products for institutions and schools.  Name brand jar peanut butter has not been implicated and is assumed safe.  The FDA has created a list of recalled products and can be viewed online at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm

 

If you love peanut butter and choose to consume it, here are some ideas how to use it.  If you avoid peanut butter, choose one of the nut or seed butters mentioned above instead.

 

Snacks:

  • A medium apple or banana and peanut butter
  • 2 celery stalks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins
  • Whole grain crackers or pretzels and peanut butter

Meals:

  • A peanut butter and banana sandwich with a glass of milk or container of yogurt or cottage cheese
  • A milkshake or smoothie made with a few teaspoons of peanut butter, lowfat milk and optional sprinkle of whole grain cereal such as Cheerios
  • A whole grain English muffin with a smear of peanut butter, a piece of string cheese and a handful of grapes
  • Thai chicken and butternut squash soup (made with a little peanut butter) – look for online recipes
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