Saturated fat and heart health: what’s the link?

Updated: Mar 9

How a low-calorie peanut butter replacement could be the first step towards better health.

The traditional Western diet can be a menace for overall health, largely characterised by refined carbs and highly saturated trans fatty acids. With our dependence on milk chocolate, processed meat, pastries and butter, we’re putting ourselves at risk of a broad spectrum of health problems.

So how can we keep our heart in check and still allow the occasional treat? Low fat peanut butter and other swops could just be the place to start.

First things first: what is saturated fat?

Not all fats are ‘bad’ fats. Saturated fat is typically found in foods such as butter and fatty meats. If your diet is too high in this type of fat, you may have an increased risk of ‘bad cholesterol’ – typically known as ‘non-HDL’ cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood, which can block blood vessels in high quantities. There are no noticeable symptoms for high cholesterol other than results on a blood test, so it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

While there are some kinds of ‘good’ saturated fats, such as stearic acid (found in meat and chocolate), this is typically accompanied by other unhealthier fats. Likewise, we need to watch out for artificially produced trans fats, which are found in hydrogenated oils. Food manufacturers are working to reduce these, but you should always read the label.

Why is saturated fat bad for you?

Like many things, saturated fat is all about moderation. With modern diets and sedentary lifestyles, we could be exposing ourselves to many health risks. High cholesterol in the blood can increase our chances of developing heart disease and stroke.

In the UK, around 7.6 million people are living with heart disease, while strokes are responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year.

What’s the link between saturated fat and peanut butter?

While saturated fats are associated with animal products, peanuts are typically high in ‘good’ fats, which can actually help to lower cholesterol. The problem with many high street favourites is that high street manufacturers add other ingredients to improve the product’s shelf life. These may include:

  • Hydrogenated oils

  • Palm oils

  • Palm fruit oils.

This helps to emulsify the peanut butter, giving it that creamy texture and adding to the taste, while preserving the product. However, the downside is that it pushes up the saturated fat levels in high street peanut butter. On their own, without added salt or sugar, peanuts can be a great source of magnesium and antioxidants. This can actually aid heart health!

Thankfully, there are low calorie ways to eat peanut butter – it’s all about being creative.

Can you get low calorie peanut butter?

Low calorie peanut butter is among many foods that offer the holy grail of nutrition. Unlike standard peanut butter, it’s kinder to your waistline, but you’ll still benefit from the cholesterol-lowering properties of the natural peanut derivative.

Standard peanut butter contains around 50g of fat for every 100g – which makes up 72% of its total calories. That’s up to 466 calories from fat alone, or 544 in a standard 100g of peanut butter. So if we imagine a typical serving of two tablespoons – two slices of buttered toast – we’re looking at close to 200 in one serving.

By choosing low calorie peanut butter options, you can enjoy up to 80% reduced fat, and save yourself 373 calories! This allows you to look after your heart health without compromising your health.

How the low calorie peanut butter replacement works

It’s a rare phenomenon in the Western diet that fat loss doesn’t equate to reduced taste. An even worse consequence, following changing food trends in the 1980s, many food manufacturers turned to substituting that fat with something else – sugar. This resulted in a widespread misunderstanding of good and bad fats, and an upsurge in refined carbohydrates.

With better science, we’re now using advanced manufacturing methods to produce healthy foods without compromising on taste.

Our low calorie peanut butter healthy alternative comes in powder form that can be mixed with water to form a paste. Rather than adding artificial nasties, the manufacturing process involves squeezing natural oils from roasted peanuts. Once these natural oils are gone, the remaining peanuts are ground into a powder.

Additional benefits of peanut butter powder

Better still, this means there’s nothing added to it at the end such as palm oil. This means those nasty saturated fats can’t creep in and push up our cholesterol levels – or pump up the calories.

There’s also the environmental impact. According to the WWF, palm oil is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in some of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Say no to palm oil and you could just be doing your bit to save the planet.

How you can make changes to your heart health

Of course, switching to a low calorie peanut butter replacement is just one of many lifestyle changes you can make to look after your heart. If you want to lower your cholesterol and start feeling better, you can also try:

Giving up smoking

Cigarettes are one of the leading causes of coronary heart disease. Even reducing your daily intake can put you on the right track towards better heart health. You can find free NHS resources to help.

Moving more

An active lifestyle can help you to maintain a healthy weight, relieve stress and improve your strength. You should aim for two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week. Try half an hour over five days – even a brisk walk will do.

Eating more fibre

Try to add more fibre to your diet to reduce your blood pressure and look after your heart. You should aim for around 30g per day, which you can get from whole grains, green vegetables and legumes (beans).

How to include low fat peanut butter as part of your diet

Powdered peanut butter is ideal for vegetarians and vegans, as well as those generally trying to look after their health. You can include it as part of your workout routine by adding it to protein shakes, or jazzing up homemade flapjacks and low fat pancakes.

Check out our full range of recipe options and discover the heart healthy benefits of low calorie peanut butter today!


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