There’s a popular view that foods that are good for you are necessarily boring or tasteless. Put another way if it tastes good then it must be unhealthy. Well a new piece of research suggests that at least one ‘naughty’ food is good for you – if you’re young and female at least. In a study involving over 9000 young women, researchers tracked the intake of vegetable fats and proteins to see if there was any influence on later benign breast disease or breast cancer. The result was clear enough – to quote from the abstract of the paper:
The greatest sources of vegetable fat and protein in these girls were peanut butter, peanuts, nuts, beans (beans, lentils, and soybeans), and corn. A daily serving of any one of these was associated with lower risk (OR = 0.32/(serv/day), 95 % CI 0.13–0.79; p = 0.01). Peanut butter (and nuts) at age 11 years was inversely associated with risk (p = 0.01). In analyses of intakes at age 14 years, vegetable protein was associated with lower BBD risk (OR = 0.64/(10 gm/day), 95 % CI 0.43–0.95; p = 0.03). A daily serving at 14 years of any one of the foods was associated with lower risk (OR = 0.34, 95 % CI 0.16–0.75; p = 0.01), as was peanut butter (and nuts) (p = 0.02). Girls with a family history of breast cancer had significantly lower risk if they consumed these foods or vegetable fat. In conclusion, consumption of vegetable protein, fat, peanut butter, or nuts by older girls may help reduce their risk of BBD as young women.
In other words, eating peanut butter reduced the incidence both of benign breast disease and, for girls with a family history of breast cancer, it reduced the chance of getting breast cancer.
Not bad for peanut butter – a food that has had a bad press over the years because of concerns about the sugar, salt and oils in it. However, there’s mounting evidence that peanut butter is definitely a healthy food that just happens to taste great.