A new study says PB may prevent weight gain. But how?

By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan

Feel guilty about eating high-calorie peanut butter every day? Don't. New research finds a good reason to keep loading up on peanut buttery goodness-as if you needed an excuse. (We bet you can relate to these 20 Things All Peanut Butter Addicts Understand.)

Kids who ate peanuts or peanut butter three times a week over the course of 12 weeks had lower BMIs by the end of the study than those who ate the snack once a week or less, according to the Journal of Applied Research on Children.

Peanuts and peanut butter kept the kids full in between meals, preventing an all-out binge once they got home. "Peanuts and peanut butter support satiety and are nutrient dense," says Craig Johnston, Ph.D., a behavioral psychologist at the University of Houston, and author of the study. (Have you tried these 10 Healthy Peanut Butter Recipes?)

While this study looked at children, particularly Mexican-American children, researchers expect these findings to apply to everyone. How many times have you spent the day running around your office only to realize that you've completely skipped lunch? (Raises hand.) "You don't make good food choices when you're starving," says Johnston. Read: Why you eat 40 billion chicken wings at happy hour.

Here's the caveat: "The trick is to use peanuts and peanut butter to manage future calories better, not to add calories to your diet," says Johnston. "Peanuts aren't a miracle food that make calories disappear, but they can hold you over and help you eat more mindfully." (The students in the study only ate 120-170 calories of the snack.)

Look for pre-portioned packages, like a squeezable pouch of Justin's All-Natural Peanut Butter. While they may be more expensive, they'll keep you from eating a whole jar. "We wouldn't have gotten the same results if we gave the kids an extra-large jar," says Johnston.

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