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Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? Experts Explain

Feeling constipated? Read this before you grab a spoon or make a peanut butter sandwich.

Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? Experts Explain

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Being constipated can be very uncomfortable. While stress can cause constipation, so can a lack of hydration or a food intolerance. Or it could be simply something you’re eating. Could peanut butter cause constipation?

An essential condiment for many families—especially those with picky eaters—peanut butter is often considered a culprit for constipation. But can it really back you up? You may be surprised by the answer. Here’s what two experts have to say.

Does peanut butter cause constipation?

There are lots of constipating foods out there. But the good news is that peanut butter doesn’t constipate most children and adults, according to Kacie Barnes, RD, nutritionist, and expert for Once Upon a Farm. “Peanut butter is not typically a food that causes constipation. It may actually be the opposite. Peanut butter contains fiber, and could help promote bowel regularity. Constipation may result from a lack of fiber in the diet, so peanut butter can be a good option to add in.”

However, not everyone should take this information as an excuse to grab a spoon or spread this delicious nut butter on a sandwich. Chanel Kenner, RD notes peanut butter can contribute indirectly to constipation—depending on overall diet, hydration levels, and digestive system. “Peanut butter is high in protein and fat, which can slow down digestion in some people, potentially leading to constipation if not balanced with an adequate intake of fiber-rich foods and fluids.”

Does peanut butter slow digestion?

Peanut butter can slow digestion because it is high in fat explains Kenner. “Fat and protein take longer to digest compared to carbohydrates, which can lead to a feeling of fullness and satiety but may also delay the emptying of the stomach and the passage of food through the digestive tract.”

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However, according to Banes, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. “Slowing the digestion process doesn’t mean it gives you a slow metabolism. But it does mean that you may feel fuller longer, compared to a food with less dietary fat and dietary fiber.”

What are the most constipating foods?

Kenner says that ultra-processed foods (such as fast food, frozen meals, and packaged snacks like chips), dairy products, red meat, fried foods (like French fries and fried chicken), white rice, and white bread along with unripe fruits are the most constipating foods. So it's important to balance your diet out with foods that are high in fiber. Check food labels to find out how many grams of fiber are in your food.

That doesn't mean you should cut out these foods completely. Just don’t consume a lot of constipating foods all at once. “A diet high in foods made from refined grains, a lot of dairy, a lack of fiber, and a lack of hydration is often the recipe for constipation. Food made with refined flour often has a lower fiber content because the fiber is stripped away during the grain refining process. This means things like pancakes, muffins, and white bread often lack the fiber that their whole-grain counterparts have,” explains Barnes.

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FAQs

What should you do if you are constipated?

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If you or your child are constipated, Barnes suggests first increasing hydration and fiber intake. “I like to add fiber where I can, such as adding chia or ground flax seeds into smoothies, snacking on fresh fruits and veggies, or adding nut butter and berries to oatmeal. My kids and I both love the Once Upon a Farm Oat bars and Overnight Oats pouches.”

Alternatively, she recommends taking magnesium citrate supplements, which act as a laxative. Just be sure to check the label for side effects before trying something new.

Lastly, If constipation is chronic or you have any concerns, Barnes recommends reaching out to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician.

Are there any peanut butter alternatives that can help with constipation?

Kenner says that almond butter is a fantastic alternative to peanut butter, especially if you have a peanut intolerance or peanut allergy. “Like peanut butter, almond butter is rich in healthy fats and protein. It also contains fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E, which can help support digestive health and alleviate constipation.”

If you don't like almond butter, the RD suggests sunflower seed butter, cashew butter, sesame seed butter (also called tahini), and pumpkin seed butter as alternatives to peanut butter. It’s best to read the label before consuming nut butters to make sure there are no added sugars.

How can eating nut butter help with constipation?

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Kenner says that nut butters, including peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and others, are generally nutritious sources of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. “The fiber content in nut butters can actually help alleviate constipation by adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements for many people.”

She also notes it's important to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water, to support overall digestive health.

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