Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and banana. Peanut butter and bacon. Peanut butter energy balls. Peanut butter... in a sauce? Peanut butter seems to have infiltrated every meal –breakfast, lunch, dinner, and most predominantly, snacks. If you're like me and have at least three servings of peanut butter a day (it's in the name, I am sometimes referred to as 'McNut Butter'), you can't get enough of it. But what is peanut butter exactly?

peanut butter, peanut, butter, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

An invincible grocery that packs an impressive shelf-life? (I wouldn't know, I go through 2.5 jars a week).  

The most delectable of spreads, bestowed upon us by some greater being?

The closest thing I have to call the love of my life?

Yes, absolutely, and it's debatable. But my explanations do not give peanut butter the justice it deserves. So I did some research, and here is the *nutty gritty on what I found about peanut butter.

 Grab your spoons, it's about to get nutty.

coffee, candy, dairy product, milk, cream, sweet, chocolate, peanut butter, spoon, jar
Caroline Ingalls

According to the FDA, peanut butter refers to a food prepared by grinding either shelled and roasted blanched peanuts, which may or may not include the germ, or shelled and roasted unblanched peanuts, which includes the skin and germ. You're probably wondering what a germ is. Let's start with the peanut.

What is a peanut?

vegetable, sweet, nut
Katherine Carroll

Contrary to popular belief, a peanut is a legume, not a nut. This means that it grows under the soil, unlike nuts that grow on trees like walnuts and pecans. Legumes are considered to be edible seeds inside enclosed pods. The germ is the embryo, and the nut part is the seed. Peanuts are equipped with some of the most concentrated protein the plant world has to offer. Peanuts have protein, protein is good, and peanut butter is made from peanuts – so peanut butter must always be healthy?

Hold the *spoon.

While it may seem that since peanut butter is protein-packed, it must be healthy. However, a lot of brands like to finagle with their peanut butter to make them taste better by catering to our All-American processed sugar sweet-tooth. They like to sneak in unhealthy additives such as hydrogenated oils, soy protein, corn syrup, salt, and sugar. These ingredients are laden with artificial trans-fats, which are formed during processing when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to make the product more solid. Trans-fat has been shown to increase bad cholesterol (LDL), which increases the risk of developing health complications.

Don't drop those spoons just yet.

Izzi Clark

A romantic comedy turned horror film. But not all heroes wear capes – some make natural peanut butter. Thanks to some brands (Justin's, Laura Scudder's, and Smucker's Natural – I'm looking at you), peanut butter can be good for you. Opt for the nuttiest and healthiest peanut butter that contains predominantly one ingredient: peanuts. Crunchy or smooth, these natural peanut butters are high in the good, mono saturated fats and are free of that extra processed baggage.

Peanut Butter Power

My *peanut butter half, once again. It's a love story, indeed. Hopefully, you can now add to your expert repertoire of peanut butter facts if the question of "what is peanut butter?" ever comes up in casual conversation, as it presumably does every day.

And, more importantly, you can rest assured, as one of the biggest mysteries of your life (or just my life) has been answered. Join me as I drift off into Cloud 9, plastic spoon in one hand, half-eaten peanut butter jar in the other, with the blissful feeling of crushed up peanuts adhered to the roof of my mouth.