Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP - Expert Guidance on How to Navigate Peanut Butter and IBS

Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP? (Expert Guidance on Peanut Butter and IBS)

“Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP? (Expert Guidance on Peanut Butter and IBS)” was originally written by dietetic intern and Certified Personal Trainer Julie Wilcoxson, B.S. and was reviewed, edited and updated by Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT.

Whether spread generously on toast, added to a smoothie, or enjoyed right out of the jar by the spoonful, peanut butter goes great with a wide variety of foods and can make a tasty, nutrient-dense dietary staple for many of us.

But if you’re among the millions navigating a low FODMAP diet to help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), you may be wondering: “is peanut butter low FODMAP?”

You’ll be happy to know that yes, it is! However, there’s more to consider when it comes to peanut butter and IBS.  Read on to get the full low-down.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not replace 1-1 medical/nutritional advice. Consult with your doctor and a FODMAP-trained gut health dietitian nutritionist for custom advice tailored to your bio-individual needs. 

Affiliate disclosure: This list contains affiliate links*.  As an Amazon Associate, Whole-istic Living may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

What are FODMAPs? (Quick review)

“FODMAP” is an acronym which stands for “Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.”

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are generally difficult to digest, and most likely to ferment and/or pull in water, by osmosis, in our gut.

If you have IBS or SIBO, research is revealing you’re more likely to experience IBS-like symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, and/or diarrhea when you consume high quantities of FODMAPs in your diet. (1) 

(Read more about the low FODMAP diet here.)

Why peanut butter is low FODMAP

According to Monash University (the leading authority on all things FODMAPs), peanut butter is low FODMAP because in reasonable quantities (up to 2 tablespoons), it doesn’t contain significant quantities of fructans, fructose, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), lactose, mannitol, or sorbitol.

How much peanut butter is low FODMAP? 

The recommended serving size of peanut butter on a low FODMAP plan is approximately 2 tablespoons, as suggested by the Monash University App

However, it’s important to note that individual tolerance levels may vary. It’s also important to note the brand of peanut butter and any additional ingredients it may contain.  

2 tablespoons peanut butter is low FODMAP - Monash University FODMAP App screenshot

Peanut Butter and IBS: What else to consider

Not all peanut butter is low FODMAP, and sometimes your IBS symptoms may be triggered by factors that aren’t related to FODMAPs at all.

Despite being an inherently low FODMAP food, let’s take a look at some alternative explanations for why peanut butter could potentially trigger your IBS symptoms.

Fat intolerance 

Fat intolerance happens when your body can’t easily digest fats and absorb fats from food, usually due to a digestive insufficiency. (Not producing/releasing enough bile, stomach acid, and/or pancreatic enzymes are all examples of digestive insufficiency!)

When your digestive system can’t break down fats effectively, eating high-fat food like peanut butter may lead to symptoms of diarrhea, stomach pain, light-colored stools, and/or greasy stools from the fat malabsorption. (2)

TLDR:  Even though it is categorized as a low FODMAP food, peanut butter (a high-fat food) may still trigger IBS symptoms if you have a fat intolerance. 

Histamine intolerance

Histamine intolerance (HIT) happens when your body lacks the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) in your gastrointestinal tract. (3)

While peanut butter isn’t inherently a high-histamine food, it has been shown to sometimes increase blood levels of histamine indirectly. (4)

Sugar/starch intolerance

There might be small quantities of sugar and/or starch in most types of peanut butter.

While this won’t make a difference for the majority of IBS sufferers, we want to acknowledge those with congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency (CSID) who have a sugar/starch intolerance caused by missing enzymes, and often get mis-diagnosed with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D).

If you notice low FODMAP starchy foods and even low FODMAP nuts seem to trigger IBS symptoms, it may be worth working with your treatment team to rule out a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency and subsequent sugar/starch intolerance.

Added reactive ingredients

Not all peanut butter is the same.  Many commercial brands of peanut butter contain added ingredients which may potentially trigger IBS symptoms.

It’s important to read labels (specifically the ingredient list, in this case) and be mindful of what other sneaky things might be hiding in your peanut butter.

Sugars and Sweeteners 

It may seem impossible sometimes to find a brand of peanut butter that doesn’t contain sugar on the label.  

Some common examples of high FODMAP sugars and sweeteners you might encounter in peanut butter can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • High fructose corn syrup

If there’s less than 3 to 5 grams of added sugar per serving, this may not be an issue but it’s better to air on the side of caution!

Recommended reading:

Peanut allergy/sensitivity 

There are other types of adverse food reactions which go beyond just FODMAPs and even food intolerances.

For example, folks with an allergy and/or sensitivity to peanuts may get diarrhea/vomiting as part of an immune-mediated reaction to the protein in peanuts/peanut butter.

If you’d like a more in-depth explanation on how this works, check out the following articles: 

In other cases, even if you’re eating peanut butter, the IBS symptoms you’re experiencing may have nothing to do with the peanut butter itself!

Are you pairing peanut butter with high FODMAP foods? 

While peanut butter is generally a low FODMAP food, this doesn’t mean the foods you’re pairing with it are. 

For example, some popular peanut butter pairings which happen to be high in FODMAPs include: 

  • Apples and peanut butter 
  • Toast with peanut butter 
  • Granola with peanut butter 
  • Crackers and peanut butter 
  • Regular peanut butter cookies

(These are just general examples, which may or may not apply to you specifically – but we wanted to provide you with some context!)

What you can do: suggested swaps

In case any of those examples resonate, feel free to try out the following suggested low FODMAP modifications and swaps:

What’s the best peanut butter for IBS? 

Currently there are no Monash-certified brands of peanut butter on the market. 

However, this is generally easy enough to determine simply by looking at an ingredient list and product labels.

For example, in the early stages of navigating IBS, we generally recommend sticking to a low FODMAP peanut butter made with simple ingredients like peanuts, oil, and perhaps a pinch of salt.  

Crunchy or smooth?

This doesn’t matter from a FODMAP standpoint.

However, smooth peanut butter versus crunchy peanut butter may be easier to tolerate than crunchy peanut butter, if you’re prone to a roughage intolerance and struggle with raw/fibrous, higher-residue foods.

What about oils?

All oils are inherently low FODMAP because they’re 100% fat, and don’t contain any fermentable carbohydrates.

However, from a health standpoint, we encourage you to consider choosing a peanut butter that doesn’t contain any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. (That’s a sneaky word for “trans-fat!”) 

Salt or no salt?

Added salt in foods won’t impact your digestion, and it may make peanut butter more palatable.  

(A low FODMAP diet is restrictive enough without worrying about salt in peanut butter, right?)

Of course, the only exception would be if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, in which case you’d need to make sure you’re checking labels to keep your total sodium intake within a safe range each day.

Best low FODMAP peanut butter brands and products list (top picks)

Please note this list isn’t exhaustive. There are other great low FODMAP peanut butters on the market.  We just wanted to give you an idea of how you can get started trying a low FODMAP peanut butter!

(Also note that we chose not to feature peanut butter made with trans-fat, since it’s not aligned with our nutrition philosophy.  But if you’d like to inquire about the FODMAP content of a peanut butter not listed here, drop a comment below at the very bottom of this page.)

How to incorporate peanut butter into a low FODMAP diet 

Often, on elimination diets, it’s easy to focus on what you might have to give up. 

Let’s shift your perspective towards all the tasty new culinary creations you’ll have the opportunity to explore and enjoy!

Here are a few of our favorite FODMAP-friendly ways to enjoy peanut butter:

  • Peanut butter and low FODMAP jelly sandwich
  • Toasted low FODMAP bread or waffles with peanut butter
  • Rice cakes topped with peanut butter and sliced strawberries
  • Fresh carrot sticks dipped in peanut butter
  • Low FODMAP crackers and peanut butter
  • Peanut butter mixed into low FODMAP yogurt of choice
  • Low FODMAP overnight oats with peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana (no brown spots) with a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A few ounces of low FODMAP chocolate dipped in peanut butter 
  • Add a dollop of peanut butter to your low FODMAP smoothie, for extra sustenance
  • Chia pudding with peanut butter and low FODMAP milk/milk substitute, sweetened with real maple syrup (or low FODMAP sweetener of choice)

Simple + tasty low FODMAP peanut butter recipes to try 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)  

When is peanut butter high FODMAP? 

Consuming larger quantities of peanut butter at one time (i.e. more than 2 tablespoons) may potentially contain FODMAPs.  (This is called “FODMAP stacking.”)

Alternatively, certain peanut butters on the market may contain high FODMAP sweeteners such as honey or high fructose corn syrup.  (These may trigger IBS symptoms if you have a fructose intolerance.) 

To ensure you’re choosing a low FODMAP option it’s important to carefully read the ingredients list and keep portions within 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or less.  

Is peanut butter IBS friendly? 

Peanut butter sans added ingredients is naturally low FODMAP in a Monash-tested serving size of ~2 tablespoons per serving or less per meal/snack. 

Therefore, it’s unlikely (in more cases than not) that peanut butter will trigger your IBS symptoms.

Still, it can be confusing to discern between low FODMAP foods and what’s “IBS-friendly”, since a certain percentage of people presenting with IBS-like symptoms are actually dealing with something else that goes beyond FODMAPs.

For example, if you have a fat intolerance, peanut butter may still potentially trigger IBS symptoms due to its high fat content. (5)

Peanut butter usually also contains small amounts of sucrose and starch which aren’t inherently bad for IBS… unless your root cause of IBS is a sucrase-isomaltase enzyme deficiency.

Lastly, peanut butter may raise histamine levels indirectly (4) and subsequently make you feel worse, in some but not all cases of histamine intolerance. 

Is peanut oil low FODMAP?

Yes!  All oils – including peanut oil – are inherently 100% low FODMAP since they’re 100% fat, and thus don’t contain any traces of fermentable carbohydrates.

However, peanut oil is high in fat so it may still trigger IBS symptoms if you happen to have an underlying fat intolerance.

(When in doubt, listen to your body and consult an expert!)

Are peanuts low FODMAP?

Yes; peanuts are generally considered a low FODMAP food if you’re sticking to a Monash-tested and approved serving of ~32 whole peanuts (0.99 ounce) or less at any given time.

32 Peanuts are low FODMAP - Monash FODMAP App screenshot

Are peanuts good or bad for IBS? 

Truthfully, no particular foods are inherently “good” or “bad” for IBS since it always depends on your bio-individuality.  

Generally, sticking to a Monash-tested low FODMAP serving of ~32 peanuts or less at one time is usually safe (more often than not), from an IBS symptom trigger standpoint. 

However, consuming larger quantities of peanuts may increase your intake of FODMAPs, fat, and/or sulfur which could negatively impact your IBS symptoms depending on your tolerance to each of these constituents.

Lastly, you may or may not be able to tolerate peanuts and peanut butter if you have a histamine intolerance and/or peanut sensitivity.

Is peanut butter high in histamine? 

Peanut butter itself isn’t naturally high in histamine.

However, it does contain other “amine” constituents which may potentially increase histamine levels in your blood indirectly. (4)

If you have or suspect a histamine intolerance (which we sometimes see alongside IBS), it’s important to keep a detailed IBS food diary (aka food-symptom journal) and consult an expert as needed, to help determine your individual tolerance.

When are peanuts and peanut butter an IBS trigger? 

Peanuts and peanut butter may potentially trigger IBS symptoms if eaten in large amounts, due to the higher fat content and/or as a result of FODMAP stacking.

Even when they’re consumed in Monash-approved low FODMAP quantities, peanuts and peanut butter may also potentially trigger IBS symptoms in certain cases of histamine intolerance, sulfur intolerance, food sensitivities.

Lastly, it’s always worth considering whether or not you happen to be consuming any reactive foods or ingredients at the same time as peanuts / peanut butter.

(Think: honey-flavored peanut butter, jellies and jams made with high fructose corn syrup, high FODMAP breads, etc.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!)

Is peanut butter gluten free? 

Yes!  Both peanuts and peanut butter are naturally gluten free, which makes them generally safe if you have celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. . 

However, it’s always good practice to check the label when purchasing commercially-made peanut butter for any additives that may contain gluten. 

Cross contamination is also possible during processing.  So if gluten cross-contamination is a concern for you, opt for certified gluten free variations of peanut butter to ensure safety. 

Lastly, if you have a gluten allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, make sure you’re adding peanut butter to gluten free variations of bread, crackers. etc.

Related articles and resources

The bottom line

Peanut butter and peanuts are low FODMAP in reasonable servings of 2 tablespoons or ~32 peanuts at one time, according to the Monash FODMAP App.

On a low FODMAP elimination diet, we recommend choosing a peanut butter with just a few simple ingredients such as peanuts, salt, and oil.  

Small quantities of added sugar in peanut butter are unlikely to trigger IBS symptoms.

However, this doesn’t mean peanut butter is always IBS-friendly.

If you suspect a low FODMAP peanut butter is triggering IBS symptoms, we recommend keeping a food-symptom journal and consulting your treatment team to rule out and address other possibilities such as fat intolerance, histamine intolerance, food sensitivities, starch intolerance, or investigating any potentially reactive foods you could be eating alongside the peanut butter.

When in doubt, listen to your body and consult an expert!

Next steps 

Understanding how your body responds to different foods and decoding your IBS symptoms and trigger foods can be empowering on your journey to a healthier gut.

Learn more (so you can make informed choices) by downloading the free gut health nutrition guide to learn how to avoid 5 common diet mistakes on your gut-healing journey!

Free Download - 5 Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut - by Jenna Volpe RDN LD CLT

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