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  • Writer's pictureMary Corso, RDN, CDN

Do I Need To be Picky With My Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is a staple in most American's pantries/fridges. We've been getting a lot of questions from patients in regards to what to look for when they are buying their peanut butter. So, what better time to look a little more closely at this creamy, nutty spread? Peanut butter has been a beloved staple in many households for generations, finding its way into sandwiches, desserts, and even savory dishes. However, not all peanut butter is created equal. Let us explore why you might want to be picky with your peanut butter and what to look for on the label when shopping for this tasty food so many of us love!

The Not-So-Great: Hydrogenated Oils in Popular Brands

If you've been grabbing the same jar of peanut butter off the shelf for years, it's time to check the ingredient list. Many common brands, such as Jif and Skippy, contain partially hydrogenated oils. These oils are a source of trans fats, which have been linked to heart disease and other health issues. Fortunately, due to increasing awareness of trans fats' negative effects, some brands are reformulating their products to eliminate or reduce hydrogenated oils. Be sure to look for "No trans fats" or "Zero grams of trans fat" on the label.

The Benefits of Peanut Butter

Before we dive deeper into the world of peanut butter, let's not forget why it's such a beloved food:

  • Protein Powerhouse: Peanut butter is packed with protein, making it a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. It can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

  • Healthy Fats: While it does contain fat, peanut butter is primarily composed of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels.

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Peanut butter is a good source of essential nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.

  • Antioxidants: Peanut butter contains antioxidants like resveratrol, which can help fight free radicals and inflammation in the body.

Better Brands and What to Look for on the Label

If you're looking to make a healthier choice when it comes to peanut butter, here's what to consider:

  • Natural Peanut Butter: Go for natural peanut butter with minimal ingredients. Ideally, it should contain just peanuts and maybe a small amount of salt. Some brands offer "no-stir" options, which can be more convenient.

  • Check for Sugar: Be mindful of added sugars. Some peanut butter brands add sugar to their products. Look for "no added sugar" or "unsweetened" on the label.

  • Avoid Hydrogenated Oils: As mentioned earlier, steer clear of peanut butter with hydrogenated oils or trans fats.

  • Sodium Content: Keep an eye on the sodium content if you're watching your salt intake. Look for "low sodium" options.

  • Organic Varieties: If you prefer organic products, there are organic peanut butter options available.

  • Chunky or Smooth: Choose based on your personal preference. Chunky peanut butter tends to have slightly more fiber.

Peanut butter is a tasty and nutritious food that can be part of a balanced diet. However, not all peanut butter is created equal. Being picky with your peanut butter means reading labels, avoiding trans fats, and choosing options with minimal ingredients and added sugars. By making informed choices, you can enjoy the benefits of this delicious spread without compromising your health.

So going forward, explore the world of peanut butter with a careful eye, and enjoy the nutty goodness in a way that's both delicious and nutritious.

Until next time,

Mary Corso RDN,CDN

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