Peanut butter is almost as American as apple pie and people do have their favorite brands. Most people have been aware that peanut butter is high in fat, albeit healthy fat, for some time now. However recently the trans fat, sugar and sodium content of peanut butter has been called into question.
• Trans fat: Most manufacturers have taken out the partially hydrogenated oil (used to prevent separation of oil and peanut butter). In fact I only found one peanut butter with partially hydrogenated fat in the ingredient list. In its place palm kernel oil is generally used, which, indeed adds 1 additional gram of saturated fat to the serving size. Additional strategies to avoid separation are to add maltodextrin, soy protein, or mono and di-glyceride emulsifiers.
• Salt: Some brands now come without added salt
• Sugar: Some brands no come without added sugar
Kim’s quick pick: Natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butters do not have added hydrogenated oil for stability or stabilizers to keep the oil and solids from separating.
• If you don’t like the oil separation try turning your peanut butter upside down for about a hour before you open it, this will make stirring much less messy.
Other nut butters: There are also many other nut butters turning up at the regular grocery store such as: Cashew butter, Sunflower butter, and Almond butter. These are great alternatives to peanut butter from a variety standpoint and also from an allergy stand point. The nutritional profile is similar to peanut butter however sunflower seed butter is lower in saturated fat.
Flavored nut butters: Hazelnut and chocolate, Cinnamon raisin swirl, White chocolate wonderful are a few of the names found in the peanut butter aisle these days. The good news is these taste wonderful. The reality check is that they should be consumed in moderation, on occasion as a treat. If you find it hard not to sit down with a jar and a spoon, you may be better off not buying this product.
Bottom Line: Peanut butter is a wholesome food high in calories and other healthful nutrients. To get the most out of your peanut butter watch your portions and choose the one having the flavor you like with the smallest ingredient list.
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