Food: How to find a healthy peanut butter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Metro Creative Connection

Peanut butter is a staple in many people’s pantries. A versatile and delicious food, peanut butter on toast can make for a filling breakfast, while few would deny the appeal of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunchtime.

Even ardent peanut butter devotees may be surprised to learn of the beloved spread’s many nutritional benefits. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fats, which help to increase the amount of “good” cholesterol in the body. That’s a valuable benefit, as higher levels of good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, may provide some protection against heart disease. In addition, the online medical resource Healthline notes that peanut butter is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, vitamin B6 and manganese.

As healthy as peanut butter can be, it’s important that consumers recognize that not all peanut butters are the same, especially in regard to their nutritional value. Some peanut butters are heavy on sugar and sweeteners, which can cancel out their potential health benefits. The AND offers the following tips to consumers looking for healthy peanut butters.

• Read the ingredients list. The healthiest peanut butters contain peanuts as their main ingredient. The AND notes that food labels list ingredients in descending order by weight. Peanut butters that contain peanuts as their main ingredient will list peanuts first.

• Count the ingredients. Some peanut butters are made only from peanuts, and such options tend to be healthier than products with numerous ingredients.

• Choose “natural” peanut butters over “reduced fat” alternatives. The AND notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration only allows manufacturers to use the descriptor “natural” when products are produced with no artificial or synthetic ingredients. Therefore, products with “natural” on the label are unlikely to contain added sugars or hydrogenated oils, the inclusion of which can add unhealthy trans fats to peanut butters. And while consumers may see “reduced fat” and think a product is healthier than foods with no such descriptors attached, that’s not necessarily the case, as the and notes that manufacturers often replace fat with sugar and unhealthy fillers.

• Avoid premade PB&J. Peanut butter and jelly, or PB&J, may be a beloved combination, but premade PB&J tends to contain lots of artificial ingredients and sugar. PB&J is easy to whip up, so stick to purchasing peanut butter and jellies separately.