Stores carry two types of peanut butter:
All natural - These contain only natural ingredients. Some brands allow oil to collect at the top, and you will have to stir it. Others are mostly pre-stirred, but expect some oil separation in all natural peanut butters.
Regular - These contain texturing agents, preservatives, and added oils. It will spread smoother, the oil will not come out of solution, but it is not as healthy. Often regular peanut butter contains hydrogenated oil, which are really bad for you.
The natural version is "better" for you, but will it make a difference? Who knows, but it's better to know you are eating something that's not bad for you. Most regular peanut butter contains a small amount of trans fat, but they are allowed to say 0 grams of trans fat on the label if there is under one gram per serving. No amount of trans fat is safe to eat.
Is the fat in peanut butter good for you?
Peanut butter contains both saturated (20%) and monounsaturated fat (80%). Most of the fat in peanut butter in unsaturated and can actually lower your cholesterol levels. Fat is also high in calories (9 calories per gram), so peanut butter gives you lots of energy. Good fats HDL (high density lipoproteins) act like snowballs rolling through your arteries. Bad fats LDL (low density lipoproteins) stick to the HDLs and get cleaned out of crevices in the artery. It's the low density lipoproteins that work their way into your arteries and stick there. This is why regularly consuming foods like peanut butter that are high in HDL can lower your cholesterol levels.
What Peanut butters have the most protein?
All peanut butter brands have about the same amount of protein because they are all made from, you guessed it, peanuts. And the protein content of peanuts is about 7 grams per ounce of peanut butter (28.4 grams).
Why peanut butter is an "Incomplete Protein"
Almost all plant based proteins do not have all nine amino acids that the human body cannot manufacture on its own. Peanut butter lacks methionine, but it is high in lysine. Protein that comes from meat has all nine amino acids. Therefore, vegetarians must mix and match their protein sources so they get all nine essential amino acids. Soy and Quinoa do have all nine essential amino acids, but the levels are not as high for all of them as animal based protein. Knowing which protein sources that are high in which amino acids is important for people that do not eat meat.
What vitamins and minerals does peanut butter have?
Peanut butter is high in Vitamin B-6, which is an 'Essential Nutrient". That means you body can't produce it on its own - you must get it through food. B-6 helps maintain brain function and keeps the nervous system and immune system functioning. Peanut butter is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Is peanut butter is good for weight loss?
Because peanut butter has a high fat (good fat) content, it makes you feel more full so you don't continue to eat more. Some weight loss diets focus on consuming protein and fat instead of carbohydrates. When you eat less carbs, your body switches over to using fat more as its energy source.
Peanut butter is a low-glycemic index food which means it doesn't raise your blood glucose levels as much as other foods. Even when paired with high-glycemic index foods like white bread, peanut butter helps your glucose levels from spiking. Therefore, peanut butter is a great food for diabetics and those looking to lose weight and eat healthier. When paired with fruit spread and whole grain bread, it makes a terrific lunch.
Healthy vs unhealthy peanut butter ingredients
When you buy peanut butter, check the ingredient list. Make sure they are whole ingredients, and you should be able to recognize what they are. If you have to google an ingredient that's in peanut butter, you probably shouldn't be eating it. It should contain only the following:
A little bit of salt is okay, and your muscles need sodium to function. Salt is also a preservative so that's okay for peanut to have salt in it, and it's necessary to keep it fresh.
Some peanut butter brands contain unhealthy ingredients such as:
- fully/partially hydrogenated oils
- mono or diglycerides
- soybean oil
- molasses or sugar (not a dealbreaker, and some natural peanut butter contains sugar)
These are texturing agents, preservatives, and trans fat. You do not want to be eating any of these ingredients. It seem that every processed food you buy has sugar in it, and it's not good for you. Sugar is one of the worst things to eat for reasons not discussed here, but there no need to put it in everything, especially peanut butter.
These non-natural peanut butter - they will dilute it with cottonseed oil or rapeseed (???). Rapeseed oil is bad stuff, and it's toxic in large quantities because it has high levels of erucic acid. Erucic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid that's present in certain seed-bearing plants. Erucic acid causes myocardial lipidosis, which is the accumilation of fat in the heart. Why do they put this garbage in peanut butter? Maybe you should ask Jiff or Peter Pan; I wish I knew. It's probably a cheap additive they can dilute the peanut butter with so they can sell less actual peanut butter per can.
The dangers of trans fat are well known, and we won't go into that here but you get the idea. Why they still put it in anything, even in small quantities is a question that needs answering. If the can says 0 grams trans fat, most people think it has no trans fat, but that per serving, and if you eat the whole can, you are getting lots of artery clogging trans fat.
These are all good reasons why you should only buy all natural peanut butter. Just because regular peanut butter is less runny and easier to spread is not worth consuming these harmful ingredients.