Just one small tablespoon of peanut butter is a nutrition power-house full of heart-protecting unsaturated oils, protein, essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, energy-inducing B vitamins and skin lovin’ antioxidant vitamin E. This nutty delight is rich in resveratrol, a compound also found in red wine, that may reduce LDL (ie “bad” cholesterol) and damage to blood vessels. PB is nutrient dense, but also calorically dense due to the oils. While they are healthy oils, they are still oil, and oil = calories. While I’d wish nothing more than to eat an entire jar of peanut butter, best to keep it to 1-2 tablespoons (~90-100 calories per tablespoon).
PB is a great alternative to animal protein because it A) is less expensive B) will not spoil as quickly C) is already made so no work there. Bammm, take that meat.
Peanut Butter Is Not Created Equal:
Ignore label claims like “all natural” and “reduced fat/sugar.” Go straight to the ingredient list. You should only see 1-2 ingredients: roasted peanuts, salt. Many brands are starting to make more natural versions, but many peanut butters still have high fructose corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated oils and stabilizers to keep the PB sweet and the oils emulsified, or mixed in. Even some of the healthier brands, like Smart Balance add evaporated cane juice (fancy wording for sugar) to their PB. If you get the true natural peanut butter, the oil will surface at the top, so make sure to mix well and store it upside down if you don’t want to be stuck with rock solid nuts at the bottom of the jar.
Let’s compare the ingredients of 3 different products: Jif Creamy, Jif Reduced- Fat, Jif “Natural”
It’s got hydrogenated oil (aka trans fat) and sugar.
When one bad thing is reduced, something else is added in its place.What’s corn syrup solids + soy protein doing in PB? Plus it’s still got a fair amount of total and trans fat.
It’s better than the creamy and reduced fat kinds because it has no trans fat, but it’s still got added sugar and oil.
Natural Just Not Working ? If you tried the true all-natural kind and miss the sweetness of classic Skippy, drizzle on a few drops of honey, maple syrup or agave. YOU control the amount of sugar.
Crunchy vs smooth? No difference in nutrition value. Leave that to the taste buds.
Favorite brands? Trader Joe’s and Brad’s Organic. My true favorite is Whole Foods or nut stores where you can grind your own peanut butter. Kids love it. Steer Clear: Goober PB + Jelly (it’s really not hard to mix them separately, they don’t need to come in same container), anything with corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or honey roasted varieties.
Jif or Skippy? Ah, the age old question. My answer: neither. Nutritionally, they’re pretty equivalent. Both their creamy and reduced fat have trans fat and other additives that I would avoid. If you insist on staying loyal to these brands, the best bet is their natural versions, though they still have added sugar.
More Than Just Jelly’s Side Kick On Bread:
Because of food allergies and nut-free schools, PB has taken a back seat. But, maximize its use during the weekend and out of school hours. It’s more versatile than you think – perfect for snacks, savory dishes, and baking:
- Add teaspoon to plain Greek yogurt, smoothie or oatmeal to add flavor instead of using honey or sugar
- Mix into noodle dish or use in salad dressing (Whole Foods and Jif.com has some good recipes)
- Perfect snack with green apple, banana, baby carrots, celery – Ants On Logs are fun for kids to make
- Eat on the go – look out individual packets. Great for family vacations and long car rides
- Spread onto warm whole wheat bread, toast, bagel or English Muffin, crush fresh berries or thin slices apples or banana instead of jelly
- Peanut butter dessert – chocolate earth balls – fun to make with kids because it can be super hands-on