Peanut butter, for many people, is one of those foods that we love but are never quite sure whether it is good for us or not.
Although it contains a fair few calories per serving (around 200 calories per 2 tablespoons/32g) it is a well balanced nutritional snack. Some brands can provide us with up to 9g of Protein - helping to keep muscle tissues strong and promoting immune function, 4-8g of carbohydrates and 14-17g of fat.
When you arrive at the PB aisle in the supermarket, you are usually presented with a fairly large variety of peanut butters, but which one do you choose? You want to pick the healthiest, least processed PB but you don’t really want to spend the next hour reading through the long list of ingredients for each brand. Good news – you don’t have to. We have taken 6 well- known Peanut butter brands and researched their ingredients and nutritional content for you to save you time on your next shopping trip.
Ingredients to look out for…
Hydrogenated vegetable oil (AKA Trans Fats)
Hydrogenated oil is oil in which the essential fatty acids have been converted to a different form chemically, which has several effects.
Longer shelf life and will not go rancid as quickly as untreated oils
Higher melting point
The chemical structure is changed, which scientists in the 1990s began to realize could result in negative health effects.
The molecules in these Hydrogenated oils are now closer to cellulose or plastic than to oil (only one molecule away from being plastic). When eating anything containing this thick material, your blood becomes thicker and more viscous too and the heart now has to work so much harder to pump blood throughout the system.
As you can imagine, this thicker blood with this gummy substance flowing with it can easily lodge in the arteries and build up the arterial plaque which can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems.
Partially Hydrogenated Vs Fully Hydrogenated
A partially hydrogenated oil is semi-solid. Being partially hydrogenated means it’s also only partially saturated. The remaining unsaturated oils are chemically converted to health-damaging trans fats.
A fully hydrogenated oil, on the other hand, is a more solid, waxy substance that’s harder to work with. Such fats are often blended with other oils to make them easier to mix into various processed foods. However, the most important characteristic of a fully hydrogenated oil is that it is fully saturated and thus contains virtually no trans fat.
A thick, dark brown syrup obtained from raw sugar during the refining process, a version of which is used in baking.
Stabilizer E471 (AKA mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids)
A food additive used as an emulsifier.
These synthetic fats are produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids, from either plant or animal origin. E471 is generally a mixture of several products, and its composition is similar to partially digested natural fat. Although this isn't an ingredient detrimental to your health, it is another added ingredient that you won't find in more natural Peanut Butters.
There are hundreds of peanut butters out there so to choose the healthiest option on your next shopping trip, look for the brands with the least ingredients - try for 100% peanut brands such as Meridian.