Swap-out Sunday: Peanut Butter

Peanut butter may be off your radar lately because of food allergies, but if you do still enjoy some good old-fashioned PB (as I do on my oatmeal each morning), this post is for you.

Smooth peanut butter in the jar

I first heard the phrase “natural peanut butter” when I was in high school, circa 1999: one of the girls on my swim team mentioned she used only natural peanut butter in her sandwiches. I rolled my eyes at her hippy ways and thought, “what could be more natural than peanut butter?”

We may have woken up to the fact that Nutella is candy – not breakfast – but peanut butter manufacturers have managed to sneak ingredients into your jar of Skippy or Jif that make it easier to spread, sweeter, and saltier.

PB is one of those simple foods, like bread, that you think would be all innocence and wholesomeness. And, like bread, it gets my goat that companies can deviate so much from the standard without being called out on it.

Swap-out Sunday Challenge:

 

This week, swap out your regular peanut butter for a natural brand made just from peanuts.

 

Need convincing? Check out the ingredient comparison below. Keep in mind hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are artificially created and very unhealthy.

From Agriculture and Agri-food Canada:

“The trans fats produced during partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils are neither required nor beneficial for health, and their consumption has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. For these reasons, health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to trace amounts.”

There are only negative effects on your body to eating partially or fully hydrogenated fats.

The ingredients in peanut butter should read: Peanuts (or perhaps, “Roasted peanuts”).

Stay on the lookout for brands misrepresenting their products, like Skippy Natural, which still contains sugar, palm oil and salt. If the label says anything like “Light” or “Reduced calorie”, skip it – it’s likely just diluted with non-nutritive fillers like corn maltodextrin. The trade-off is that natural PB needs to be refrigerated and stirred (the natural oils will rise to the top) – but that’s a trade-off that’s worth it to me.

Banana with peanut butter

Compare if you dare

I don’t generally look at the Nutrition Facts table anymore, but in this case it’s helpful. Notice how the nutrient contents are slightly different – especially the sodium (salt) and saturated fat?

Natural peanut butter may taste bland at first, but that’s because you’re accustomed to added sugar and salt. I stuck out my first jar of the natural stuff, and by the time I hit the bottom I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Natural peanut butter ingredients* Kraft peanut butter ingredients Skippy peanut butter ingredients Jif peanut butter ingredients
Roasted peanuts.Per 2 Tbsp:

  • Calories: 200
  • Fat: 16 g (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans)
  • Sodium: 5 g
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Protein: 8 g

*Brands that have a truly natural peanut butter in their lineup include Natur (my favourite!), Kraft All Natural, Maranatha (Organic only), President’s Choice Blue Menu. You can also grind your own peanuts at some bulk food or health food stores.

Select roasted peanuts, soybean oil, corn maltodextrin, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed and rapeseed oil), salt, mono- and diglycerides.Per 2 Tbsp:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 16 g (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans)
  • Sodium: 120 mg
  • Sugars: 2 g
  • Protein: 6 g
Roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybeans and rapeseed) to prevent separation, salt.Per 2 Tbsp:

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 16 g (3 g saturated, 0 g trans)
  • Sodium: 150 mg
  • Sugars: 3 g
  • Protein: 7 g
Roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of: molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt.Per 2 Tbsp:

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 16 g (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans)
  • Sodium: 140 mg
  • Sugars: 3 g
  • Protein: 7 g

Plus, natural peanut butter melts better in your oatmeal. Oatmeal swirled with Peanut Butter & Blueberries

References and further reading:

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  1. […] swapping out regular peanut butter for the natural stuff, you knew what was coming next, right? You have to go all-in for a 100% natural sandwich filling: […]

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