Wherever you shop, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Wal-mart, you are going to find that in whatever aisle peanut butter is sold, there are natural peanut butter brands and conventional, non-natural brands. How do you decide which is better for you? One would assume the answer to be straightforward, that of course natural peanut butter is more healthy. But let’s go over the similarities and differences between the two, so you can make an informed purchase.
Peanut Butter Similarities
Per serving, both natural and non-natural peanut butter are going to be about 190 calories. So for the purpose of dieting, just go with whichever one is cheaper, and your taste preference.
Also, the FDA requires that in order for a product to be labeled ‘Peanut Butter’, it must contain 90% peanuts. Additionally, the remaining 10% can only consist of salt, sweeteners, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. If a peanut butter includes palm oil as an ingredient, it is then a ‘Peanut Butter Spread’. Both types of peanut butter meet these minimum requirements.
Differences In Natural and Non-Natural
Natural peanut butter is very often just peanuts. Though it sometimes contains added salt, mostly it’s just the one ingredient. This simplicity comes at a cost, however. Shelf life for natural peanut butter is shorter than its counterpart. Also, as the natural peanut butter sits, the oils separate, and must be sufficiently mixed back in with the solids before you eat it. Natural peanut butter is also much grainier, so you aren’t going to find a ‘smooth’ variation without additional ingredients.
Non-natural, or conventional peanut butter, can contain salt, sugars, and hydrogenated vegetable oils to improve taste and to act as preservatives. You will be able to find smooth and chunky versions of this kind of peanut butter.
How do the different options stack up when it comes to nutrition? Taking a closer look at label for each type of peanut butter might affect which version you choose to keep in your pantry.
Natural Peanut Butter
In one serving, or two tablespoons, there are typically 16g of total fat, 2g of saturated fat, 0mg of sodium, 1g of sugar, and 8g of protein.
Non-natural Peanut Butter
In one serving, or two tablespoons, there are typically 16g of total fat, 3g of saturated fat, 5mg of sodium, 3g of sugar, and 7g of protein.
So what does all of this mean for you? That depends on what you are looking for. If you are just counting calories, then pick whatever you like. If you are trying to bulk up, you want to eat the choice with more protein, so natural peanut butter is for you. For those trying to cut down on salt for blood pressure problems or overall health, again, go with the natural peanut butter brands. Looking to achieve the opposite effect for health? Conventional is the way to go.
Overall, natural peanut butter is going to be better for you. However, for the average consumer that uses peanut butter on a more occasional schedule, it’s not going to have a major impact on your health either way, so get your favorite kind! JIF and Smuckers both have a natural peanut butter product, for widely available suggestions. Skippy is an excellent brand for conventional peanut butter, with different types to try.
Now, you can go out and use your knowledge of everything peanut butter to buy the option that’s right for you.