Peanut butter is a popular American food. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make and are considered a treat by many people, especially children. However, you sometimes hear health recommendations to stop eating it, so the question is whether all brands of peanut better are created equal.
The Nutrients in Peanut Butter
Peanut butter in its purest form is a nutritious food. It contains high levels of monounsaturated fats, which are known as a healthier form of fat. When you eat peanut butter, you also benefit from a good amount of magnesium, fiber, protein, folate and vitamins B3 and E.
Ingredients to Look for in Peanut Butter
Peanut butter can be healthy for you or it can be one of the unhealthier foods to eat on a daily basis. The difference lies in the particular brand you choose and how it was processed. Some brands of peanut butter contain salt, sugar, saturated fats and preservatives.
Peanut butter is a popular food and is, therefore, produced by big companies in large amounts. Preservatives are sometimes added so that the product can sit longer on grocery store shelves without spoiling. Salt, sugar and unhealthy fats may be added to enhance the taste.
If your goal is to enjoy the nutrition of peanut butter without the unhealthy ingredients, be sure to read ingredient labels. Look for natural or organic products that do not contain unwanted ingredients. It is possible to enjoy peanut butter in its purest form with just a bit of salt. This may be a transition for your taste buds if you are used to varieties with enhancing ingredients. But over time, your taste buds will very likely adjust.
Peanut Butter Processing
Another important factor in choosing peanut butter is how the product was processed. Roasted peanuts contain less nutrition than raw peanuts. Additionally, if the peanut butter was made using a high amount of heat, this has a tendency to destroy important nutrients. For maximum nutrition, look for peanut butter made from raw nuts and prepared in a cold-press process.
Where to Find Healthy Peanut Butter
You can find healthier varieties of peanut butter in health food stores or grocery stores with a natural food section. They come in both chunky and smooth varieties and sometimes cost more.
Some healthier peanut butter varieties also combine a variety of nuts such as almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews into one nut butter. This may be a desirable alternative since you're giving up the usual ingredients generally found in the more commercial brands of peanut butter, such as salt, sugars and saturated fats. Some of the more nutritious peanut butter brands available also include ingredients such as flax seed, flax seed oil and wheat germ.
You can continue to enjoy peanut butter and benefit from its nutrients. Just look for the healthier varieties that offer you all of the nutrients without the added unwanted ingredients and preservatives. Be sure to also check for whether or not the particular brand was processed using excessive heat.