Shopping Tips for Peanut Butter, An All-American Favorite.
Very few people know what to look for when shopping for peanut butter. Actually, you will find a large number of popular brands displayed in any grocery store. Many of them contain unnecessary ingredients like sugar, oils & salt that not only drive up their calorie-count, but also turn them into more of a dessert than a nutritious snack option.
With countless peanut butter brands available out there, one always gets confused. Don’t you think a checklist would be very handy?
So, I have researched a lot and put together all the necessary information on how to compare & distinguish one peanut butter brand from the other, and determine which one to buy.
How to Select the Healthiest Peanut Butter?
The best way is to check the ingredient list before you buy. Read on here to learn what to see in the ingredient list to help you choose the best quality, healthiest peanut butter.
Thumb Rule: Make sure it contains only peanuts, without the needless extras such as oils, sugar and salt. Look for the varieties that are as close to 100% peanuts as possible, with a very few or no other ingredients.
Be wary of the terms like “natural,” which can be just a marketing gimmick.
Here is my checklist of 5 things that you should look into while buying Peanut Butter:
As in case of many other processed foods, food manufacturers add sugar to peanut butter to make it sweet. Last week I was at a grocery store looking for a particular brand of peanut butter that has been growing in popularity in recent years. I was stunned at seeing that a majority of the brands (even the brands labeled as being “natural”) contained added sugar.
I’m sure you know the health hazards caused by the added sugar. It’s a major cause behind heart problems, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and in fact most other major chronic diseases. And the culprits are not only candy & donuts. An alarming amount of the sugar in the diet of our times is snuck in as an additive to ready foods (such as peanut butter!).
Tip: If you like a little sweet, try adding a little organic honey to the peanut butter dishes.
Some companies add hydrogenated oils or palm oils, which means the peanut butter you buy contains unhealthy trans fats and saturated fats. You don’t need another lecture that these two fat types can cause many health problems such as heart disease.
Caution: Be wary of the products, which are labeled as ‘reduced fat’ or ‘low fat’, they may be added with more sugar to make them taste good.
Many companies add salt to peanut butter just to enhance flavor. Salted peanut butter can contain from 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon.
So, if are advised by your doctor to cut down on your sodium intake, and you eat peanut butter quite often, opt for unsalted varieties. And if you make peanut butter at home, use unsalted peanuts.
Peanuts grow underground, best in hot climates – where they tend to be infected by fungi (mold) in humid conditions. This mold is a potential source of aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Whereas humans are quite resistant to the short-term effects of aflatoxins, but what can happen down the line is not exactly known at this point.
But there is some good news. As per one source, the processing of peanuts into peanut butter lowers the levels of aflatoxins by 89% (Source).
How To Select Peanut Butter With Lowest Amount of Aflatoxins?
The Consumers Union tested various peanut butter brands. It was found that the most well known brands have lowest concentrations of aflatoxins. (S
This is possibly due to the fact that the well known companies employ the most effective testing & best hygiene methods. On the other hand, fresh ground peanut butter available in the Super Markets had the highest aflatoxin levels.
Rule number 1: Always choose a kind that is produced by a reputed company. Keep in mind to stay clear of the bulk bins & “fresh ground” available in many natural health stores.
Rule number 2: And if you prefer to buy raw peanuts and make your own peanut butter at home, remember to check and discard any nuts that don’t look right. Moldy, shriveled, or discolored peanuts should not be used either for eating or making peanut butter.
Rule number 3: Store your nuts & grains in a dry, cool environment. To avoid rancidity, always refrigerate the peanut butter and freeze the nuts that you are not going to use right away.
Rule number 4: If you don’t eat a lot of peanut butter, buy the smaller sized jars.
If you can afford, opt for a certified organic peanut butter brand so as to avoid the ones containing more pesticides than you’d like.
Which peanut butter is best?
The Bottom Line: Check the ingredients label; look for one that lists peanuts as the first ingredient with a very few or no other ingredients.
And of course, you can always make it at your home, which assures that you know exactly what’s going inside.
Making your own peanut butter is incredibly easy
The basic recipe for peanut butter needs only – peanuts. In a high-speed food processor or blender, you simply have to add peanuts (you can roast them according to your taste) and blend until you get spreadable paste. You may even add a little cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, cinnamon, raisins, or dates to give it a flavor according to your taste.
(i) Some times pure peanut butter may separate into solid & liquid form. It’s normal. Just stir the contents thoroughly, and the consistency will return to normal.
(ii) Recently, different blends have come out in the market like coconut and peanut butter, or blends that include sunflower seeds or pumpkin, etc. These are tasty variations that you may try; but again, examine the labels to ensure that they don’t contain extra oils, salts or sugars.