Is Peanut Butter As Healthy As You Think?
When I was growing up in the 70s, the United States saw peanut butter as the solution for farmers’ money issues, and the nutritional cure for all grade school kids. Fast forward to today and nut butters are not what they used to be, but are they better?
In the 70’s, Jif and Skippy were the two leading brands. Two tbs. of Jif creamy has 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar and 130 mg of sodium. Skippy contains 190 calories, 7g. Protein, 3G sugar, and 170 mg if sodium.
Be aware that if peanut butters claim to be low salt or low calories, they often boost taste by adding oils; or for low-calories, they might load on the salt. Read the labels.
Now the aisles are bulging with alternative nut butters, flavored peanut butters, flavored almond, hazelnut and other nut butters. There is even a powdered variety called PB2. It’s made by slow-roasting and pressing peanuts to remove 85% of the oil. You mix two tablespoons of powder with one tablespoon of water and stir. It results in a creamy peanut butter for just 50 calories, but the same amount of protein as regular peanut butter. Jif and Peter Pan have whipped peanut butter by adding air, but the process drops the protein to 5 grams.
Almond butter has less saturated fat and more vitamin E, magnesium, iron and copper versus traditional peanut butter, but the cost can be double that of standard peanut butters.
Soy butter is made from roasted or toasted soy-beans that are blended with soy or palm oil, sugar and salt. It does not taste like peanut butter, but may be okay for people with nut allergies.
To try and attract younger eaters, they mix peanut butter with jelly in the same jar, or they add chocolate to the blend. This obviously increases calories and sugars.
Nutella has won a huge market share of the nut market. It’s loaded with 220 calories, 2g protein, 30mg sodium, and 21g sugar but they can hardly keep it on the shelf!
When choosing what’s best for your family, read the nutrition label, serving size and ingredient list. If your kids are young, start them on unsalted or unsweetened brands. They won’t know to expect something else. Be mindful of moderation in serving size, but it can be a healthy way to include healthy fat in your families’ diet.