Peanut butter is one of the most popular food products on the market, found on the shelves of pretty much every grocer around town. As a result, we are paralysed by choice with an extensive range of options and left scratching our head working out which one to buy.
Depending on how the peanut butter is made can make it a highly nutritious and protein rich snack option or a highly processed and unhealthy jar filled with nasties.
Here are the top five nasties to look out for when choosing your peanut butter:
Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
This is a chemical process whereby hydrogen is added to a liquid oil (an oil found in peanuts) to make them more solid. This is done to create a thicker texture as well as enhance the shelf life of the product. It also creates trans fats in the process which is highly detrimental to your health, your heart health in particular.
High Sodium Content
A little added salt is fine however many products go overboard. Excessive sodium in processed foods can cause high blood pressure and also heightens cravings. This makes it more difficult to control your appetite and you might find yourself scraping the bottom of the jar in no time. The daily sodium limit is 1500mg per day so to stay within this limit, choose a peanut butter that has under 100mg per serve. That’s two tablespoons, not half the jar!
This can be labeled as sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, agave, etc. Whilst some might be more natural than others, they are still calorie dense, offering little to no nutritional value and not necessary in a nut butter.
When you take something out, you have to replace it with something else and in this case it’s often starchy fillers such as corn starch and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat and flavour. Is this really a peanut butter anymore? I think not.
A Long Ingredient List
Aside from a little added salt to enhance the flavour and to prevent the oil from separating, the number one and only other ingredient should be peanuts.
One product I recommend in particular to my clients is Pics Peanut Butter who use Hi-Oleic Australian grown peanuts. These specific peanuts have a higher monounsaturated fat content than other peanut varieties. This type of fat has a favourable effect on cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and is a key part of an anti-inflammatory diet.