You may recall from childhood which peanut butter your choosy mom selected, but what toast topper do you pick for your family? From natural peanut butters to the classic spreads to the new powdered varieties, this guide will help you choose the perfect peanut butter for your family. Spoiler alert: It all comes down to their ingredients. A quick glance at the jar reveals some peanut butters contain a dozen ingredients and others just a few. The best peanut butters contain just non-GMO peanuts, responsibly sourced Malaysian palm oil, a dash of natural sweeteners and salt.
Is peanut butter nutritious?
Yes! Peanut butter is packed with protein. Many varieties contain seven grams of protein per a two tablespoon serving. That is about one-third the daily requirement for your average eight-year-old. Peanut butters also contain brain-supporting saturated fat. While we once believed saturated fats were to be avoided at all costs, we’ve since learned the truth: Saturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet. Including peanut butter in your diet may also help manage your weight by helping you feel full. In an International Journal of Obesity weight-loss study, people who regularly ate peanut butter lost an average of nine pounds over an 18-month span.
The one exception: This peanut butter isn’t good for you
Some peanut butters still contain partially hydrogenated oils. These are significant sources of harmful trans fats and should be avoided. Look for peanut butters made with Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil instead of hydrogenated soybean or canola (rapeseed) oil. In the United States, most food manufacturers demand natural Malaysian palm oil because of its premium quality and environmental friendliness.
Natural peanut butters versus the classic spread
You can’t go wrong when you choose natural ingredients. Bargain peanut butter spreads contain fillers such as soy protein concentrate as well as high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. Pass those up for natural or organic peanut butters which contain simpler ingredients such as non-GMO peanuts and natural, healthy oils. Favorite brands include Smart Balance, Justin’s and Peanut Butter and Co.
But don’t you have to stir natural peanut butters?
While many natural peanut butters do need to be stirred each use — the oils separate and float to the top — there are natural, no-stir and less-stir peanut butter varieties available. These often contain non-GMO Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil which helps stabilize the spread.
What about powdered peanut butter?
The latest trend is peanut powder. You mix this with water to make a peanut paste. The powdered variety is more expensive per serving than other peanut butters, and you miss out on the healthy fats. Consider this an option when camping or baking rich treats.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.