Peanut Butter is as American as chewing gum and has been part of the American cuisine since the turn of the 1900’s. Whether it is partnered simply with jelly on bread or toast, or just as a cooking ingredient in cakes and cookies, it is a favorite nationwide. Every American household has a couple of jars stocked in their food cupboards in the kitchens.

Health wise there have been some questions over whether peanut butter is actually good for you, as like most nut butters it is high in calories and fat. The upside of this spread is that it is full of nutrients and is a great source of protein, it also contains vitamins, fiber, phytochemicals and minerals.

A milestone for the peanut butter industry came in 2003, when the FDA stated that there was evidence that if you ate 1.5 ounces of most nuts a day (as part of a controlled diet), it could reduce the risk of heart or cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence peanut butter may help with other diseases, and on the positive side nuts are a source of resveratrol.

What You Should Look for in a Peanut Butter

However, not all peanut butters are the same, so how do you know which is the best to pick when you are out shopping?

Always look for the peanut butter that is most natural with the least number of additives such as sugar, salt or fat. Depending on what brand you select, you should check if any hydrogenated oils are added which could add trans fats into the spread. Nearly every brand adds salt into their peanut butters, so ensure you choose a low sodium brand.

JIF

JIF is a highly popular brand of peanut butter and is made from roasted peanuts with added brown sugar, molasses, fully hydrogenated rapeseed oil and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. A 2-tablespoon serving has 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.

There is a reduced-fat JIF peanut butter, but, to be honest, it contains the same number of calories as the regular option. Even though for the same serving as before there are 4 grams less fat. The reason for this is that there are 8 grams more carbohydrate in the spread due to extra sugar that’s added.

Smart Balance – Omega Natural Peanut Butter

This is a real healthy option from Smart Balance as it has added flax oil and no refined sugar or hydrogenated oils. It still has some saturated fat but this is fairly minimal. In addition to the flax oil, there is also palm fruit oil which adds a little saturated fat.

A 2-tablespoon serving has 200 calories and 17 grams of fat, and only 1 gram of sugar. This omega rich peanut butter actually has more calories than the standard JIF variety, but has no trans-fat whatsoever. In part two of our comparison of store bought peanut butters we look at even more varieties that are currently on the market and point out the good and bad in some favorite brands.