About 65% of Americans own an American flag. About 90% of Americans households have peanut butter somewhere in the house. It’s official. Loving peanut butter is now more American than flying the flag. All jokes aside, it seems that most of us aren’t going to give up peanut butter anytime soon. So might as well find something that isn’t going to give us diabetes.
Though most peanut butters have all kinds of extra junk added in to them, there are healthy options. Let’s talk about how to sniff them out, so you can go back to making PB&J, guilt free.
How to Choose a Healthy Peanut Butter – Buying Guide
Let’s start talking about America’s favorite condiment. We’ll show you how to find a peanut butter you can lick off the spoon without horrible health effects.
Ingredients: Get a Peanut Butter That’s All-Natural and Almost All Peanuts
Thinking about it logically, peanut butter is just peanuts ground into paste–which shouldn’t be unhealthy. What’s unhealthy are the extra ingredients: namely sugars and hydrogenated oils. Steer clear of these.
Hydrogenation, by the way, is the chemical process that turns liquid vegetable oils into solid fat. Just remember that hydrogenated oils are bad. They’re heavy in trans fats, which inflame the body and increase bad cholesterol. And yet, they’re often used in peanut butters as stabilizers.
A sure-fire way to avoid hydrogenated oils is to opt for all-natural PB. Without the stabilizer, all-natural PB may separate a bit–but as long as you mix up the jar and store it upside down in the fridge, it won’t give you much trouble.
The healthiest peanut butters contain just one ingredient: peanuts. The second healthiest contain two: peanuts and salt. If possible, opt for these. Here’s another word to the wise: in order for a concoction to be labeled peanut butter, it needs to be 90% peanuts. Otherwise, it’s called “peanut butter spread.” Be extra weary of spreads.
Don’t Go for Fat-Free; They’re All Sugar
First off, the fat in pure peanut butter is actually healthy. Half of it is oleic acid, which is a healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and enhance mood. Plus, it lightens of effects of aging, including Alzheimer’s. Not a bad deal.
On the other hand, fat-free peanut butters are usually full of sugar. After all, fat is flavor–so after you take fat out, you have to substitute it with something else to make the PB taste good, right? And that something is sugar.
Chunky or Smooth: Nutritionally, There’s No Difference
Nutritionally speaking, chunky and smooth peanut butters aren’t that different. They’ve got the same amount of calories, fat, and carbs. If you want to get technical, crunchy has got a touch more fiber and may contain less sodium (partly because the nuts take up more room). But the bottom line is–you don’t have to switch over to one or the other because of health reasons.
It’s all a matter of personal taste.
Flavored Peanut Butters: Not as Healthy, but If You Must Have Them, Go for Organic or All-Natural
Generally speaking, flavored peanut butters have extra sugar and extra calories. If you’re watching your waistline, steer clear. However, if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, there are options with as little processed junk as possible. Just remember: the shorter the ingredients list, the healthier the PB. If you can find something organic or all-natural, all the better.
Chocolate blends, by the way, are great on bread and bananas—think Nutella, but healthier. Honey PB has some extra sweetness. Fruits and berries add some freshness and keep the PB from feeling too dry; it’s like you’ve got your entire PB&J sandwich in a single jar.
Top 10 Best Healthy Peanut Butters to Buy Online
Enough with all the technicalities. Let’s look at ten peanut butters are tasty and pretty good for you.
10. Nuts ‘N More High Protein Chocolate Maple Pretzel Peanut Butter
Highly Addictive Flavor, but Healthy in Moderation
This has more ingredients than we’d like (including xylitol, a natural–possibly healthy–sweetner), and it’s technically a spread, but it’s so good we couldn’t resist. The peanut butter is so creamy, but the pretzels give it a crunch and slight saltiness–which works well with the chocolate-maple. You can have it straight out of the jar, or spread it over fruits or toast. Basically, it’s addicting.
You get a generous 2 tbsp serving, which has, surprisingly, only 17% of your DV of fat, 1% of cholesterol and 3% of carbs–perfect for a low-carb diet. There’s also only 2g of sugar, while you get 22% of protein (most of which comes from the whey protein isolate). Your biggest fear should be going over the serving size, so promise us you’ll exercise some self-control.
9. Wild Friends Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter (Pack of 6)
A Bit of Fruit, a Hint of Spice, a Delectable Peanut Butter
Let’s get what we don’t love out of the way–this PB’s got extra peanut oil added in, as well as some sugar. And the texture is all over the place. Unrefrigerated, it’s kind of runny and oozes out of sandwiches; refrigerated, it’s thick and hard to spread. The best way to eat this may be to refrigerate first, and then to let it sit a bit. (But that, of course, is a pain.)
What we do love: You get 7 g of protein and 11% of your DV of fiber every two tbsps, so it fills you up. It tastes amazing. We mean, the jar has raisins throughout. And there’s just a hint of cinnamon–so you get zest, but can still taste your good old peanut butter.
8. HomePlate Peanut Butter, Variety Pack (Pack of 6)
Sample All the Flavors, All Equally Delicious
What is more American than peanut butter and baseball? HomePlate’s a hit with soccer moms and athletes alike, and it’s no surprise; 2 tbsp provides just 12 g of fat, as well as bits of sodium, carbs, and fiber. There’s also 8g of sugar and 6g of protein. That adds up to a lot of energy. The ingredients are simple: peanuts, salt, cane sugar, and palm fruit oil. All the flavors are delicious: the creamy is smooth, the honey is subtly sweet, and the crunchy’s got just enough bite.
About the oil–it was probably added as a stabilizer, since these PBs don’t separate. Palm oil is non-hydrogenated, packed with nutrients, and heart-healthy. If there’s any concerns around this oil, it’s that harvesting leaves a huge carbon footprint, though HomePlate is RSPO-approved.
7. Fix & Fogg Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter
Chocolaty, with Just Three Listed Ingredients
You get three listed ingredients: peanuts, dark chocolate, and sea salt. A tbsp gives you 9% of fat, 8% of protein, 1% of carbs, 0% of cholesterol and sodium and sugar. Hard to believe it’ll taste good, right? But it does taste good. It’s not overly sweet, but it is super chocolaty. That’s why it goes great on any kind of fruit, berry, or desert.
It’s also super chunky. Whether you hate or love the pieces of nuts is, of course, a matter of personal taste. And it’s compliant with the keto diet.
6. Peanut Butter & Co. Top Sellers Pack (Pack of 4)
Peanuty and Chocolaty Goodness That’s All-Natural
Let’s clear this up right away. There’s dried cane syrup and palm fruit oil in all of these. Again, these won’t hurt you and the ingredients are all natural, but this pack’s not going to appeal to PB purists. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, though, all the flavors will give you your fix in the healthiest way possible (no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no gluten, and vegan).
Smooth Operator is creamy and fresh; Crunch Time is jam-packed with peanut pieces; White Chocolate Wonderful is vanilla-ey and addictive as candy; Dark Chocolate Dreams is thick, full of cocoa, and is so good with bananas, it made our jaws drop.
5. Teddie All Natural Peanut Butter, Smooth (Pack of 3)
The Smoothest Natural Peanut Butter
There’s only two ingredients–peanuts and salt–and the PB tastes like… peanuts. Just make sure you stir well, because the salt does settle at the bottom (and then you’re left with a salty mess after you finish 2/3 of the jar). While Teddie’s is not 100% smooth, it’s a lot creamier than other natural peanut butters, with just a bit of texture. If you want full-out crunch, though, Teddie’s has also got a popular Super Chunky version.
Now, at room temperature, Teddie’s can seem a little runny–but some think it’s easier to spread and blend into desserts. So if you want it thin, just stick it in your cupboard, where it’ll last a few weeks before going rancid. If you like your PB firmer, though, put it in the fridge.
4. Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter Creamy (Pack of 2)
Rich, Fresh-Tasting Organic Peanut Butter
Who doesn’t know Smucker’s? It’s pretty much childhood in a jar. This particular jar is also over 99% peanuts, with just a touch of salt. But even though there’s no added sugar, the PB’s got a hint of sweetness, which comes straight from the harvested peanuts. And it tastes so fresh, it’s a prime ingredient in Ghanaian peanut soup (according to a couple of raving reviews).
It’s labeled as creamy, but it’s not 100% smooth. Even after stirring, there’s still a bit of grit to it–but subtle enough that even creamy-devotees don’t seem to mind.
3. Picot Productions Pic’s Crunchy Peanut Butter
High-Oleic Peanuts in an Easy-to-Stir Jar
This butter is 99% peanuts and 1% salt. It’s made from high-oleic Australian peanuts, which are apparently more magical than normal peanuts. They’re chock full of heart-healthy oils, which also helps them taste fresher for longer. The texture’s thick, though, which packs in flavor, but doesn’t help the PB cling to veggie sticks. And, like all natural peanut butters, it separates.
But Pic’s knows that separation is inevitable–that’s why they’ve given you a stout jar, so you can stir everything up. Then store it upside down, and you’ll never have to stir again.
2. Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters Honey Chipotle Peanut Butter
Versatile Flavor with a Subtle Kick
We can’t be the only ones that slather peanut butter over cheese, vegetable sticks, and chicken wings, right? (It’s really good–we promise.) All peanut butter is versatile, but this one bends over backwards. It’s got the perfect blend of spicy and sweet, with a subtle crunch–it’s great in cookies or over ice cream, and it’s also great over meats. Kind of feels like you’re eating Thai, actually.
There’s four listed ingredients: peanuts, honey powder, chipotle chilies, and salt. One tablespoon packs just 8% of your DV of fat, 8% of fiber, and some protein. There’s also less than 1g of sugar per tablespoon (a plus!), but in return, you get 160 mg of sodium (about 7% of your DV). For the adventurous, Eliot’s has got all kinds of funky flavors, so feel free to check them out.
1. Crazy Richard’s 100% Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
One Ingredient: Peanuts
It does exist, the holy grail of peanut butters–made exclusively of peanuts. Crazy Richard’s tastes fresh, has low carbs, zero sodium, a gram of sugar, and is packed with good, nutty protein. You need to give it a good stirring when you first get it–until it’s smooth and runny–then refrigerate (upside down, so you don’t need to stir as much) to firm it up.
It’s creamy, but a little thinner than other PBs. That’s a plus for us–we think it’s easy to blend into drinks and desserts, and perfect for spreading on bread and fruits. And Richard’s is so natural, it’s perfect for feeding your dog–but you don’t get to laugh because the PB won’t stick in globs to the roof of his mouth.
We’re so used to thinking that anything addictive must be bad for us. But the right peanut butter, eaten in moderation, is almost a super-food, packed with healthy fats and protein. Keep an eye on the ingredients list, get something natural, and you, too, can start dishing PB out, guilt-free–into sandwiches, into your kids’ lunchboxes, and into your dog’s mouth. Bon appetit.
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