Peanut butter and banana. Peanut butter on toast with cinnamon. Peanut butter and chocolate (obviously). Peanut butter in your smoothie, on your oatmeal, and by the spoonful! Peanut butter tastes delicious just about any time of day. Plus, it offers a dose of protein and healthy unsaturated fats to satiate hunger, so keeping a jar (or three) in your kitchen can help you maintain a healthy weight.
But you might want to take a close look at your jar to make sure it’s really healthy. Turn your jar around and read the list of ingredients. It shouldn’t take you very long — the very first one should be peanuts (preferably organic). That should be it. One ingredient. If it has two ingredients, the second should be salt. Not sugar. Not corn syrup solids. Not hydrogenated vegetable oil. Not mono- and diglycerides.
Popular peanut butter companies you grew up with often contain these extra and not-so-healthy ingredients. You may not even realize sugar is lurking in your jar! Here you are, trying to cut back on sugar by eating more protein, and it’s right there hidden in your breakfast.
Stephanie Ferrari, a registered dietitian, says that eating sugar just makes you crave it more, which is part of the reason you may be addicted to your peanut butter and to other sugary foods. If you’re eating tons of sugar, it could be the reason you’re gaining or not losing weight. Who knew that little bit of sugar in your PB could have such a big impact on your health?!
Aside from sugar, although you do need the healthy unsaturated fats found in nuts, you definitely don’t need the unhealthy trans fat found in hydrogenated oils. They’re added to nut butters to prevent the natural oil separation that occurs, but giving your jar a good stir will fix that issue, or keep yours in the fridge.
The next time you pick up a jar of peanut butter — or any nut butter, for that matter — make sure to read the list of ingredients first. Go for mostly nuts, but ones made with cinnamon, maple syrup, or flax meal get a thumbs up, too! Or if you’re feeling really inspired, make your own nut butter at home — all you need is a food processor.