With all the different brands of nut butters out in the market, it can be incredibly difficult to try and choose a healthy one. Nut butter are a great source of fat and protein and are absolutely delicious and versatile. Peanut butter used to be the most common and only nut butter out in the market, until people with peanut allergies demanded other nut butters…and thankfully the industry responded! If you are a lifelong peanut butter fan (and I know I am!), I highly encourage you to venture out and try some other nut butters in the market as different nuts have different tastes and offer a different nutritional quality.
There are MANY brands and kinds out there, so it can absolutely be difficult and confusing to pick the best option. Here is my number one tip for choosing nut butters:
THERE SHOULD ONLY BE ONE OR TWO INGREDIENTS!!!!!!
….NOTHING LESS!!!! 😉
So for example, your peanut butter jar should only list one ingredient…PEANUTS..and maybe some salt. Almond butter should be almonds and perhaps some salt.
…etc with the other nut butters! 😉
Let’s take a look at a common brand and type many people eat:
Jif or Skippy peanut butter is a common household name that many people have grown up eating. Sadly, if we take a look at the ingredients we can see that there are various speculating ingredients. The one that is flagging red flags at me is the fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. THIS IS BAD!! Basically *in a nut shell * 😉 what this is, is a chemical process done by the industry to turn an unsaturated (good) fat, in this case the vegetable oil, into a saturated fat by the addition of hydrogens to every single carbon essentially making what was once a liquid turn sold at room temperature in order to solidify the peanut butter at room temperature. This is all saturated fat that is artery clogging and in the long run can put you at risk to develop heart disease.
Unfortunately, many brands label their nut butter as being “NATURAL.” However, “NATURAL” is an unregulated term and is often times used by food companies to lure people into thinking their product is healthy when it really is not.
Lets look at a common peanut butter that most people think is healthy:
Jif “NATURAL” peanut butter. This is probably somewhere in your cupboard, as I know I used to have countless jars of this sitting on my college desk for emergency snacking situations. However, if you turn the jar around and look at that ingredient list, here’s what you will find:
Definitely more than one ingredient…
in fact sugar is the second ingredient! *gasp!*
Palm oil…?! WHAT IS THAT!!!!
Let me start out by explaining that nuts already contain high levels of fat. So why would the food industry be adding more fat?! I’m wondering the same thing you are. Not to confuse you (or bore you!) with too much chemistry, however it is important to understand that palm oil contains a significant amount of saturated fat (i.e the bad artery clogging) and it has the ability to stabilize and cause solidification to occur in the peanut butter. This is ultimately why the jar says, “no need to stir.” It’s because of the palm oil inhibits the natural oils in the peanuts to separate. So pretty much the only difference between the “NATURAL” and the original Jif or skippy mentioned above is the fact that palm oil is naturally saturated while the vegetable oil had to go through the hydrogenation process.
Therefore, this means that if you follow my rule about nut butter containing one ingredient, you would have to make sure you stir it each time before you use since separation will occur because of the lack of saturated fat.
Take a closer look at the label and ingredients before you purchase your nut butter and happy fueling! 🙂