According to the National Peanut Board, the average American eats about three pounds of peanut butter each year, totaling about 700 million pounds nation-wide! The good news is that peanut butter is more than just a tasty sidekick for jam and bread. Nutritionally speaking, it has a whole lot going for it.
Peanut butter is a great source of unsaturated fats and vegetarian protein; over 80 percent of the fats found in peanut butter are unsaturated, 50 percent being monounsaturated fats that can help cut bad cholesterol (LDL). Also, peanuts contain important B vitamins, potassium and resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant known to have cancer fighting properties. However, wholesome as it may be, moderation is the rule of thumb when it comes to enjoying peanut butter because some brands can be high in calories.
Browse your grocery store aisle and you’ll find all kinds of peanut butters to choose from, among them reduced-fat options that, at first glance, may seem healthier — but that's not necessarily the case. Check the amount of carbohydrates on the nutrition label, because less fat sometimes comes with not-so-healthy trade-offs, such as added salt and sugar. Less is definitely more, so be sure to compare brands and opt for those with the fewest ingredients and additives. Here are some great choices:
Skippy’s Natural Peanut Butter comes in three types: Creamy, Super Chunk, and Creamy Natural with Honey. None of these have an oily layer that needs stirring, nor do they use artificial flavors or preservatives. Spread some on apple slices for a delicious taste and nice fiber boost.
For peanuts with health perks, try Jif Omega-3 Peanut Butter with DHA and EPA, containing tasteless, odorless fish oils that promote heart and brain health. For a grown-up peanut treat, combine some Jif peanut butter, sesame oil and shirataki noodles!
Weighing in at only 100 calories and 2.5 grams of fat in 2 tablespoons, Better’n Peanut Butter is a lighter variety that’s fantastic alone. It also blends easily, which makes it great for peanut butter smoothies, peanut butter pie or even pea-nutty yogurt.
Naturally More is peanut butter with a big plus — namely, wheat germ, flax seeds, cane sugar, egg whites, honey and flax oil. Flaxseed is a super-healthy ingredient containing lignans, a phytonutrient with important disease-preventing properties. Just one 2-tablespoon serving contains 169 calories, 4.1grams of omega-3 fats, zero trans-fat and a whopping 10 grams of protein, making it a terrific choice for vegetarians.
Love the taste of peanut butter but hate the fat? Bell Plantation’s PB2 peanut butter has all of the water and oil taken out, leaving a fine powder of dry-roasted peanuts flavored with a hint of sugar and salt. Just mix with water and eat. Choose from regular peanut butter or (we really love this) chocolate peanut butter for an utterly amazing peanut butter and banana sandwich!
Peanut butter fans may also want to branch out and try some other types of nut butter. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, for example, has a subtly sweet and mild flavor, and it packs some extra calcium, too. Maranatha’s Cashew Butter is creamier than other nut butters given its higher oil content, and this makes it especially good for cooking and baking. Other nut butters worth checking out are Kettle Brand Hazelnut Butter and Fasatachi Roasted Pistachio Butter.