Peanut butter is a popular spread made with ground dry-roasted peanuts. It is generally served as a spread on bread, toast, or crackers and also used to make sandwiches. It is also used in a variety of breakfast dishes and desserts, like peanut-flavored granola, smoothies, crepes, cookies or brownies. It is a part of the family of other nut butter such as cashew butter and almond butter.
With all the variety in the market today, we gathered a few things that you should know before choosing your favorite peanut butter
As with many processed foods, food manufacturers use sugar to add sweetness and longer shelf life to food products. We are all familiar with the health problems caused by added sugar. It’s a primary culprit behind obesity, a heart condition, Alzheimer’s, and practically every other major chronic disease of our times. And it’s not found just in donuts and candy. A surprising amount of sugar within the modern diet is snuck in as an additive to foods.
But there is a way out! Look for brands that do not use refined or added sugar. If the ingredient list does not contain ‘sugar’ or sugar substitutes such as ‘maltose’ or ‘high fructose corn syrup’ – that’s the one you should be going for. Pure, unadulterated peanut butter contains all the health benefits that one should be getting from Peanut Butter!
Very often spreads are loaded with salt to add taste and preserve the freshness. While a slight bit of added salt is absolutely all right, some salted spreads can carry up to 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon!
If you use spreads often and need to scale back your sodium intake, search for unsalted versions. For those that contain salt, look for the sodium content in the nutrition chart.
While peanut butter contains a high concentration of heart-healthy fats i.e. the good kind of unsaturated fat, it also often contains a chunk of saturated fat from the added oils. Some spread brands use a high volume of fully hydrogenated oil, which has been linked to several health problems.
Look for a spread that does not contain any added oil. A sign of pure peanut butter is the layer of oil floating on top of the jar when you open it. This means that the natural oil of the peanut has separated due to the absence of any added hydrogenated oil. This natural oil can easily be mixed back in to give you a healthy and pure spread.
Here’s a nutty fact: peanuts don’t actually grow on trees or bushes. They grow underground.
Peanuts grow best in hot climates, which suggests they’re at heightened risk of containing aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are a gaggle of poisons that are produced by fungi in humid conditions. Other foods in danger of holding aflatoxins include corn, figs, cereals, cottonseed, and tree nuts.
So, how does one choose a spread with the least amount of aflatoxins?
Go with brands that are known for hygiene and quality. Simply choose a spread produced by a well-known company and one that contains only peanuts (and/or salt) as ingredients.
And as a side note, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found some evidence that certain plant compounds could also be ready to counteract the negative effects of aflatoxins.
5. Oil Separation
While we touched upon this previously, there are many myths that surround the oil that is often found floating over peanut butter. This oil is a good sign and signifies a natural quality of the peanut butter. The oil layer, while it may be thick, can easily be mixed back in to give a fresh and natural peanut butter.
This oil, in no way, means that the peanut butter is bad or old. It simply means that there is no added hydrogenated oil and that the product is natural and usually contains just a few ingredients.
Another reason to avoid peanut butter with added hydrogenated oil? Rapeseed, soybean, or vegetable oil are a number of the foremost commonly used and therefore the majority of those crops are genetically modified or grown using harmful pesticides.