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Comparing Natural Peanut Butter Brands

Exactly how does one choose “natural” peanut butter? Are trans fats and hydrogenated oils a health issue? Are you looking for less sugar, healthier choices, more flavor?

Peanut butter is a healthy and nutritious choice. It is is a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin, phosphorus and magnesium.

Recent research has suggested a link between trans fats and increased LDL-cholesterol levels. Although the amount of trans fats even in regular peanut butter is negligible, the fat in peanut butter is about 80% unsaturated fat. This is the <i>good</i> fat that is reported to actually lower LDL-cholesterol. Adding fat or oils to peanut butter is simply unnecessary, there’s plenty of naturally occurring oils in peanut butter.

I can also do without the sugar. If I want something sweet with my peanut butter I’ll have jam or honey; even old fashioned maple syrup.

Smart Balance Omega Peanut Butter has added flax oil for those healthy Omega 3’s and a dab of molasses for flavor if you like your peanut butter sweet. Flax Seed Oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, fiber, protein, and zinc . This is all good stuff, so if a little flax oil marked your natural peanut butter nice and smooth with no need to stir, that’s a good thing; right? The Smart Balance web site also has printable coupons, which is a bonus in these rough economic times.

Skippy has recently added a “natural” to their peanut butter line. Another sweet butter, their version contains sugar and added palm oil. The addition of refined sugar to this product takes it firmly out of the “natural” claim, in my opinion. Skippy adds the palm oil so that their consumers can avoid that “untidy” chore of stirring the separated peanut butter. Health authorities have been stating that palm oil promotes heart disease since 1970. I’ll stir. I really don’t need the palm oil in my peanut butter.

Now let’s talk Smucker’s. We’re all familiar with their jams and jellies, but did you even know they make peanut butter? I didn’t. When I tried their “natural” I was pleased. Peanuts and salt. Perfect ingredients for a “natural” peanut butter in my book. In fact, it tasted just like my all time favorite brand, Laura Scudder’s. Imagine my surprise when I went to their web site only to discover that Smucker’s has been making the Laura Scudder’s and Adam’s brands of natural peanut butter for over 20 years. No wonder it tastes so good!

You simply can’t beat peanuts and salt as a “natural” peanut butter, and Smucker’s has the added advantage of being organic, as well. There is, of course, the “untidy” business of oil separation with these brands, but Smucker’s sells a handy manual mixer that screws right onto the lid of the jars, (or if you’re thrifty like me, you’ll turn the jar upside down for a couple of days, give it a stir with a knife and then put it in the refrigerator to stop the separation).

I would be remiss if I neglected to add my new favorite brand of natural peanut butter; Winco fresh grind. Again, peanuts and salt. It’s great. Push the button and your peanuts are ground right before your eyes. And no stirring, as the separation of oil from peanuts isn’t an issue with this method/brand since it doesn’t sit on the shelf long enough to separate before I use a pound or so.

So… just how “natural” do you want to get?

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