Chef Eric Stein, MS RD CCE

Wellness Chef | Registered Dietitian
Certified Culinary Educator

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How Do I Choose The Best Peanut Butter

Posted: April 10, 2012 7:16 PM

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peanut-butter-201x300.jpgPeanut butter has long been a comfort food for many Americans. I know I love peanut butter, But have you ever wondered how to choose the best one? With hundreds of options on the market, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and misimformation. Is crunchy better than smooth? Should it be organic or natural? Which nut makes the healthiest butter?

Advertisers use words like "organic" and "natural" to try to grab your attention. This is one of the few times that those words really matter. Choosing nut butter that is organic means that the nuts were grown without artificial pesticides and follow the strict criteria established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, while organic is important, selecting a "natural" peanut butter can be just as beneficial.

Most nut butters on the market today have added sugar, sodium, hydrogenated oils and even high fructose corn syrup! By selecting a nut butter that is "natural", you are likely picking up a container of ground nuts without any other additives. Don't just take the advertisers word for it though, always check the ingredients to make sure the nut is the only one listed.

Natural nut butters will often have a layer of oil at the top of the jar. Don't be alarmed, those are just the natural oils separating since there are no added emulsifiers keeping it all together. Make sure to stir it all up when you open it. This will help make it smoother and keep you from having those hard chunks at the bottom of the jar later.

Now for the fun part! How do you choose the nut butter right for you and your diet needs? Most nuts and seeds have a considerable amount of mono- and poly-unsaturated fats as well as Vitamin E and protein. Nuts are also naturally cholesterol free and high in fiber. Almond, cashew, walnut, sunflower seed and soy nut butters are the most commonly found butters on the market, so next time you are at the market pick one up and try a variety to find the one you like most.

5 Simple Steps to Making the Best Choice:
1. Select only containers that read "natural" on the front label. 2. Check the ingredients. Look for whole nuts and natural sugars. 3. Try out other nut and seed butters. They all have health benefits. 4. Avoid nut butters that contain artificial flavors and hydrogenated oils. 5. Check out your local market, ask if they have a station where you can grind your own.

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