• Jamie McDermott, MS, RD

Which Peanut Butter is Right For Me?

Updated: Nov 12, 2019



November is National Peanut Butter Month, woohoo! Who else loves the savory, versatile snack made from this wonderful legume? We are definitely a PB family, and I remember when it used to be as simple as choosing between Skippy and Jif - those were the days, right?! Now, things are a bit more complicated - and it can be overwhelming to say the least when staring at the rows of options in the grocery store: store brand vs. name brand, natural, reduced fat, with honey, and even peanut butter powder. When trying to decide what choice is best for you and your family, here are my thoughts regarding all things peanut butter. Let's go!


1) Natural peanut butter has fewer ingredients, namely, peanuts and salt. There are no preservatives, sugar, or stabilizers; which is why some natural peanut butters will separate at room temperature and requires mixing. I personally love this aspect, as well as the grittier texture and authentic peanut taste.


2) Regular peanut butter contains added sugar and oil. Palm or palm kernel oil is a type of tropical fat often used as a stabilizer to prevent the oil in the peanuts from rising to the top of the jar. Although it is high in saturated fat (50-80%), it contributes 1g or less per serving. Added sugar and salt are primarily used as taste enhancers.


3) Both options offer similar amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat. A 2 Tablespoon serving of either traditional or natural peanut butter has approximately 180 calories, 15g of fat, 8g of carbohydrate, and 7g of protein. The carbohydrate content will decrease slightly to about 6g per serving with natural peanut butter due to the fact that there is no sugar added.


4) What's the deal with peanut butter powder? Even store brands are now offering peanut butter powder (often knows as PB2, the brand name version), which is basically defatted peanuts ground into a flour, and combined with salt and sugar. Per 2 Tbsp serving, it is much lower in calories, (45 vs 180), fat (1.5g vs 15g), and similar in protein (6g). Peanut butter powder mixes wonderfully into smoothies, and mixed with water provides a similar taste and mouthfeel of peanut butter; however it will not keep you full for as long due to the lower fat content.


4) Nutella, Cookie Butter, etc. are NOT peanut butter (sorry!) :) Although described as a chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella is mostly sugar and palm oil. Cookie butter is made from cookie dough, flour, and sugar. Personally I would not recommend consuming these every day and the same goes for peanut butter with added jelly, chocolate, or honey. Treat these as sweets!


5) Peanut butter should be used in moderation for those trying to lose weight. Just because it is a low carbohydrate food, peanut butter packs a lot of calories into a small serving. Nuts and nut butters can most certainly be part of a weight loss eating plan; they are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat, and I recommend them often. However, portions need to be monitored so as not to throw off one's calorie balance for the day.


6) The bottom line: Unless you are eating many servings per day, its totally up to you to choose your brand and type of peanut butter (hooray!). I usually give my clients the freedom to choose what brand and type of peanut butter they eat as long as were are mindfully incorporating it into their prescribed nutrition plan.


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