Why Should You Buy Natural Peanut Butter??

Why Should You Buy Natural Peanut Butter??

Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe I’m selectively reading articles that confirm my belief, but when I think about peanut butter – which I do, often – I think of it as a protein source. Which likely makes me feel better about how much of it I eat because, in my mind, high protein means it’s good for me.

For the nutritionists out there, I know there are a lot of caveats to this statement, but it’s a hard-wired belief that I’m working to change.

The problem is, if you’re eating brand name peanut butter (like Jif, Skippy, etc.) you’re not just eating peanuts – you’re also eating a lot of things you didn’t bargain for.

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. Until about 10 years ago, I considered peanut butter and Jif one and the same. I never even considered buying a “natural” peanut butter, nor did I know there was such a thing. I mean, I loved Jif, so why would I need to look for a substitute?

Here’s why:

  1. Sugar
  2. Hydrogenated vegetable oil
  3. Mono- & diglycerides


It may surprise you, but there is sugar in most peanut butter.

Don’t believe me? Take a moment to check the ingredient list of your peanut butter. I bet sugar is the second ingredient. Sometimes it comes in the form of molasses, but regardless of what form it is, it’s still sugar.

While these more natural forms of sugar are a slight improvement from the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) they used previously, it still doesn’t explain why sugar is added to peanut butter in the first place.

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are the primary dietary source of trans fat in processed food. Research has shown that consuming foods containing trans fat increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke and is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If that’s not scary enough, in 2015 the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.

As a result, the FDA required food manufacturers to remove partially hydrogenated oils from products by June 2018. However, the fully hydrogenated substitute that’s now being used in its place isn’t much better.

Not to mention that the vegetable oils they use – rapeseed (canola), soybean, etc. – are HIGHLY inflammatory and come with a whole bunch of negative side effects. This article gives a great overview of effect vegetable oils have on your body.

Mono- & diglycerides

While you may be thinking that since partially hydrogenated oils have been removed, you’re safe in the trans fat department.

Not so fast.

Guess what else contains trans fat? Mono- and diglycerides. Yet another questionable ingredient in peanut butter.

At this moment you may be calling BS  – the Jif label above lists 0 grams for trans fat.

That’s because the trans fat from mono- and diglycerides isn’t required to be listed on a nutrition label. Apparently, since they are classified as emulsifiers and not fats they’re exempt from the FDA ban.

Tricky, huh?

Natural Brands

While it may seem like I’m only getting down on the brand names, you should know that even natural food companies add ingredients (mainly sugar & oil) to nut butter – especially the new “specialty” varieties (i.e. chocolate peanut butter, sugar cookie peanut butter, caramel almond spread – yes these are a thing).

Just because something is labeled “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. 

Case in point: “Natural” Jif states on the label that it contains ONLY 90% peanuts.

My question is, what’s the other 10%?? And, better yet, if the natural version contains only 90% peanuts, does the regular version contain less?

I don’t know about you, but if I saw peanut butter on the shelf that was labeled “natural” I’d assume it’s made from only peanuts.

It’s not:

Always double check the ingredient list. There doesn’t need to be anything listed except peanuts.

Bottom line: I’m not trying to food shame your peanut butter choices. I know there are MANY factors that go into food purchases and no one is perfect (especially me). In fact, I’d argue that perfection doesn’t actually exist. I just want to make sure you are fully aware of what’s in your food so you have the option to choose differently if you want to.

And to encourage you to eat peanut butter – because it’s delicious.

For more on peanut butter check out I’m a Peanut Butter Snob.

Click here for the BEST no bake cookie recipe (I promise, it has lots of peanut butter).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.