It is estimated that Americans eat 800 million pounds of peanut butter each year! That’s enough to cover the floor of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Peanuts are not actual nuts, they are part of a family of legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and other beans. They provide major health benefits and are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are emphasized in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Peanuts are good sources of Vitamin E, folate, niacin, protein, and manganese.
Peanut butter comes in creamy, chunky, extra chunky, natural, or reduced fat; depending on the brand. For those people who eat JIF Reduced Fat Creamy or Chunky Peanut Butter, pay close attention to the label. It’s not healthier than the original JIF Creamy Peanut Butter. Remember, looks can be deceiving. Just because food products say “fat free, low fat, or reduced fat” does not mean that they are better for you.
JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter has 15 grams of carbohydrates versus 7 grams found in the original JIF Creamy Peanut Butter. Carbohydrates absorbed in the body turn into sugar which then is converted into fat. The amount of sugar in JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter is 4 grams versus 3 grams in JIF Creamy Peanut Butter. The sodium in JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter is 250 milligrams versus 150 milligrams in JIF Creamy Peanut Butter. The added sugar, sodium, and carbs in JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter defeats the purpose of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Many natural and organic brands of peanut butter contain palm oil, which may be a healthier oil for humans but at what cost and to whom? The environment of the orangutans is being decimated in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia in order to harvest palm oil. People who love animals and are passionate about conservation and environmental causes may think twice about purchasing natural and organic foods. Once they find out where the foods came from and how, they may not purchase them in the future.
Finally, there are many ways to enjoy peanut butter such as the “old fashioned PB & J sandwich.” Spread it on whole grain toast and crackers or add a tablespoon to a smoothie. However you use peanut butter, just remember to read the label because not all brands of peanut butter are created equally!