Mythbusters: Natural Peanut Butter vs. Regular Peanut Butter

Walk down the peanut butter aisle at any supermarket and you’ll see a variety of choices—from peanut butters made with simply peanuts to peanut butters in exciting flavors.

In the United States, there’s a standard of identity for peanut butter. According to FDA regulations, for peanut butter to be labeled as peanut butter, it has to contain at least 90 percent peanuts. The only other allowable ingredients are salt, sweeteners and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Fully hydrogenated oil does not contain trans fat and all major brands of peanut butter in the U.S. contain zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Natural peanut butters that include peanuts as the only ingredient also meet the criteria and can be labeled as peanut butter. Products that include anything else, like palm oil (which is higher in saturated fat but is not-hydrogenated and is trans fat free) or flavors or other ingredients must be labeled as peanut butter spreads. They may still contain at least 90 percent peanuts and have a similar nutritional profile, but they’re outside the standard definition of “peanut butter.”

Here are the nutritional differences between peanut butter (smooth style without salt) and natural peanut butter (just peanuts):

Peanut butter (from USDA Nutrient Database):

Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Total fat: 16g
Sat Fat: 3g
Sodium: 5mg
Sugar: 3g
Protein: 7g

Natural peanut butter (Top selling brand):

Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Total fat: 16g
Sat fat: 2g
Sodium: 0mg
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 8g

Because there is such a variety of peanut butters on the market, you can decide for yourself what characteristics are most important to you. You can buy a jar of natural peanut butter for your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and add in some fun occasionally with a chocolate peanut butter spread. You could use a creamy peanut butter to bake your favorite peanut butter cookies and natural chunky peanut butter to stir into your oatmeal at breakfast.

Whichever jar you pick up or grind yourself at the store, you’ll know that it contains the nutritional goodness and great taste of USA-grown peanuts.

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