Peanut, Peanut Butter!

by admin on June 18, 2011

Summer after my sophomore year in college, my roommate and I decided that we were going to become healthy (you see what a long, off-and-on journey this has been for me if it started with my roommate 6 years ago).  We made a few small changes that really went a long way that summer: we cut out soda, we worked our way down from 2% milk to skim milk, and we switched to natural peanut butter.

What’s amazing about those small changes is that they worked.  6 years later, I rarely drink soda, I consider 2% milk to be an indulgence, and I always, ALWAYS eat natural, usually organic peanut butter.

Peanut butter is a little thing that can do a lot for eating habits.  It’s healthy – yes, you heard me.  PEANUT BUTTER IS HEALTHY FOR YOUR BODY!  It wasn’t until the late 80’s when research really began to show the difference between good fats and bad fats.  Good fats lower your bad cholesterol and are used more efficiently by your body.  For now, just trust me on this.  Peanut butter IS good for you.  So are avocados.

If you want a better explanation of good fats vs. bad fats and the research that’s been done, email me or comment.  I’ll respond, and if there’s enough interest, I’ll make a post about it.

Getting back to peanut butter.  What kind do you eat?  I was raised on this.

Mom’s like you choose Jif.

Now, I’m no calorie counter and I don’t advocate it in any way; I think it leads to an unhealthy obsession with the amount of food put into your body.  Sometimes your body needs more fuel than others.  Eat for what your body needs.  Anyway, that’s a whole different post.

While I’m not a calorie-counter, I am a major label reader.  You’ll be surprised how much interesting information you can learn if you just read your food labels.

Now let’s compare Jif to what I switched to six years ago, organic natural peanut butter.

What I've Eaten for the Past 6 Years

As you can see, the main differences between the two peanut butters is not the calories or the fat, which is as far as most people look, but between the sodium and the sugar.  The natural peanut butter contains 1/3 the amount of sodium as Jif, and as nearly all Americans take in too much sodium every day, I think that’s worth a lot.

Same issue with sugar.  The natural organic peanut butter contains 1/3 the amount of sugar as Jif.  While the difference in sugars is not as great as the difference in sodium, it’s still a big deal.  Most of us consume entirely too much sugar (me more than anyone), so anytime you can cut out even the smallest bit of sugar, do it!  Why not?

But there’s one last kicker for me: can you read the ingredients?  I know they’re small.  I’ll read them to you, just in case.

Jif Creamy Peanut Butter – Roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapseed and soybean), mono-and diglycerides, salt.

Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter (Crunchy) – Organic roasted peanuts, contains 1% or less of salt.

This may just be me, but I like not having all the big words that I need to look up on my nutrition labels.  It feels more, well…natural.  I know exactly what is going into my body and I appreciate that.

So why not switch?  Most people choose not to switch for one of two main reasons:

1. Natural peanut butter is not as sweet; it’s not as much like a dessert.  If you’re still holding on to your sugary childhood peanut butter, I feel your pain on this one, as for the past 6 years, Jif has been a rare indulgence for me, while I eat natural peanut butter regularly.

2. The oil rises to the top of natural peanut butter, requiring stirring, which tends to freak people out.  This means that it’s natural!  Peanut oil separates from the butter.  It just does.

You can get natural peanut butters with “no oil separation,” but they don’t use peanut oil.  They usually use palm oil, which is considered to be one of the worst saturated fats on the market.  Or you can buy the peanut butter you ate as a kid – it doesn’t separate.  True, because the peanut oil is removed and replaced with a different oil, usually not all that different from Crisco.

We’re all adults here; we can deal with stirring the oil back into the peanut butter.  That only leaves one problem: taste.  Are you willing to sacrifice sweet flavor for health?  My recent small change taught me that you might not have to!  Try this.

My New Favorite Peanut Butter


MaraNatha Organic Chunky Peanut Butter: organic dry roasted peanuts, sea salt.

I know what those ingredients are!  Both of them.  Only 2.  And because the peanuts are dry roasted, the peanut butter has a lot more flavor, making it taste more like the peanut butter we loved as kids.  Notice, though, that it isn’t honey roasted, so we’re still avoiding extra sugar. Amazing.

I’ve been eating MaraNatha crunchy organic peanut butter for about a month now, and when I took a spoon full of Jif Creamy to my mouth as an indulgence last weekend, I missed my MaraNatha.  I didn’t even finish the spoon full.

Sure, there’s a small flavor difference between the natural peanut butter and the peanut butter we loved as kids.  But we’re not kids anymore, and the benefits majorly outweigh the small differences in taste.  At least for me.  What do you think?

And seriously, get your hands on some MaraNatha.  It’s the closest to what I loved as a child in a healthy form that I’ve found.  Look for this.

And enjoy a small change that can last a lifetime!

**DISCLAIMER: Please know that this is not a slam against Jif – I was raised on it and love it, and I haven’t done enough research to know if they offer any natural peanut butters without additives and with peanut oil.  I’m just working with the brands I know and love.  You can do the same research for your favorite brands!**

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sprint2thetable June 22, 2011 at 12:00 am

I was JUST having a conversation with someone about this today! Jif was my childhood too, but my new fav is Trader Joe’s Roasted Flax and Valencia PB. Recently I made my own almond butter, which I’m obsessed with. It’s so fun to be able to add whatever you are in the mood for!


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