Peanut butter: healthiest brands to buy

Dietitian Joel Feren weighs in on the peanut butter debate, and reveals which spreads made the cut. 

Whether it’s smooth, crunchy, smunchy or super crunchy, peanut butter in all its glorious forms is delicious. Plus, it’s incredibly versatile. I love the super crunchy variety on grainy toast, but I also like to partner it with banana, add a dollop to a smoothie, lay a spoonful over my pancakes, mix it in a stir-fry or eat it straight from the jar. Because who doesn’t, right?

So how can you choose the perfect peanut butter? These days there is a plethora of options. However, it’s best to choose one that is made from 100% ground peanuts or one with very few additives.

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My top picks for peanut butter brands that you can find at your local supermarket or health food shop are (in no particular order):

  1. Simply Nuts
  2. Sanitarium Natural 100% peanuts
  3. Mayver’s
  4. Pic’s
  5. Macro Organic
  6. 99th Monkey

Did you know that plain and simple peanut butter is also highly nutritious? Here are some peanut butter facts that may surprise you.

Peanuts are a legume and not a nut

Peanuts are edible seeds that grow in a pod and therefore belong to the bean or legume family. However, their nutritional make-up more closely resembles that of a nut. And that’s why they often get included in the conversation with walnuts, cashews, almonds etc.

It’s a good source of plant-protein

Per 20g serve of peanut butter, you get 5g of protein. It’s almost the same as one egg, 100g of natural yoghurt or one slice of wholegrain bread. It’s not insignificant, and an extra spoonful of peanut butter may help you meet your overall daily protein needs.

It contains iron

Peanut butter has a small but notable iron content. This highlights just one of the many wonderful attributes of peanuts. Adding peanut butter to your toast, stir-fry or brekkie cereal can bump up the iron content of the dish. Remember, when it comes to specific nutrients the total is more than the sum of its parts…

Nevertheless, to absorb that iron, pair your peanut butter with some Vitamin C in the form of fresh fruit to help boost plant-based iron absorption. For example, strawberries and peanut butter on toast is an unusual, but winning (and delicious) combination.

It’s got fibre

Most of us fall short of our daily fibre requirements, so eating more fibre-rich foods is key. At 6% fibre, peanut butter can make a significant contribution. Keep in mind that fibre does more than just love your guts; it’s your nutritional bestie. Fibre has been shown to reduce our risk of chronic disease and certain types of cancers, and it acts as fodder for our flourishing microbiomes.

It’s good for your overall health

Peanut butter is a rich source of monounsaturated fats – the healthy ones that help to reduce cholesterol. It’s also a good source of, folate, niacin, choline, vitamin E and potassium. Better yet, it is believed that peanuts may improve insulin sensitivity. There is evidence to show that people who regularly eat peanuts have a reduced incidence of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who don’t.

Further, eating peanuts is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating peanuts just two or three times a week is associated with a 10% reduced risk of stroke. Talk about the quintessential brain food!

Finally, the old nutrition caveat applies that too much of a good thing does not necessarily mean better. This is especially true if you’re trying to keep your weight in check. So rather than going nuts on the nutty stuff, exercise your portion control and stick to (pun intended) about one-two tablespoons a day.

Joel Feren or ‘The Nutrition Guy’ is a highly regarded Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a background in the biomedical sciences.