On Nutrition: More on peanut butter
Published in Nutrition
A recent column on hydrogenated fats in peanut butter brought these responses:
“I read recently, in my local paper, your long answer to a question about fat in peanut butter. The peanut butter I eat frequently, I make at my food co-op simply by grinding their shelled, organic peanuts. How does my peanut butter rate health-wise in terms of fat? Matts in Tucson.”
Dear Matts: According to the USDA Food Data Central (and my calculations from other sources), a serving (two tablespoons) of freshly ground peanut butter contains about 15 grams of total fat. Only about two grams of that is the saturated type we are called to limit in our diets. The remainder is in the form of healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So yes, your freshly ground peanut butter is a good choice. Just remember to watch your portions if you’re watching your weight. Peanut butter packs close to 100 calories in every tablespoon.
Pat M. writes: “Regarding hydrogenated oil in peanut butter ... Your answer was fine, right up to the point where you compared his peanut butter to a jar of 'natural' peanut butter containing sugar, palm oil and salt. Natural peanut butter would be ground peanuts, period. As a dietitian surely you know the word ‘natural’ on foods means nothing other than marketing tricks. By using this as an example of a not-any-better food, you reinforce the belief that highly processed foods, full of whatever, are no worse than actual natural foods. A better recommendation would be that he avoid oil-added, and sugar-added, peanut butter.”
Dear Pat: My attempted point was that products labeled “natural” are not always the best choice since there is no official definition for the term. Ground peanuts are, of course, the most natural type of peanut butter, but manufacturers can add other ingredients for flavor or shelf life and still call a product “natural.” It pays to read the label … always.
Then this refreshing letter from JP in Buffalo: "Thank you for clearing up some of the confusion on different kinds of fat in our collective human endeavor to make a health-conscious world.
Because of your article, I actually measured out 35 grams of my favorite peanut butter (it is the science teacher in me) and carefully smeared it on a thin slice of my homemade whole wheat bread, thinking all the while how little peanut butter I really need to make a PB&J sandwich. On top, I proudly spooned my homemade concord grape jelly (without added sugar or preservatives) in a thin layer, to complement the amount of peanut butter. I have to admit it was more than very good, it was satisfying.
I agree with your conclusion, that (if) we all want to improve and keep our health we need to learn to eat intelligently and we should not have to deny ourselves of the simplest of pleasures! I believe that eating in moderation is the right way of enjoying food. I just wish I had learned that lesson when I was younger.”
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