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This guest post was written by Elisha of My Health Maven. She is deeply passionate about educating people and empowering them to lead healthier lives. We encourage you to check out her blog and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

What’s really inside Kraft peanut butter + why you should make your own

We all love peanut butter, but may not be sure about how healthy it really is. This article will look into the process of how peanut butter is made and what ingredients are commonly used in commercially made peanut butter.

What’s in peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a versatile food that can be used in cookie recipes, smoothies, spread on fruit or celery, used in sauces and is great as a snack. According to peanutbutterlovers.com, more than 90 percent of American homes have a jar of peanut butter in their pantry. [1] 

So, is peanut butter good for you? Like most things, it depends on the quality of the product and how often you consume it. But how do you tell the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly? It’s simple, take a look at the label.

Let’s start by taking a look at the ingredient labels of 4 common peanut butter brands:

Jif Creamy Skippy Smooth Kraft Creamy Marantha Organic
Ingredients: Ingredients: Ingredients: Ingredients:
Roasted Peanuts and Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed and Soybean), Mono- and Diglycerides, Salt [2]  Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed, Soybean and Rapeseed Oil) to prevent separation, Salt [3]  Roasted Peanuts, Soybean Oil, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cotton Seed And Rapeseed Oil), Salt, Mono- And Diglycerides [4]  100% organic Dry Roasted Peanuts, Sea Salt. [5] 

So what exactly are these ingredients?

is peanut butter good for you, peanut butter brands, healthy peanut butter

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Fully hydrogenated vegetable oil – Fully hydrogenated oils are heated and mixed with hydrogen gas in order to convert them from liquids to solids for use in food products. Fully hydrogenated oils don’t contain trans fats. [6] 

Hydrogenated oil – According to Berkley Wellness, “If the label just says “hydrogenated” oil, you don’t know if it’s fully or partially hydrogenated.” Partially hydrogenated oil contain trans fats. Eating trans fat raises the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels in the blood increase your risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S. [7] 

Cottonseed oil– This oil is high in saturated fats and low in unsaturated fats. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, cotton is not considered a food crop, therefore farmers can use many agrichemicals when growing this crop. Cottonseed oil is also more likely to have higher levels of pesticide residue. [8] 

Rapeseed oil- Wild rapeseed oil contains high amounts of erucic acid, which can cause numerous health problems. Canadian growers bred a new variety of rapeseed in the 1970s with a lower content of erucic acid and it was renamed canola. [9] 

Soybean oil – More than 90% of soy grown in the US is genetically engineered, the crops are also sprayed with Roundup, an herbicide that has been found to proliferate cancer cells, even in parts per trillion. Hexane, a chemical solvent, is also used to extract the oil from the soybean. [10]

Mono- and diglycerides – Are classified as emulsifiers. They are also trans fats. Mono- and diglycerides are food additives that are used to combine ingredients that don’t mix well, like fats and water.  In 2006, the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to list a food’s trans fat content on the label. [11] This law applies to lipids, like triglycerides, but not to emulsifiers like mono- and diglycerides. Even though mono- and diglycerides contain trans-fatty acids, they aren’t under these labeling requirements. This means a food may be labeled as having “0% trans fat” yet still contain trans-fatty acids from mono- and diglycerides. [12]

Corn maltodextrin – Maltodextrin is used as a filler, preservative, and thickener in processed foods. Although it’s derived from food, in this case, corn, it is highly processed. The process is called partial hydrolysis. This process uses acid, enzymes and water to break the starch down and create a water soluble powder. Maltodextrin is also linked to spikes in blood sugar, suppressing probiotic growth and allergic reactions such as rashes, cramps and bloating. [13] 

Sugar– If you eat any processed foods, you are likely consuming higher amounts of sugar than you may realize. This article by Nancy Appleton highlights 143 reasons why sugar is bad for your health, each backed with references. [14] 

What are your options from worst to best?

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Worst = Kraft, JIF, Skippy peanut butter. Why? They contain the most additives and artificial ingredients.

Better = “Natural” peanut butter options with roasted peanuts and salt.

Best = 100% organic peanut butter, or homemade.

The problem with peanuts

Peanuts are naturally high in omega-6 fats and lower in omega-3 fats. Consuming too many omega-6 fats can lead to type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity metabolic syndrome and more. Peanuts can often also contain the mold aflatoxin.

What is aflatoxin?

Aflatoxin is considered a human carcinogen. This toxic compound is produced by Aspergillus molds. There are at least 13 different types of aflatoxin molds that researchers have identified. This mold infects crops such as corn, peanuts, rice, and wheat. [15] 

Aflatoxin grows in soils when conditions provide the perfect mix of decaying plants, hay or grains, high temperatures and high moisture. While this mold can occur prior to harvest, they can also occur during storage if the crop is too moist. Since peanuts are grown in the soil, this creates the potential for mold. [16]

Love peanut butter but want to avoid the mold?

Always buy organic to avoid GMOS, pesticides, and herbicides. Secondly, look for Valencia or jungle peanuts, which are grown on bushes.

4 Recipes for homemade nut butter

is peanut butter good for you, peanut butter brands, peanut butter nutrition facts

You can purchase fresh ground nut butter at many health food stores. If you want to try your hand at making nut butter, here are a few recipes to get you started.

Healthy Peanut Butter

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of peanuts

  • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)

  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil

  • 1-2 tablespoons of natural honey (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place nuts and salt in a high-speed blender.

  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.

  3. Add coconut oil and honey. Blend until smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.

  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

Coconut Cashew Butter

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Place nuts in a high-speed blender.

  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.

  3. Add coconut oil. Blend until smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.

  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

Honey Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups of almonds

  • 2 tablespoons of natural honey

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Place nuts in a high-speed blender.

  2. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.

  3. Add honey and coconut oil. Blend until smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.

  4. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

 Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of hazelnuts

  • ¼ cup of cacao powder

  • ¼ cup of maple syrup

  • 1½ tablespoons of vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Roast hazelnuts for 8 minutes in 400 F oven. 

  2. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

  3. Rub nuts in a dishtowel to remove the outer paper skins.

  4. Place nuts in a high-speed blender.

  5. Blend nuts until they have a flour-like consistency.

  6. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy, using tamper if needed.

  7. Place in air tight jar, label and refrigerate.

Check out this video by Simply Quinoa to see how to make 3 healthy nut butters!

Sources

  1. Southern Peanut Growers. (2017, February 27). Spreadworthy Peanut Butter Facts. Retrieved from http://peanutbutterlovers.com/blog/spreadworthy-peanut-butter-facts/

  2. JIF. (n.d.). Creamy Peanut Butter. Retrieved from http://www.jif.com/products/peanut-butter/creamy-peanut-butter

  3. SKIPPY. (n.d.). Creamy Peanut Butter. Retrieved from http://www.peanutbutter.com/product.php?id=3

  4. Walmart. (n.d.). Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter. Retrieved from https://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/kraft-smooth-peanut-butter/6000153706358

  5. MaraNatha. (n.d.). Organic Peanut Butter – with Salt (Creamy). Retrieved from http://www.maranathafoods.com/product/organic-peanut-butter-with-salt-creamy

  6. Brown, J. L. (n.d.). Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils and Trans Fatty Acids. Retrieved from http://extension.psu.edu/publications/uk093

  7. Berkeley Wellness. (2011, October 1). Ask the Experts: Hydrogenated Oils. Retrieved from http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/hydrogenated-oils

  8. Weil, A., M.D. (2016, December 01). Is Cottonseed Oil Okay? Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/is-cottonseed-oil-okay/

  9. Adams, M. (2012, January 23). Canola oil used to be called RAPESEED oil but the name was changed for marketing reasons. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/034733_canola_oil_rapeseed_food_labels.html

  10. K. G., BSc. (2016, August 18). Is Soy Bad For You, or Good? The Shocking Truth. Retrieved from https://authoritynutrition.com/is-soy-bad-for-you-or-good/

  11. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Labeling & Nutrition – Trans Fat Labeling. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064904.htm#transfat

  12. FoodFacts.com. (n.d.). Ingredient Information for Mono and Diglycerides. Retrieved from http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/ingredientsoverlay/mono—diglycerides/2204/?pd=1

  13. Molecular Gastronomy Network. (n.d.). Additives: Maltodextrin. Retrieved from http://www.moleculargastronomynetwork.com/22-additives/maltodextrin.html

  14. Appleton, N., PhD. (2016, September 13). 143 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health. Retrieved from http://myhealthmaven.com/143-reasons-sugar-ruins-health/

  15. Barrett, J. R. (2005, December). Liver Cancer and Aflatoxin: New Information from the Kenyan Outbreak. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1314947/

  16. Environmental Health and Safety Online. (n.d.). Aflatoxins in Your Food and Their Effect on Your Health. Retrieved from http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/aflatoxin.php

Image Source:

http://www.youmademesmile.ca/uploads/8/3/5/7/8357322/2459037_orig.jpg

Elisha McFarland
Health Expert
Elisha McFarland, N.D. is the founder of My Health Maven. She turned her debilitating illness from mercury poisoning into a dedicated passion for helping people.
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