Peanut Butter: What is it? What should it be?

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There are many “food like substances” (borrowed from Michael Pollan) out there that seem to masquerade as real, edible foods. On the surface they appear to be something innocuous, but contain many, many more ingredients than you think it should and some you may not have ever heard of. Peanut butter is one such food. If you’re like me, you think that it’s gotta be made from peanuts and not much else…but you’d be wrong. I’m not going to bash any specific brand here because they all pretty much do the same thing with minor variations. I’m also not going to focus on the fact that most of those added ingredients are potentially hazardous to your health (read: carcinogens, or that which causes cancer). My main focus is to show what ingredients are in most peanut butters and help direct you to some that are actually healthy alternatives.

What’s in most peanut butters?

When I last went to the grocery this was a list of the most common ingredients I read on the labels:

  • Peanuts
  • Dextrose
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil (cotton seed or rapeseed) (the carcinogen I mentioned)
  • Salt
  • Molasses (in some)

Why peanut butter needs dextrose (a sugar) and molasses (more sugar) is beyond me, and the oil, they claim, is there so it doesn’t separate, which last I checked a good stir with the knive before using reconstitutes it just fine. Don’t be fooled by those “healthy peanut butters” they are just as bad, if not worse a lot of the time.

So what should be in peanut butter?

  • Peanuts
  • Salt

Which Brands have just these two ingredients?

I can’t really give a list as many supposedly healthy or organic or “lite” products have these same ingredients, just less maybe. Our brand of choice happens to be the store brand (Krogers) natural peanut butter (pictured above). Don’t just go out and look for what I say though, check the ingredient panel for yourself and only buy the one that says peanuts and salt…trust me you’ll find it, it’s there, just don’t expect it from any of the brand names you’re probably familiar with.

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