The next time you slather Skippy all over your morning toast, think twice. Nut butter from peanuts, cashews, and almonds is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats for a boost of HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
However, many popular brands have sneaky added sugars and hydrogenated oils that turn a healthy snack into a nutritional detriment. Luckily, there are nutritious options out there, and Vani Hari, a food activist who petitions for transparent food labeling and better ingredients, has some tips to help you make a healthier choice.
What to Check for on the Label
According to Hari, there’s no better time than the present for a healthy swap. Scanning the label before dropping good ol’ Jif in your cart will give you the confidence that you’re making a wholesome choice. Here’s what to look for.
“Only Contains Nuts”
Many nut butters, including natural nut butter, contain hydrogenated oils (like soybean and cottonseed) or palm oil which are used to keep them from separating on the shelf, and fresh without refrigeration. While convenient, these oils are heavily processed and refined and are linked to chronic inflammation (1). Healthier alternatives contain two ingredients max: nuts and maybe sea salt.
In 2015, the USDA Pesticide Data Program identified 8 different pesticides found in peanut butter, including Piperoyl Butoxide, which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and may be linked to male reproductive toxicity (2). Side-step pesticides by choosing certified organic.
“Raw,” Not “Roasted”
With the exception of peanuts, the roasting process can damage the vitamins and minerals found in nuts and seeds when compared to raw nuts. Skim the shelf for nut butters that are raw instead of toasted.
Nut Butter Brands To Skip
Your favorite nut butter may not pass the test. Hari shares 6 highly-processed options to avoid:
- Simply Jif
- Peter Pan
- Sam’s Choice
Best Nut Butter Brands To Try
Hari notes that there are healthy alternatives that pass the test. Some of her favorite brands include: