(First of two parts)
Peanut butter is a great snack for adults, plus a go-to food for parents feeding their kids. Unfortunately, many of the commercial peanut butters sold in stores contain—unnecessarily—more than just peanuts.
The ingredients in Skippy creamy peanut butter are roasted peanuts, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean and rapeseed) and salt. The added sugar and salt are not good for our health and, just as important, work to corrupt our taste buds.
However, the far greater danger lies in the hydrogenated oils, which are chemically altered oils. These oils contain unsaturated fats that have had hydrogen atoms added to their structure, making them more solid and turning them into trans fats.
Why are these hydrogenated oils added to many packaged and processed snack foods, including cookies, cakes and crackers? The change in chemical composition allows the oils to be better used in baking and also helps prevent spoilage, thereby prolonging food items’ shelf life.
But trans fats pose severe health risks, with the most serious being a link to heart disease, stemming from trans fats’ negative effects on the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol in the body. Connections to obesity and diabetes also exist.
So, what to look for when buying peanut butter? Peanuts. Nothing more, nothing less. Many supermarkets and progressive food stores grind their own peanut butter. Failing that, Smucker’s makes a creamy peanut butter that “contains 100% peanuts,” with “no added salt, sugar, stabilizers or preservatives.”
The cost? At my local supermarket, a 12-ounce jar of the Smucker’s is $2.49, compared to $2.79 for a 12-ounce jar of Skippy. Go figure.
(Tomorrow: Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread)