Don’t get duped by reduced-fat peanut butter, how to find the best peanut butter for you

I could eat peanut butter all day and put it on everything– bananas, toast, apples, etc. but I have a problem keeping my portion size down. Once the jar is open, it’s hard to quit dipping snacks or even sneaking my spoon in the jar to eat up all the peanutty-goodness.

I recently purchased a jar of Weis’ reduced-fat peanut butter to help with this potential diet problem, thinking reduced-fat peanut butter would at least make my frequent peanut butter indulgences healthier. When I looked at the nutritional facts, however, I realized that Weis’ reduced-fat peanut butter and other reduced fat peanut butter brands might actually be more unhealthy than regular peanut butter.

For instance, Weis’ reduced-fat peanut butter has 190 calories per two tablespoons. That’s actually the same amount of calories in two tablespoons of Crazy Richard’s 100 percent Natural Peanut Butter. So why, if they have the same amount of calories, is one reduced fat?

Here’s what you need to know about this reduced-fat peanut butter duplicity. Weis Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter has 12 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated aren’t listed). Crazy Richard’s 100 percent Natural Creamy Peanut Butter has 16 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 8 grams of monounsaturated fat.

So yes Weis’ jar does have less fat, with 12 grams of fat compared to Crazy Richard’s 16 grams of fat. But, don’t be fooled by the “reduced-fat” claim like I was. With peanut butter, it’s a matter of fat quality instead of quantity. Weis’ reduced-fat peanut butter actually has .5 grams more saturated fat than Crazy Richard’s peanut butter. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, suggests avoiding saturated fats for health. According to the Mayo Clinic, saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Any food item that has more saturated fat than the traditional product shouldn’t be considered “reduced fat.” What were the label makers thinking?

In order to be “reduced fat,” Weis cut out some of the super healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats from its reduced-fat peanut butter. Crazy Richard’s peanut butter has 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 8 grams of monounsaturated fat. The reduced-fat Weis doesn’t even list their healthy fat breakdown. It’s just a little misleading.

Studies show that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes. PUFAs might also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, is especially beneficial to your heart.

I feel ripped off by Weis Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter. Both my mind and body want a refund. I want them to take back the saturated fats they added to perfectly delicious peanuts and to return any healthy fats they removed.

Any while they are at it, they can remove all the salt and sugar they shoveled into the reduced-fat jar. Weis’ Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter has 230 mg of salt, whereas Crazy Richard’s peanut butter has 0 mg. Weis’ reduced-fat peanut butter has 4 grams of sugar, and Crazy Richard’s brand has only 2 grams.

One other awesome thing about Crazy Richard’s peanut butter? Only one ingredient is listed. And that’s peanuts. It’s deliciously simple!

More health/fitness news
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Get the skinny on sweeteners
Make these easy, healthy swaps to lose weight
Vogue mom’s essay about overweight daughter raises important questions

Emileigh Clare

Multimedia copy editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News

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3 Responses

  1. I found Better ‘N Peanut Butter about a year ago. They sell it at Weis and Giant. It’s health stats are way better than real peanut butter (85% less fat; 40% fewer calories; no cholesterol; no refined sugars). Once you open the jar, you have to store it in the fridge, since it has no preservatives. It’s super smooth and just as addicting as regular pb!

  2. Emileigh Clare says:

    I’ve tried that brand before and I like it but it’s kind of too sweet for me almost! I should try experimenting with it more though. I have a feeling Better N’ Peanut Butter would taste good in oatmeal…

  1. August 27, 2012

    […] more peanut butter? Emileigh Clare blogs about her favorite, all-natural brand. […]

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