Most of the major brands of peanut butter contain partially hydrogenated oils, which we recommend that you avoid (see report #N185.) Partially hydrogenated oils are solid at room temperature, so the peanut butter manufacturers use them to keep the oil from separating and to give their products a very long shelf life. They don't have to add very much partially hydrogenated oil, but it is there – look at the list of ingredients. They try to fool you because if the amount is less than .5 grams per serving, they can say "0 grams of trans fats" or "no trans fats." A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons -- so they can put as much as 8 grams of trans fats in a 16-ounce jar and still attach a label that says "No Trans Fats"!.
If you think it's important to avoid trans fats, as we do, you will read the list of ingredients on every processed food you buy and put back any that include the words "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated". For most peanut butter lovers, that meant a trip to a specialty store to get freshly-ground peanut butter or one of the smaller brands that contain only peanuts (and that's still a perfectly good solution.)
Most supermarkets now carry at least a few brands that don't contain partially hydrogenated oils. My current favorite is Smart Balance Omega Peanut Butter, which has the added bonus of omega-3 fatty acids, "good fats" that we all need.
You'll notice when you pick up a jar that there's about ½" of oil at the top. You need to stir this in before you use it. One caller said she pours it off -- but that doesn't really help anything and may make the peanut butter feel to stiff. (Peanuts are very high in fat even after you've poured off the oil, so if you're concerned about calories or total fat content, you're better off with another food.)
I hope that supermarkets are getting the message that we want choices that don't contain partially hydrogenated oils – in peanut butter and all other foods. If you can't find these peanut butter in your supermarket, go to the Customer Service desk and 1) ask if they carry any peanut butter without partially hydrogenated oils (they may be able to tell you where it is), and 2) if the answer is no, ask them to stock some. If you find any other brands of peanut butter stocked in supermarkets, let me know and I'll add them to my list.
Peanut Butter Brands
available in supermarkets
with no partially hydrogenated oils:
Smart Balance Omega Peanut Butter
Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter
Adams Peanut Butter
President's Choice Peanut Butter
Smuckers All Natural
Publix supermarket store brand
Kroger's supermarket store brand
(Check the store brand in your supermarket)
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