Question:

As I cut down on my meat consumption, I am eating a lot of peanut butter. What is the big difference comparing, say Skippy and 100% peanut butter? Does natural and organic matter? How about calories?

– Kevin

Answer:

Great question, Kevin! There are a lot of peanut butters to choose from. Traditionally, PB has a smidge of oil, sugar, and salt added for flavor and processing to get that super creamy, easily spreadable quality. Some food stores have a pre-loaded grinder for you to make the peanut butter yourself without adding anything, and the result is a bit grainy. Nutritionally, there is little difference per 2 tablespoons serving between commercial and homemade PB. Now, if you eat almost a cup of conventional jarred PB per week, you would be getting more salt and carbohydrates, but fewer calories and protein than PB made straight from ground peanuts*.

There are sugar-free and salt-free jarred options available, you just have to look for them. One natural brand I like now offers PB pre-stirred “smooth” so the natural oils don’t separate out to the top and it’s not grainy. Organic peanut butter probably has less pesticide residue, but there is little nutritional difference, depending on the brand.

*According to the USDA Food Composition Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, April 2018, for 200 grams (first brand listed for last 2 columns descriptors):

Smooth Peanut Butter (conventional) Unsalted Creamy PB (peanuts only)

Organic Unsalted Creamy PB (peanuts only)

1176 Calories 1312 Calories 1250 Calories
43.9 gm protein 50 gm protein 50 gm protein
99.1 gm fat 100 gm fat 106.3 gm fat
48 gm carbohydrate 37.5 gm carbohydrate 37.5 gm carbohydrate
11.4 gm fiber 12.4 gm fiber 12.4 gm fiber
13 gm sugar 6.3 gm sugar 12.5 sugar
952 mg sodium 0 mg sodium 32 mg sodium

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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