Peanut Butter-What’s In That?
Peanut Butter is as “American” as baseball and apple pie!
It’s a staple in the vast majority of American households, if not every kitchen, and has been, for generations.
It goes great on and with many things including; white bread, crackers, celery, ice cream, bananas, milkshakes and much more.
There’s even websites dedicated to peanut butter such as PeanutButterLovers.com.
There’s no doubt, Peanut Butter offers some nutritional value. One ounce of roasted peanuts provides 10% of the daily value of folate, the naturally occurring form of the B vitamin folic acid, recommended for the reduction of birth defects and lowered heart disease risk.
But there is also no arguing the fact that traditional, non-organic or all natural brands also offer some not-so-nutritional ingredients and has serious allergy implications for many. Let’s take a look at the big picture.
Roasted Peanuts Sugar Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Cottonseed and Rapeseed) Salt
Let’s take a closer look at each of these ingredients:
A closer look at peanuts and one learns that they are not even in the “nut family”. They are actually legumes related to peas, lentils, chickpeas and other beans.
But for as small as peanuts are, they pack a HUGE punch in terms of nutrition. They offer the following nutritional values:
mono unsaturated fats – healthy fat good for a strong heart vitamin E niacin folate protein magnesium resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant found in red grapes and red wine
And there are numerous studies that prove a diet high in peanuts can reduce cardiovascular disease.
Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. It turns out that peanuts are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions.
Many schools across the U.S. are banning ALL peanut products and even products manufactured in plants where peanuts have been processed due to the high number of children allergic to them and the severe nature of the allergic reactions.
But if you are not allergic to peanuts, partaking in them daily can be a great way to help your heart and body stay healthy and strong.
Although less harmful than High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), sugar offers no nutritional value.
Sugar is known to cause tooth decay, obesity, and hyper-activity, among other things.
It is added to Peanut Butter to enhance the taste and flavor.
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils:
In Peanut Butter, most often includes Cottonseed and Rapeseed oils. Let’s take a closer look at each:
Wikipedia: Cottonseed oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant after the cotton lint has been removed. It must be refined to remove gossypol, a naturally occurring toxin that protects the cotton plant from insect damage. Therefore, unrefined cottonseed oil is sometimes used as a pesticide. In its natural unhydrogenated state, cottonseed oil, like all vegetable oils, has no cholesterol. It also contains no trans fatty acids. However, it does contain over 50% Omega-6 fatty acids and only trace amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, and the imbalance is considered unhealthy if not used in moderation or balanced elsewhere in the diet. Further, these polyunsaturated fats can potentially go rancid during the extraction process.
Cottonseed oil is rich in palmitic acid (22-26%), oleic acid (15-20%), linoleic acid (49-58%) and 10% mixture of arachidic acid, behenic acid and lignoceric acid. It also contains about 1% sterculic acids and malvalic acids in the crude oil. The cyclopropene acids are undesirable components, but they are largely removed during refining, particularly deodorization, and also during hydrogenation. They are not considered to present any health hazard in cottonseed oil.
Cottonseed oil is commonly used in manufacturing potato chips and other snack foods. Along with soybean oil, it is very often partially or fully hydrogenated. The growing consensus is that in hydrogenated (trans fat) form these oils are very unhealthy. Cottonseed oil was the first oil to be hydrogenated in mass production, originally intended for candle production, and soon also as a food (as Crisco). In part because regulations apply differently to non-food crops, it has also been suggested that cottonseed oil may be highly contaminated with pesticide residues, but insufficient testing has been done.
Cotton (oil) is also one of the big four (soy, corn, rapeseed/Canola, and cotton) genetically modified crops grown around the world.
Wikipedia: Natural rapeseed oil contains erucic acid, which is mildly toxic to humans in large doses but is used as a food additive in smaller doses. Canola is a tradename for low erucic acid rapeseed that is sometimes mis-applied to other cultivars.
Rapeseed has been linked with adverse effects in asthma and hay fever sufferers. Some suggest that oilseed pollen is the cause of increased breathing difficulties. This is unlikely however, as rapeseed is an entomophilous crop, with pollen transfer primarily by insects. Others suggest that it is the inhalation of oilseed rape dust that causes this, and that allergies to the pollen are relatively rare. There may also be another effect at work; since rapeseed in flower has a distinctive and pungent smell, hay fever sufferers may wrongly jump to the conclusion that it is the rapeseed that is to blame simply because they can smell it.
I think you can summize for yourself the not-so-nutritional value these 2 vegetable oils offer us when included in Peanut Butter.
Partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fatty acids are something we can all do without. They have proven to have serious health effects and provide no nutritional value whatsoever.
One of salt’s major functions is to regulate blood volume and pressure including the flexibility of the blood vessels. Taken in moderation, it’s a good thing for our health.
However, when consumed in high volumes, it can be quite the opposite.
Homemade Peanut Butter is the absolute healthiest alternative, as you’ll always know EXACTLY what is in the final product. Here’s a sample homemade recipe:
You can use a blender, food processor or an electric mincer.
3 cups organic roasted peanuts 2-3 Tbsp. honey 5 to 7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (or until desired consistency) Peanuts help control blood sugar and contain antioxidants, as do olive oil and honey.
There are other “peanut-substitute” products on the market for those with allergies to peanuts. Although hard to find, I would highly recommend only a natural or organic variety. The traditionally processed varieties do contain chemicals and preservatives.
Buying organic or all natural “nut spreads” at your local organic grocer, is another alternative. They are fresh, all natural and offer all the nutritional value without any harmful or unnecessary ingredients.
Non-organic peanuts are routinely treated with pesticides. This is one consideration. Another is the hydrogenated oils and more specifically the cottonseed oil used in the conventional peanut butter brands.
I think we each have to make the choices that are healthiest for us, even when it comes to something we tend to love so much, like peanut butter.
All natural, organic peanut butters may cost a few cents more, are just as tasty, may have a slightly different texture, but are void of anything harmful and full of everything healthy. It’s a healthy choice we can make without sacrificing our own personal enjoyment…..a good old fashioned pb&j!!!!