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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Help! Should I Buy Regular, Reduced-Fat or Natural Peanut Butter?

Posted by Jenna Smith -

I'm always amused by how our country seems to have a national day for almost anything. For instance, you may not have known that April 2nd was National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. I, for one, think that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of the most ingenious ideas that were brought to this earth. Anyone who really knows me understands that I have a bit of an obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hey! They are not just for kids!

If you ever worried that all those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you were feeding your child were "bad" think again! While it's true that children and adults should be eating a variety of foods and not just live off of one or two "go-to" meals, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be a healthy addition to one's diet. Peanut butter is a wonderful source of protein and dietary fiber to keep us feeling full and satisfied. But what about all that fat you say? Well, the majority of fat is unsaturated fat. And remember, these monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy with cholesterol lowering properties.

Do you buy reduced-fat peanut butter? Well, you may want to think again. Let's compare labels of one brand of peanut butter:

Regular Peanut Butter

(2 Tbsp)

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

(2 Tbsp)

Natural Peanut Butter

(2 Tbsp)

190 Calories

190 Calories

190 Calories

16 g Total fat

12 g Total fat

16 g Total fat

2.5 g Saturated fat

2.0 g Saturated fat

3 g Saturated fat

0 Trans fat

0 g Trans fat

0 g Trans fat

140 mg sodium

220 mg sodium

80 mg sodium

3 g sugar

4 g sugar

3 g sugar

As you can see, all three peanut butters have the same amount of calories. The reduced-fat peanut butter has less total fat, but roughly the same amount of saturated fats. This means that all they did was take away some of the "good" (unsaturated) fats! Plus, they added more sodium and sugar. Sneaky, sneaky!  Regular peanut butter would actually be a better choice.

But natural peanut butter is probably the best choice. Not only does it have the lowest amount of sodium, but it should also have zero trans fat. You see, while all 3 of these peanut butters say "0 g trans fat" you can't be certain that it's the absolute truth. Products are able to have up to 0.5 grams of trans fat and still label their product as 0 g trans fat. Doubly sneaky!! The only way you can tell if there are trans fats is by looking at the ingredients. If it says "hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil" there is a good chance that there are at least some trans fats in that product. And because they can have such a negative effect on our health, we want to aim for 0.0 in our diets!

If buying natural peanut butter, stir it before using to mix the oil and butter together.  Try this amazing peanut butter cookie recipe that uses quinoa, an extremely healthy grain!

Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies (Printable PDF)

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups water

1 cup old fashion oats

¼ cup ground flaxseed

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup peanut butter (natural or regular)

¼ cup honey

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Let cooked quinoa cool. Meanwhile, grind oats in a food processor or coffee grinder to an almost flour like consistency and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix cooled quinoa, peanut butter and honey. Stir in oats, flaxseed and salt until well- combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Drop 1 tablespoon-size mounds on ungreased baking sheet. Press them flat with the bottom of a small drinking glass. Bake for 18 minutes or until slightly golden. Let cool.

Yield: about 36 cookies

Adapted from Kids Eat Right

Nutritional analysis per serving (1 cookie): 60 Calories, 3 grams fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 45 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 2 grams protein

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Email will not display publicly, it is used only for validating comment

Hi Jenna, Saw the Tweet about PB&J and reduced fat (Thanks for answering the question). Also thanks for the Quinoa recipe -- just started eating Quinoa. By the way, congratulations! Mrs. Smith! I'll try and call sometime to see how you're doing. Sincerely, JT
by Judy Taylor on Sunday 4/15/2012

Thanks Judy! I'm glad you've found my blog useful. And thanks for the congrats. Hope to talk to you soon.
by Jenna Smith on Monday 4/16/2012