More than 50% of the peanuts grown are eaten in the form of peanut butter. 700 million pounds of peanut butter is consumed every year in America. There is confusion concerning the types of peanut butter that we eat – what is the difference between commercial and "natural" peanut butter? And are both types healthy?
To be called peanut butter, both commercial and "natural" types must contain a minimum of 90% peanuts, with no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. This includes the chunky version. Commercial peanut butters are blended or homogenized for convenience and for creaminess, whereas "natural" peanut butters require stirring and are not as smooth in texture.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the addition of hydrogenated vegetable oils to peanut butter as stabilizers was not found to result in measurable amounts of trans fatty acids.
If small amounts of partially hydrogenated oils are used, even as a stabilizer, it is required that they be listed, even if the primary ingredient is peanuts.
Consumption of peanut butter can contribute to improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of disease.
Peanut butter is also an excellent source of plant protein. A small serving of 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter contributes to daily protein intake. Meat products carry saturated fat and cholesterol, and are void of fiber. Peanut butter is a great substitution as it is much less expensive, filling and contains fiber.
Peanut butter is packed with nutrients such as copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, folate and the antioxidant Vitamin E.