“In my opinion, the only ingredient in peanut butter should be peanuts,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. “Reduced-fat [peanut butter] adds artificial sweeteners, only to save 0.5 grams of saturated fat per serving and 10 calories. The reduction simply isn’t worth it and the taste becomes too sweet, taking away from the delicious taste of peanuts.”
Cristina Rivera, a registered dietician and president of Nutrition In Motion PC, emphasizes further that not all fats are harmful. “Unsaturated fats such as nuts and peanut butter, seeds, avocado, olive oil and fish oil have numerous health benefits. Foods that contain these fats protect our heart, lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol, and fight inflammation in our bodies,” says Rivera. People should keep that in mind when thinking about opting for low-fat or reduced-fat versions of foods, she says.
In moderation, nuts and nut butters can be healthy snacks that are high in magnesium and vitamin E. Magnesium protects respiratory health and vitamin E boosts immunity and helps protect the body from tissue damage and inflammation triggered by cancer-causing free radicals.
So, when choosing a peanut butter, Rivera recommends skipping the reduced-fat versions in order to reap the full benefits of peanuts’ heart-healthy fats. “Natural or organic is the best option, and if you’re worried about the high calorie content, just be sure to practice portion control — 1 to 2 tablespoons is a serving — and stay physically active.”
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