Modern grocery stores put their predecessors to shame with the number of items available for purchase. Gone are the days when grocery stores featured roughly 12 aisles and stocked shelves primarily with food and beverages. Modern grocery stores are much larger and feature everything from traditional groceries to kitchen essentials, clothing and more.
Consumers undoubtedly prefer there to be more choices at the grocery store, but it can be difficult to make decisions when presented with so many options. Such is the case when picking out peanut butter. Modern grocery stores typically feature an array of peanut butters in various styles (creamy, chunky, etc.) and others with packaging noting ingredients that the average consumer may know little about. That can make it hard to decide which peanut butter to bring home and which to leave behind on the store shelf.
According to the National Peanut Board, regulations established by the United States Food and Drug Administration mandate that any product labeled as peanut butter must contain at least 90% peanuts. Products that fall short of that benchmark must be labeled as peanut butter spreads. Recognition of that regulation can help consumers rest easy knowing that whichever peanut butter they choose, the product is almost entirely peanuts.
So, is all peanut butter effectively the same? No. Many natural peanut butters contain exclusively peanuts, which might make them preferable to health-conscious consumers who want to limit their consumption of salt and sweeteners that can be found in products that qualify as peanut butter but don’t qualify as natural peanut butter.
Reading ingredient lists on product labels can help consumers make the most informed decision when choosing which peanut butter to purchase. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database notes some significant distinctions between natural peanut butter made from only peanuts and alternative peanut butter with additional ingredients. For example, the National Peanut Board reports that, according to USDA data, a 2-tablespoon serving of natural peanut butter contains zero milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of sugar. By contrast, the same serving of an alternative peanut butter contains 5 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of sugar. Natural peanut butter also contains less saturated fat and more protein than alternative peanut butter. Some consumers may deem these differences negligible, while others may appreciate the nutrition profile of natural peanut butter
Peanut butter lovers seemingly have more options to choose from than ever before. Knowledge of the differences between products and recognition that peanut butter and peanut butter spreads are not one and the same can help consumers make the most informed decision.
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