No Trans Fat in Peanut Butter After All

I’ve been enjoying natural peanut butter for about a year now. I first turned to it so I could avoid the trans fat in regular peanut butter.

Trans fat is created when liquid oils are turned into solids by adding hydrogen. And, food manufaturers like hydrogenated oils since they don’t separate like liquid oils. However, trans fat is also the worst kind of fat — it raises the “bad ” cholesterol while lowering the “good” cholesterol (even saturated fat leaves doesn’t affect good cholesterol).

You would think trans fat would be included on food labels, but that only goes into effect in 2006. So, in the meantime, you just have to look for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils among the ingredients.

So, to avoid the trans fat, I went with natural peanut butter (which isn’t hydrogenized). However, I’ve learned that a study by the Agricultural Research Service — a part of the USDA — says that there’s no trans fat in peanut butter (natural or otherwise).

To see if the rumors had any validity, Sanders prepared 11 brands of peanut butter, including major store brands and “natural” brands, for analysis by a commercial laboratory. He also sent paste freshly prepared from roasted peanuts for comparison. The laboratory found no detectable trans fats in any of the samples, with a detection limit of 0.01 percent of the sample weight. […]

When I switched over, it took some time to get used to natural peanut butter; in particular, since its oil is in liquid form, the peanut butter can more easily slide off foods (such as apple slices). And, this study may be reason enough to switch back. In fact, just this weekend, I made an Elvis sandwich with regular peanut butter. And, that made for a tasty sandwich.

But, after tasting some regular peanut butter with a spoon, I realized that it didn’t quite have as much peanut taste as the natural peanut butter. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I soon realized that the sugar in the regular peanut butter may have masked some of the peanut flavor. So, I may look for some regular peanut butter next time I’m in Target, but I’m not sure if sugar-free regular peanut butter even exists ;).

25 thoughts on “No Trans Fat in Peanut Butter After All

  1. I don’t know, dude. I just went to the store and read the ingredients for “Peter Pan Crunchy” and it included “partially hydrogenated soybean oil.” That sounds like a trans fat to me.

  2. I’m just finding this post now, so I hope you get to see a “latest comments” list, but the nutrition labels on peanut butter and several other things now say they contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil but no trans fat. I thought the two were synonymous, so I went Googling for more information and found this.

  3. I am just now looking at this, having only recently been educated about trans fats. Frankly, I am not convinced by the USDA. Nor am I convinced that the USDA is truly “independent” of pressure from commercial peanut butter producers. I’ll go with one of the natural brands where partially hydrogenated oils are not used.

  4. It’s up to you, John. Personally, I prefer the taste of natural peanut butters, so I’ll continue enjoying them either way :).

  5. I found this on a peanut site:

    “Regular peanut butter does contain a tiny, tiny amount (far less than 1%) of partially hydrogenated oil. It keeps the oil from separating out of the peanut butter and rising to the top of the jar, makes the peanut butter creamier, and dramatically increases the shelf life of the peanut butter.”

    I too have made it a mission to avoid trans-fats, and discovered the label on Jif (I think) saying there were no trans-fats, where the ingredients clearly listed partially hydrogenated something or other. I just can’t eat the natural stuff, it’s oily and slimy and if it sits too long, impossible to stir the oil back in.

  6. If the detection limit used was 1%, that sounds like one of convenience. They should be able to measure smaller amounts than that. It sounds like the detection limit was adjusted to suit someone. I don’t see anyone posting actual numbers as to how much partially hydrogenated oil there is. My understanding is they can post 0 trans fats as long as there is less than half a gram in a serving. A serving is two tablespoons. One percent would be 4.5 grams of trans fat per 454 gram jar.

    I am on a peanut butter diet. On this diet, I have 8 tablespoons a day of peanut butter. That is four servings. If there is 1% trans fats in that then I am getting 128 grams of peanut butter or 1.28 grams of trans fats. I don’t know exactly how poisonous they are, so don’t know if this will hurt a person.

    Of course with 1.28 grams of trans fats, thats .32 grams per serving so they can claim zero by the government regulations. So, the label will say zero trans fats, undetectable but you are getting 0.32 grams per serving.

    As far as the natural peanut butter, true you have to stir it, but then you can put it in the fridge and it won’t separate so easily. Because I eat four servings a day and there are only 16 servings in a jar, a jar will last me for only four days so I don’t have to worry about it going bad.

  7. I went looking for a sugar free peanut butter for the same reason as everybody else. Publix has a natural peanut butter that I really like. To solve the oil floating to the top problem I open the new jar (always a glass jar) and use a table knife to get the peanut butter into a wide round plastic tub with a lid (generic tupperware). That makes the peanut butter easy to stir and it just doesn’t seem to settle as much without refridgeration. To clean the tub use a paper towel after scraping it…the dishwasher just cooks it on.

  8. i was watching oprah today and the Dr. Oz on there says “partially hydrogenated oil IS trans fat” and thats whats in all peanut butter that isnt natural! so i started googling and here i am LOL. he also pointed out with the woman he was demonstrating with that the peanut butter in her cabinet was the worst one out there out of all the brands. they tried to hide the brand, but i could tell it was Jif. thats the kind i have in MY cabinet. guess its time to do some more reasearch, either that or try to get used to that watery natural crap. and to the person who commented above me, who the heck REFRIGERATES peanut butter anyway?

  9. check this out:

    Most of the major brands of peanut butter contain partially hydrogenated oils, which we recommend that you avoid (see report #N185.) Partially hydrogenated oils are solid at room temperature, so the peanut butter manufacturers use them to keep the oil from separating and to give their products a very long shelf life. They don’t have to add very much partially hydrogenated oil, but it is there – look at the list of ingredients. They try to fool you because if the amount is less than .5 grams per serving, they can say “0 grams of trans fats” or “no trans fats.” A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons — so they can put as much as 8 grams of trans fats in a 16-ounce jar and still attach a label that says “No Trans Fats”!.

    so there’s your answer!

  10. Who the heck refrigerates peanut butter was what I thought at first too until I read the side of the peanut butter jar on any of the natural kinds. They pretty much say refrigerate after opening which is probably to keep the oil from separating and you from having to stir it back in again

  11. Refridgerating natural peanut butter after it is opened isn’t really to keep it from separating…although that is an added benefit. Because its natural, there are no preservatives. When peanuts turn rancid, a toxic mold called aflatoxin grows on them. Aflatoxin can cause serious problems…just google the word and you’ll find lots of info. So…refridgeration slows rancidity which decreases chances of aflatoxin. Incidentally…random tests have shown that most peanut butters tested positive for aflatoxin in varying degrees. The only one that I’m aware of that had no traces of the mold is Marantha Organic Peanut Butter. Organic of course means you don’t get the pesticides either…so this brand scores high in my book! Hope this is helpful to someone.

  12. Paul Cote said: If the detection limit used was 1%, that sounds like one of convenience. They should be able to measure smaller amounts than that. It sounds like the detection limit was adjusted to suit someone.

    Sheesh, is your reading comprehension really as bad as it appears, Paul? The detection limit was 0.01% by weight, not 1%. That’s two orders of magnitude lower. As the authors point out, the most TFA that could be in their samples (per 32g serving) is about 3/1000 of a gram, a physiologically insignificant quantity.

  13. I was one my own “peanut butter diet”, for years (decades), since I like it, and don’t easily get enough calories keep my weight up. I’m slim but athletic.

    The “skinny” is I used JIF since about 1986 or so. 1 or two sandwiches a day, sometimes a big spoonful or two 1-3 times a week instead of ice cream.

    I am now one year post a triple bypass surgery for 99% clogged cardiac arteries. Previous athleticism gave me outstanding collateral cardiac circulation, saving my heart.

    The other culprits may be the transfats in the two boxes of crackers, uusally Ritz and Wheat Thins, per week that I also indulged on, plus I had a bowl of ice cream almost every day, a 20 year habit. Be your own lab rat if you want.

    Almonds and Hazelnuts are the only nuts with high ratios of mono-unsaturated fats to saturated fats, 11:1 and 12:1. Peanuts are not quite 4 to 1. Cashews have mono fats, but 3:1 ratio mono to saturated, Low.

    Avoid the transfats, and keep saturated fats way down. After eliminating all three from my diet for 9 months post-surgery (emergency, by the way), my LDL and HDL dropped from 137/47 to 57/37. Huge drop on the LDL.

  14. Natural peanut butter isn’t so bad. When you buy a jar, stir it well. You will only have to do this once IF you keep the jar in the fridge afterwards like the instructions suggest (as the oil solidifies and does not separate). Not sweet enough? Add a little honey.

    Trans fats are bad. You only hurt yourself because your body has a very hard time metobolizing it. Just because the FDA lets manufacturers use hydrogenated anything, that doesn’t mean that they have your best interest in mind (i.e. YOUR HEALTH!). Basically, do some research. Read ingredient labels and you’ll be surprised what is “allowed” to be in your food. Stay clear from artificial/synthetic products for obvious reasons. Don’t limit yourself to cutting out trans fats alone!

  15. I am working on my ph d in biochemistry and along the way I learned quite a bit about trans fats. Without going into too much detail, trust me, its really bad stuff.

    And yes, I too wondered how these peanut butters get away with saying they have zero grams of trans fat without being natural. I personally made the switch to natural a couple years back (after finding out how their near permanency). I too was taken aback by having to refridgerate it to stop separation. I was also struck by how awful it tastes without sugar but that was quickly remedied with honey

    …of course, with honey you are ingesting cloistridium botulinum spores but compared to trans fat that is downright safe :)

  16. Thi, I think everyone agrees that trans fats are bad. The question is do commercial brands, such as my peanut butter of choice Jif, contain trans fats. The study cited by this blog says that no trans fats could be detected to a precision of 0.01%.

    You say you wonder how peanut butters can “get away with” saying they have zero grams of fat. I guess the quick answer is that because non can be detected…

  17. I am a big “nut” fan regarding the health benefits associated therewith.

    On Trans Fats:

    One doctor writes that trans fat flies “under the radar” and your body does not regard it as normal fat so does not store it in the normal areas of your body that fat is stored such as the tummy, legs and thighs. Instead it collects around major body organs such as the heart and liver.

    To determine a healthy amount of trans fat she said picture this:

    Less than 1g of trans fat a day is ok.
    2-3g and you are at an elevated risk for heart disease. 4g or more/day and you are at a high risk of developing heart disease. A large order of french fries at Mcdonalds has 5+ grams.

    If you read the labels on peanut butter as some of you have stated, it says 0 grams of trans fat so no trans fat right? Wrong! Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is trans fat.

    So, my next step was to research how much trans fat is in the peanut butter I have been eating religiously. Nearly every answer I found is that it is very insignificant.

    Perhaps the best answer from a nutritionist went like this:

    Trans fat from peanut consumption is not a concern. My concern would be the tran fat intake from fried foods, ice cream and other foods.

    My opinion:

    Don’t freak out if you have been eating peanut butter. The amount is so insignificant that it will not effect you.

    If anyone would care to contradict this I would love to hear from you as I have been eating a couple of tablespoons a day for years.


  18. Jif does have trans fats, read the label. Many peanut butter products actually have 0 trans fat, but Jif has plenty, less than .5g per serving mind you, but a serving is two tablespoons. That is precisely why it is so creamy.

    Worse yet, they pretend that it doesn’t have trans fat.

    Buy the store brand and read the label, if it says anything besides peanuts and salt, it probably has trans fat:

  19. Hmmm, odd, regular peanut butter like Skippy, with the added sugar and hydrogenated oil is like fake plastic PB. Sugar on peanuts is disgusting.
    Natural PB without sugar is incredibly good.

    I used to think it was tasty also and that natural PB was less desirable. But after cleaning up my diet now natural PB is like eating fudge. It’s so good, although I have to limit my intake to 2 servings daily. I fell for that food industry brainwashing that natural PB is weird.

    I recently sampled my Dads Skippy, ewwwww, now that I’m used to good foods it actually tastes gross. That added sugar is so obvious. It doesn’t belong there, it’s a way to make it just slightly addictive, like all sugar foods are.
    Sugar in PB?? That’s sad. We should eat sugar when we choose to, not because it’s snuck into all sorts of foods where it doesn’t belong (there is high fructose syrup in almost everything).

    When you sit down for a bowl of ice cream or eat some candy, THAT’S your sugar time. Choose it wisely and carefully. Don’t patronize foods loaded with sugar for no reason except to make it addictive. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, with added fructose corn syrup,… what??? When I put olive oil and balsamic on greens I don’t add sugar!

    Then folks get surprised when they have an emergency bypass?

    As if stirring oil into PB is so hard? Try the Stop and Shop brand, it only requires a 1 time stirring anyways and has a natural creamyness that is so much better than hydrogenated brands.

    I’m also going to try the smart Balance omega-3 brand.

  20. I was grocery shopping this morning and was struggling with the Jif label (0 trans fat but partially hydrogenated oils). Then i saw the Smart Balance creamy peanut butter (with flax oil) and bought it. I just had a piece of toast with the SB PB and agave nectar and AM SO EXCITED! Finally a choice my kids will LOVE! Started googling why Jif could label like this and here I am!!

  21. True natural peanut butter should have one ingredient. Peanuts!… period. It may have a small amount of salt added. It can have extra peanut oil for creaminess. Added trans fat is not the only fatty culprit. All saturated fats including the fats found in peanuts should be limited in the diet. Beware of palm oil, palm kernel oil and partilally hydrogenated oils, as these do not promote good coronary health. Beware of added sugar, molasses and other syrups. Don’t trust the “natural” term on the label. Read the ingredients. You and your own deserve the best.

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