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 ;).