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    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar in Peanut Butter

    smuckers_natural_pbI have noticed in perusing the plain old peanut butter jar labels that many have sugar (in the form of dextrose, I think), or oils like cottonseed oil. What’s up with that?

    It took a lot of label reading to find peanuts that had simply peanuts and salt listed as ingredients.

    — Susan (last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    You can chalk that up to a term food companies love — “shelf stability”.

    If you can create a product that can sit on store and pantry shelves for months, you have an advantage in the market.

    Consumers love shelf stability because they don’t have to worry about a food product spoiling, and can also be transported at room temperature with minimal issues.

    Another important reason?  Texture.

    The oils added to peanut butter are partially — or, more recently, fully — hydrogenated, creating that familiarly uniform and spreadable texture.

    I always recommend “natural” nut butters, which simply contain the ground up nut and, in some cases, a pinch of salt.

    Since the naturally-occurring oil in these varieties separates, you need to stir the contents of the jar first, and then refrigerate for optimal storage and freshness.

    Although conventional peanut butter brands often get slammed for containing added sugar, their sugar content isn’t that high.  A standard two-tablespoon serving only offers 2 grams (a half teaspoon) of added sugar.

    I’m more concerned about the partially hydrogenated oils, especially since the oils used are ones with awful omega 6 to omega 3 ratios.

    Here in New York City, even conventional supermarkets carry one or two “natural” brands, mainly Smuckers and the generic White Rose label.

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