DETROIT – Peanut butter is popular with children and adults, but nutrition experts said many people could be choosing a healthier spread.
Peanut butter -- or any nut butter -- is a good source of healthy, mono-unsaturated fat, protein, potassium and vitamin E. But to get the biggest benefits, you want to minimize any surprise ingredients.
"The first ingredients are made from roasted peanuts and sugar," dietitian Brittany Link said.
Sugar and oil are common ingredients in many popular brands of peanut butter. Even a brand with honey doesn't mean it's only sweetened with honey. There are often additional grams of sugar.
To increase your peanut butter benefits, Link recommended looking for a jar that specifically says, "Only one ingredient," meaning just peanuts.
"You just want to make sure that you're looking at the back of the ingredient label and seeing that it just says one ingredient," Link said.
It can be more convenient to buy popular brands, but it's also possible to make a healthier version yourself by grinding nut butter -- if that's offered at your stores.
If you prefer a peanut butter powder, which is popular among athletes, it's important to know that you're losing some of the benefits.
"That fat is also what keeps you satisfied," Link said. "So if you're putting this into your smoothie or you're consuming something, I want you to also have some fat in there. Otherwise, you're probably going to end up going for more later."
Dietitians often recommend pairing nut butter with a carbohydrate such as fruit or bread because it helps to stabilize blood sugar and keeps you feeling full longer.