How To Know If The Peanut Butter You're Eating Is Bad For You

There are people who love peanut butter and then there are people who really love peanut butter. If you fall in the latter camp — i.e. you're the type who happily spoons it straight out of the jar — you aren't alone. According to Statista, nearly 300 million Americans consumed the nutty spread in 2020 alone, and Spoon University reports that it's estimated that the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they graduate high school. Loving peanut butter isn't necessarily a bad addiction to have. After all, the popular condiment is packed with protein and healthy fats, both of which can benefit your body.

However, not all peanut butter is created equal, and some of the jars you see on the shelf at the grocery store are less healthy than others. How do you pick the one that's best for you? Here's what to look for the next time you're shopping for peanut butter.

The less ingredients in your peanut butter, the better

While peanut butter contains some good-for-you things — like protein, fat, and other vitamins and minerals — it can also be packed with added sugars, oils, chemicals, and calories. To make sure you're picking the healthiest jar, Healthline recommends looking for one with minimal ingredients, ideally just peanuts and salt. Avoid any that have hydrogenated or palm oils (which are "bad" fats that can raise your cholesterol levels, according to Berkeley Wellness) or added sugars, which can lead to health issues like diabetes or obesity and pack in calories, as well (via National Library of Medicine).

Real Simple warns that you should also be wary of labels like "natural" or "fat-free." Even peanut butter with these labels can contain a lot of added sugars, so your best bet is to always look at the ingredients list. Three popular varieties that dietitians recommended to Real Simple are Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter, Trader Joe's Organic Valencia Peanut Butter, and Smucker's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter.