As with lots of foods, everyone seems to have a different opinion about whether peanut butter is healthy and why.
One thing that everyone agrees on though is that some peanut butters are healthier than others, in particular those with the lowest sugar and salt content.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Peanuts can help to keep your heart healthy and can possibly even stave off chronic diseases and possibly even reduce the risk of mortality in those who consume an average of 10 grams per day (source).
Peanuts are good way to meet lots of your dietary requirements, as they contain:
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
This doesn’t mean you should grab a packet of salted peanuts or that jar of peanut butter and polish it off, as peanuts are healthiest when consumed in their natural state.
Many peanut butters add in vegetable fats and extra salt, which can take away from the healthy elements of the nuts, but more recently, more health-conscious brands have been competing to create the healthiest peanut butter on the market.
When you buy a regular jar of peanut butter, there are a few ingredients to look out for which might make your choice of peanut butter less healthy than you might think.
Frequent additions to peanut butter can include:
- Vegetable oil
- Palm oil (which also often produced in an unsustainable way)
Many healthy peanut butter brands consist of 100% roasted peanuts, but some still have a couple of additives. Below are some of the healthiest peanut butters available right now in the UK.
They aren’t in exact order of healthiness, as it’s difficult to say exactly which is the healthiest.
Nevertheless, they all contain far fewer additives than cheaper brands.
Healthiest Peanut Butters in the UK
Biona Organic Peanut Butter Crunchy
Price Range: ££
Ingredients: Organic peanuts, sea salt
The only ingredients in Biona Organic Peanut Butter are organic peanuts and sea salt, so it has a very simple recipe.
The amount of salt is minimal at just 0.6g per 100g of peanut butter, so this is pretty good and will not pose a problem when consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
If you like to get your daily salt intake from other foods (which is recommended no more than 6g per day), then you may want to check out the Bulk Powders Natural Roasted Peanut Butter below as it’s salt-free.
- Organic peanuts
- Decent price (better deal when bought in bulk)
- Added salt
- A little dry
- Not all that sweet
If you’re used to a sweeter taste of peanut butter, this one may take a little getting used to, but this lets you know it’s healthier!
Because there is no oil added, this peanut butter tends to separate quite a lot which means you might need a bit of elbow grease to stir it back to a spreadable condition.
Bulk Powders Natural Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter
Price Range: £
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts
Bulk Powders Natural Roasted Peanut Butter contains only 100% peanuts, so it’s one of the peanut butter brands without palm oil in our list.
It is pretty cheap to buy, which may be reflected in the quality of the packaging.
Some people have complained that the plastic container shattered as they took the lid off.
- Made from 100% roasted peanuts
- Cheap to buy
- Not as crunchy as some other “crunchy” peanut butters
- Container plastic can be brittle
- Some may find it a little powdery
Bulk Powders are a brand which specialises in health and wellness products, so this PB is sold on the premise of being a high calorie, protein and fibre-rich food.
It’s a popular brand among gymgoers and bodybuilders, but the simple ingredients mean this is a healthy peanut butter for anyone.
Meridian Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter
Price Range: ££
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts – whole skin on
Meridian Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter is one of the few manufacturers who produce their butter leaving the peanut skin on.
After the roasting process, the skins take on a really robust texture and flavour which makes this peanut butter very tasty.
The overall look of the peanut butter is slightly darker than other varieties due to the skin on process.
- Made from 100% skin-on peanuts
- Skin left on during roasting – adds depth to flavour
- Wholesome taste
- Relatively well priced (better price when bought in bulk)
- Can separate really easily
- Can be a little difficult to stir
- Might be better in a jar – tub seal isn’t as airtight
This PB gets some really good customer reviews and is one of the most popular on this list.
Out of all of the butters in this list, Meridian might be the best peanut butter for weight loss as the natural flavourings are great for satiating food cravings!
The Protein Works Peanut Butter
Price Range: £££
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts
The Protein Works Peanut Butter is the only smooth butter in this list and is another peanut butter without palm oil.
This is the priciest PB in our line-up and their crunchy version is even more expensive.
With just peanuts making up 100% of its recipe, it does leave you wondering how they can charge more for the same ingredients as the other products on the market.
- Made with 100% roasted peanuts
- Produced in the UK
- Great natural taste
- Relatively expensive (priciest on the list)
- Packaging can be tough to open and close
Similar to the Bulk Powders brand, this product is sold as a protein product which can be used to help bulk up and add healthy calories to a diet, so may appeal to gym-lovers or bodybuilders.
When it comes to the product as food, there are plenty of positive reviews which state how wholesome this PB tastes.
Whole Earth Crunchy Original Delicious Peanut Butter
Price Range: £
Ingredients: Peanuts, palm oil, sea salt
Whole Earth Crunchy Peanut Butter is actually the only spread in the list which contains palm oil and also contains salt.
Palm oil is often included in the recipe of peanut butters as it helps to keep the butter from separating. Without palm oil, you might have to stir your peanut butter before using it.
Palm oil is a controversial subject due to the ways in which it is farmed – it has caused large areas of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Activist organisation Say No to Palm Oil has some more info on the negative effects of palm oil farming here.
However, Whole Earth only use sustainable palm oil, and have a page defending their use of palm oil here.
- Cheap to buy & readily available
- Made in the UK
- Usually sold with long sell-by dates
- Tasty peanut butter
- Contains palm oil
- Added salt in ingredients
Whole Earth is a pretty popular brand of peanut butter which is found in the majority of UK supermarkets, but is Whole Earth peanut butter healthy?
Their name may lead you to believe it is one of the healthier brands, however in our list today, it is probably the least healthy since palm oil actually contains a fair amount of saturated fat and also has added salt.
This doesn’t mean it is bad for you – if consumed in recommended amounts it can actually be a part of a healthy balanced diet.
Any of the above products which don’t contain any additional ingredients are probably your best bet if you’re looking for the absolute healthiest option.
This means choosing either Meridian, The Protein Works or Bulk Powders.
However, if you want a bit of added salt or don’t mind a bit of sustainable palm oil to improve the consistency, Whole Earth and Biona Organic could be good choices.
Meridian vs. Whole Earth Peanut Butter
These two brands are both readily available in supermarkets and health food stores and seem to be very well known in the UK. Here’s a quick overview of the differences.
Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter:
- Slightly more expensive
- Leave the skins on
- No added salt or palm oil
Whole Earth Crunchy Peanut Butter
- A bit cheaper
- Some added salt and palm oil
Meridian peanut butter is probably healthier since it doesn’t contain any added ingredients. However, some people prefer the taste and consistency of Whole Earth. The choice is up to you!
Can Peanut Butter Help with Weight Loss?
Although peanuts are best for you when they are consumed in their natural state, there are still benefits to eating peanut butter when trying to manage your weight.
Peanut butter is sometimes a more convenient way to consume your daily intake of nuts and many like to combine it into their snack routine; sometimes eaten between two slices of apple.
Peanuts are filled with fatty acids which sounds bad, but these are monounsaturated fats which are actually considered healthy fats when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Peanut butter is very calorie-dense and is often consumed by bodybuilders trying to gain weight.
However, eating moderate amounts of it can be quite helpful if you’re looking to lose weight.
This article on Verywellfit has some links to different research studies that found that snacking on peanut butter helped people curb their appetite and feel full, preventing them from snacking on less healthy foods.
Peanut butter, of course, tastes really great (if you like it) so almost acts as a treat which can help people to stick to a diet more effectively.
Making Your Own Peanut Butter
One way to ensure you’re eating something really healthy is to make it yourself.
The simplest peanut butter recipe involves food processing roasted peanuts (which you can do yourself to ensure no extra salt is added) until they form a smooth spread.
During the blending process, you could add a little salt or even honey to help get the spreadable consistency of a smooth butter. You could blend it for less time to leave you with a crunchier texture.
If you want to get a smooth texture you could experiment with adding vegetable or olive oil, instead of palm oil.
Here’s a short YouTube video that shows how to make your own peanut butter:
Potentially Harmful Effects of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is generally considered to be healthy in moderate amounts, but there are some potentially harmful effects of eating too much.
- Too much omega 6 – Most people in the UK consume two much omega 6 and not enough omega 3.
An omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 4:1 is recommended, but for most people in the Western world this ratio is at least 12:1.
Peanuts contain virtually no omega 3, and have about 5,000 times as much omega 6 as omega 3, so they’re not good for your overall omega 3 to 6 balance.
If you eat a lot of peanut butter, it might be a good idea to also take an omega 3 supplement, or up your intake of omega 3-rich fish such as sardines and mackerel.
- Mould and fungus growth – Peanuts are grown on the ground where they can get moist and acquire mould and fungus. This is linked to allergies, and some mould found in peanut butter can even be a carcinogen.
- Oxalates – Peanut butter is high in oxalates, which can cause kidney stones.
Naturaler is a UK website full of tips and recommendations for living a more eco-friendly, chemical-free and natural lifestyle.