As with lots of foods, everyone seems to have a different opinion about whether or not 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, vegetable oil and salt content.
Is Peanut Butter Healthy?
Peanut butter can be healthy in moderate amounts. Here’s an overview of its health benefits and potential negative effects.
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:
- Antioxidants (mainly found in the skins)
- 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)
Potentially Harmful Effects
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.
How to Choose a Healthy Peanut Butter
Choosing a healthy peanut butter is quite straightforward. Look for the following things:
- High peanut content –The healthiest peanut butters are made from 100% peanuts, with no added preservatives, salt or sugar.
- No added sugar – Peanuts naturally contain small amounts of sugar (about 3 g per 100 g). Added sugar increases the calorie content.
- Vegetable oil free
- Low in salt
List of the Healthiest Peanut Butter Brands
Here’s a list of the healthiest peanut butter brands we could find on the market in the UK in 2019. We looked for brands that met our criteria of having high peanut content, no added sugar or vegetable oil, and being low in salt.
Some people find these peanut butters to be dry or bland in taste. They can take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to sweet peanut butter packed with added sugar.
Since these peanut butters are all very similar, it’s hard to say which is the #1 healthiest. That’s why we have listed them in alphabetical order rather than in a ranking.
Aldi The Foodie Market Crunchy Peanut Butter
Price range: £
Peanut content: 100%
Calories per 100g: 628kcal
This cheap peanut butter available only in Aldi is ideal if you want a healthy peanut butter but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
It’s free from palm oil and doesn’t contain any added sugar or vegetable oil, so it’s good for both the environment and your health.
- 100% peanuts, with nothing added
- Comes in a glass jar (more eco-friendly)
- Only available in Aldi
- Not organic
This peanut butter is definitely worth trying. It compares well against more expensive brands and also comes in a recyclable glass jar, so you can do your bit for reducing plastic waste.
Biona Organic Peanut Butter Crunchy
Price Range: ££
Ingredients: Organic peanuts, sea salt
Peanut content: 99%+
Calories per 100 g: 623kcal
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
Peanut content: 100%
Calories per 100g: 564kcal
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!
Morrisons 100% Peanut Butter
Peanut content: 100%
Calories per 100g: 606kcal
Price range: £
Here’s another good supermarket brand of peanut butter. Morrisons 100% Peanut Butter is made from 100% peanuts, with no added sugar or palm oil.
It’s available in either a crunchy or smooth variety, both of which have exactly the same ingredients and calorie content.
- Palm oil free
- Available in both crunchy and smooth
- Comes in a plastic jar
- Only available in Morrisons
- Not organic
If you shop in Morrisons, this peanut butter is a good alternative to more expensive natural peanut butter brands.
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.
Calorie Content Compared
According to MyFitnessPal, 100 g of peanuts contain 567 calories.
It’s interesting that different peanut butters with a 100% peanut content list quite different figures for their calorie content.
This could be due to:
- Skins on vs. off – Peanut butters made with the skins could have a different calorie content.
- Roasting method – Oil roasting results in a higher calorie content than dry roasting.
- Variety of peanut – Some varieties of peanuts have a lower calorie content. Virginia peanuts have slightly less calories than Valencia peanuts.
|Product||Peanut content||Calories per 100 g|
|Aldi The Foodie Market Crunchy Peanut Butter||100%||628kcal|
|ASDA Smart Price Crunchy Peanut Butter||88%||634kcal|
|Duchy Organic Smooth & Spreadable Peanut Butter||91%||637kcal|
|Manilife Original Peanut Butter||99.1%||623kcal|
|Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter||100%||596kcal|
|Morrisons 100% Peanut Butter||100%||606kcal|
|Sun-Pat Smooth Peanut Butter||94%||610kcal|
|The Protein Works Peanut Butter||100%||564kcal|
|Whole Earth Crunchy Peanut Butter||97%||643 kcal|
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!
Peanut Butter FAQs
What is the healthiest peanut butter to eat?
The healthiest peanut butter to eat is peanut butter without added sugar and vegetable oil. We have listed several brands that meet these criteria above.
What’s the lowest calorie peanut butter in the UK?
According to our research, the lowest calorie peanut butter in the UK is Protein Works’ Peanut Butter, which contains 564 calories per hundred grams.
Is peanut butter good for weight loss?
Peanut butter could help with weight loss by preventing cravings for less healthy foods.
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, as long as you’re eating it as a substitute for even higher calorie foods.
This article on VeryWellFit.com 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.
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.
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:
If you’re looking for a low calorie peanut butter, the lowest calorie option we could find was The Protein Works Peanut Butter at 564 kcal per 100 g.
In terms of overall health effects, there isn’t much difference between the peanut butters listed here. Remember to eat peanut butter in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet.