Welcome to my new feature, Carrot of the Week.
Every Wednesday, I'll share my favorite nutritional tips, tidbits, factoids or interesting observations to help improve your health and nutritional knowledge, one bite at a time.
Let me know what you think - and be sure to check back each Wednesday for new Carrots and Cupcakes of the week!
Carrot of the Week: Peanut Butter
At our house, our whole family loves peanut butter. It's a good source of protein, iron and fiber - and, it's generally low in sugar, sodium and cholesterol. And if you are mindful of how much you're spreading on your sandwich (or banana in my case), it can be easy to control your calorie and fat intake.
But not all peanut butter is created equal. Does your favorite pass the test?
Check the ingredient list. If your brand contains molasses, palm oil, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, corn syrup solids or mono- and diglycerides, then dump it. All of those ingredients are unnecessary fillers - and add way too much sugar, calories and unhealthy fats, like trans fats.
And check out the percentage of peanuts in the product - many brands (like Jif) have only 60% peanuts. Why pay good money for that?
Look for peanut butters with just one ingredient: peanuts. You can get peanuts and salt, but honestly, the salt doesn't add any extra flavor - just excess sodium. With just one ingredient, you'll be getting 100% peanuts. And trust me; the taste is so much better and way more "peanutty" without all the junky ingredients. You'll be cutting back on the added sugar, salt and calories, and still be getting all of the healthy fiber, protein and iron.
Smuckers, Laura Scudder, Central Market brand and Sprouts brand are examples of simple peanut butters with just one or two ingredients. Yes, you will have to stir in the oil on top, but that is a small inconvenience for a healthier - and tastier - peanut butter.
And lastly, don't be fooled by Reduced Fat or "natural" labels. Reduced fat typically adds more salt, sugar or other fillers to bump up the taste and texture, while "natural" isn't always what you think it is.
Read the label and check the ingredient list to be sure you're getting the real deal.