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How Much Healthier is Organic Peanut Butter?

Is organic really always better? Find out here the actual difference between organic and conventionally produced peanut butter!

The question isn’t quite as simple as organic vs. conventional. Many things need to be considered including the nutrition value, cost, how the peanuts were grown and processed, hydrogenation levels and added ingredients!

To start with, organic peanut butter means that the peanuts were grown on a farm that limits the use of pesticides, especially synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. The farms must also work to promote healthy ecological balance and biodiversity. Additionally, all the other ingredients in the peanut butter must be organically grown to achieve that title, this can be especially important for some common additives like palm oil. Overall, organic farming methods are better for the planet and the environment.

Natural peanut butter can be organic or conventionally produced. Natural peanut butter means it hasn't been hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated. Hydrogenation in some peanut butters is what helps to keep the peanut butter smooth, creamy, and unseparated. You can often tell if a peanut butter is natural because there will be a layer of oil on the top of the peanut butter that needs to be mixed in. This separation of the peanut oil and the peanut butter is normal. Hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation is the process which turns an unsaturated fat into a saturated solid fat or trans-fat. Saturated and trans fats are associated with poor health outcomes.

Conventional peanut butters can often have multiple added ingredients, like sugar and other additives that can increase shelf life or prevent separation of oil from the peanut butter. Natural peanut butter tends to have two ingredients, peanuts, and salt, but conventional peanut butter can have many different ingredients including molasses, sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oils, stabilizers, and others. All these added ingredients result in a lot of extra calories or added sugars to your diet.

Aflatoxin is a common mold that grows on peanuts. Aflatoxin is also a carcinogenic compound that can possibly lead to an increased risk of cancer. However, Alfatoxin grows on both organic and conventionally grown peanuts, so it isn’t an added factor when choosing which to purchase.

In the past, one of the biggest deciding factors between organic and conventionally grown was the cost. Nowadays, grocery stores often offer store-branded organic peanut butter at similar prices to conventional peanut butters. Overall, organic peanut butter or other organic nut butters seem like the best route to go!

[Image via Shutterstock]

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