Home Household & Pantry Which of these ‘healthy’ peanut butters tastes best?

Which of these ‘healthy’ peanut butters tastes best?

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Four sugar-free peanut butters in jars

The contenders

The peanut butters (PBs) we assembled were of the ‘smooth’ variety (not crunchy), and each label stated that no salt or sugar was added. We bought the 400g jars, and the ambient temperature in the kitchen was 27°C.

  • Black Cat – R42.99
  • Yum Yum – R35.99
  • Woolworths Food – R38.99
  • Pick n Pay Livewell – R33.99

All four peanut butters are halaal and kosher certified. (Prices: third quarter 2023)

Black Cat

According to its label, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) has approved this peanut butter as part of its eating plan. The ingredients are listed as peanuts (minimum 99 percent) and stabiliser E471, a class of synthetic fats made from glycerol and natural fatty acids derived from plants and animals. The only allergen listed is peanuts.

Yum Yum

This one was approved as part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation eating plan too. The listed ingredients are peanuts, vegetable oil, the preservative TBHQ, and hydrogenated vegetable oil (canola seed, soybean, cottonseed). Indicated allergens are peanuts and soybeans. The label notes that this PB is suitable for vegans.

Woolworths Food

The label does not indicate suitability for any dietary preferences. Listed ingredients are peanuts (96 percent), vegetable oil, the preservative TBHQ, and hydrogenated vegetable oil (palm fruit). In addition to listing peanuts as an allergen, Woollies mentions that the product is made in a factory that uses soybean.

Pick n Pay Livewell

Again, in addition to the nutritional information, the label only lists the ingredients. The product contains peanuts (90 percent), vegetable oil, TBHQ, and hydrogenated vegetable oil (canola seed, soybean, and cottonseed). While the words “peanuts” and “soybean” are printed in bold among the list of ingredients, it does not explicitly label these as allergens.

Taste and texture

The Black Cat and Woolworths Food peanut butters had a smooth and glossy appearance, while the Yum Yum and Pick n Pay peanut butters had a matt finish and looked a bit dry.

Black Cat and Yum Yum

Black Cat had a good, even consistency and a silky texture. However, despite claiming to have the highest peanut concentration, it tasted bland. Second-guessing myself, I asked a second tester, because I feared my sense of taste had failed. But tester two agreed the Black Cat’s taste did not differ much from that of margarine.

Yum Yum was as dry as it looked, with an underwhelming taste – more oil than peanut, despite its dryness.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay

Woolworths Food was spreadable and smooth, with a balanced peanut flavour.

The Pick n Pay Livewell PB was not as dry as Yum Yum, although they had the same appearance, and Livewell had a stronger peanut flavour. In future, I might buy this for my own pantry if no other options are available at my local supermarket.

The best healthy peanut butter is…

The taste, consistency, and texture of the Woolworths Food peanut butter made it a clear winner. It has a high peanut content and the lowest vegetable preservative content, which might explain the great taste. It’s generally accepted that Woolies’ products are of a high quality, but more expensive. Yet it turned out a 400g jar of Woolies’ peanut butter was R4 cheaper than Black Cat’s.

Four open peanut butter jars

Important considerations

Although no sugar or salt were added to the products we evaluated, they are not completely free of these ingredients because they occur naturally in most food types. When the manufacturer says “no added xyz” it does not mean the product is completely free of it. If you are concerned about hidden sugar and salt, scrutinise the nutritional information on the label.

The palm oil in peanut butter is of some concern, given the negative environmental impact of its production.

Health shops do sell what is referred to as pure peanut butter, but it’s usually more expensive than the mainstream stuff and not always low in sugar and salt. ButtaNutt’s range of healthier peanut and other nut butters are also available from many grocery stores, but they usually cost more.

Bonus serving suggestion

My favourite quick snack is a Granny Smith apple with peanut butter. It’s an excellent fibre-and-protein punch to get you through the mid-afternoon slump.

And finally, a recipe

Peanut butter dog biscuits

These no-salt, no-sugar peanut butters are ideal for baking dog biscuits. If you use a peanut butter not listed above, make sure it does not contain xylitol, as it is toxic to dogs. Apart from that, peanut butter, in moderation, is a healthy food for dogs. Store in the fridge (in an airtight container) for up to two months or frozen for up to eight months.

Ingredients

300g whole wholewheat flour

1 large egg

270g peanut butter

1 cup water

2 tablespoons of honey

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • Combine the flour and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the peanut butter, water, and honey.
  • Stir until you have a stiff dough. The dough will become very firm and sticky. Then, it’s time to get your hands dirty!
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1 cm thick.
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.
  • Place on the baking sheet and bake for 18 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Smaller cookies will bake faster. Keep an eye on it to avoid your cookies burning.
  • Set aside to let cool.

These biscuits are perfect for your pups but are safe for humans too, if you can’t resist the temptation.

Recipe from The Cookie Rookie

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