Peanut Butter is Back! But Why the Added Sugar? [Skippy Natural Peanut Butter]

It was a rough start of the year for the peanut butter industry. A major recall, one of the largest in US history, sent sales of all products, even innocent ones, down. But now sales are on the rebound, according to the latest market studies. White breads and jellies across the nation are rejoicing…

In celebration, we decide to take a look at what looks like a nutritious choice – Skippy’s Natural Peanut Butter Spread.

If the label says it’s natural, it must be healthy, right?

What you need to know:

There are 4 ingredients in this version of peanut butter: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Palm Oil, Salt.

And we don’t even need a dictionary to understand what they are. And yes, they are all natural. But why add sugar to a product that is going to meet tons of sugar in the jelly on the PB&J sandwich?

And why add palm oil, which is high in saturated (bad) fat? The peanuts themselves are actually quite oily, and contain healthy unsaturated fats.

Here are the nutrition facts:

A 2 tablespoon serving contains 180 calories and 16 grams of fat. 3.5 grams are saturated, and the rest are unsaturated. There’s 150 mg of sodium, which is 7% of the daily maximum. The 6 grams of carbs include 2 grams of fiber (nice) and over 3 grams of sugar (almost teaspoon). There are also 7 grams of protein, which makes sense – nuts and seeds are high in protein and can serve as meat alternatives.

While this product is better than Skippy’s regular formulation, which includes Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (read: Trans fat), why can’t the company sell us the real deal – just one ingredient – peanuts?

A truly natural product, with just peanuts, would have 50% less saturated fat and 50% less sugar. And consumer wouldn’t feel cheated by the “Natural” labeling, which many conceive as meaning “no additional ingredient other than peanuts.”

The answer you’ll hear is that consumers want a sweeter taste (hence sugar) and a creamier texture (hence the palm oil). We don’t buy it. Use fresh roasted peanuts and you’ll get a great smooth peanut butter.

What to do at the supermarket:

Look for a pure peanut butter, one that has just one ingredient – Peanuts. Add the sweet yourself.

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  • Sharon

    Better than look for a pure peanut butter, look for a store with fresh ground peanut butter with nothing added to it. Many stores have such a product in containers and others have machines for the customer to use to grind it themselves.

  • http://www.bodyacumenllc.com/ Christine

    I just switched to the Jif all natural peanut butter. It doesn’t have added sugar, but the label says it contains less than 2% palm oil, molasses. I wonder if these ingredients help with the separation and texture. I’ve tried so many different natural peanut butters with my kids, and they wouldn’t eat them because of the texture. They love the all natural Jif. I’m so happy to have this alternative.

    • Byron

      FYI, molasses is sugar (it’s mostly sucrose). While the other components are healthier then white sugar, the sucrose is exactly the same. If the label of Jif is claiming “no added sugar” and yet adds molasses, they’re simply lying.

  • Cynthia

    While I am happy that there are some products out there that allow us to have somewhat healthier choices, I lived overseas and grew up on natural peanut butter(salt, peanuts). It seems to me that we Americans are addicted to our sugar and creamy fats. The money machine industry that produces our foods, isn’t interested in our health, they are interested in our money (along with our government – always willing to relax standards for commerce). So, we have to figure out what is in OUR best interests when it comes to food. (Perhaps some companies have an interest, but the bottom line is always money, whereas the government knows that healthy old people cost more than those who die much younger!)

    I think the only way this will be accomplished is when we bring our children up on the non-processed pure foods and they associate THAT with the feel-good feelings of childhood. We seem to worry about mold in our schools, or illnesses that have symptoms, but we are okay with poisoning our children because we’re afraid they won’t eat because they don’t like it. Hunger will take care of that. Our children are obese, a missed meal isn’t going to harm them. Feeding them what we consider to be a minor compromise of slightly unhealthy food because the consequences won’t be realized until they’re in their forties (actually, if they’re lucky) seems to be acceptable. We don’t seem to care if they have to cope with health problems caused by obesity or have to cope with obesity itself, because, you know, they’re big-boned and those charts aren’t really accurate. Actually, we care, but it’s all too much work. I learned that lesson when I worked in pediatrics. Parents care, but if the consequences aren’t immediate, it’s hard to be motivated.

    The only people who can change the future is US!! Until then, long live the sweet and creamy health-compromising foods.

  • PETE MATARESE

    I HAVE ALWAYS BOUGHT SKIPPY PEANUT BUTTER, BUT I WILL NOT ANY MORE.
    I BOUGHT A JAR OF JIF AND THE NUMBER ONE PET PEEVE I HAD WITH SKIPPY
    IS NOT AN ISSUE WITH JIF. YOU MUST KNOW, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT
    THE SEAL ON SKIPPY ALWAYS LEAVES RESIDUE THAT IS SO HARD TO REMOVE WITHOUT
    GETTING PIECES OF ALUMINUM IN THE PEANUT BUTTER. THE JIF COVER COMES RIGHT OFF
    LEAVING NOTHING. IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT A COMPANY AS BIG AS SKIPPY CAN’T
    GET IT RIGHT. IT’S SUCH A SMALL PROBLEM, BUT A BIG PAIN FOR THE CONSUMER.
    PLEASE GET ENGINEERING TO CORRECT SO I CAN GO BACK TO MY SKIPPY!

  • sara

    The main reason why sugar is added to peanut butter is because it keeps it from sticking to your mouth and bread plus people eat more if it is sweet. My college history professor talked alot on how foods have changed things,especially sugar and how capitalists would add sugar to everything just to keep people buying more and it acts as a food perservative–bread, crackers,chicken nuggets. You should check out Sweetness and Power by Sidney W. Mintz, you will be disgusted on what the sugar industry has done to mankind.

  • Yourspiritandmyvoice

    Um, saturated fat is not bad for you, but the sugar is. However, palm oil is not good for the environment. I would still recommend this peanut butter because it is cheap. I bought a huge jar of it for under $4 whereas truly natural peanut butters usually cost more. It’s a good way to eat healthier while keeping it convenient, fast and cheap. While Skippy Natural is in no way the ideal peanut butter, it’s not bad considering the alternatives that people usually consume.

    • Lauracanalita

       Saturated Fats are bad for you unfortunately. I’m in a nutrition class that’s making me realize alot of falicies that we have been told by media etc. There’s a reason why regular peanut butter is nicely mixed, ready to go. The natural peanut butters that are seperated at the top have significant benefits over the other. It’s really gross if you wanna know any details. If you see ‘Partially Hydrogenated’ on any ingredient panel, put it back!

  • Diana

    I STILL cannot find out WHY there is sugar in peanut butter…..I personally buy fresh-ground natural PB, just PEANUTS. I add a little salt, and it’s perfect. No wonder there is an increase in obesity, and diabetes. The sugar conspiracy is definitely afoot!

  • Diana

    Had to add this……lived in Florida for last 16 yrs., and my lovely Publix grocery there had fresh-ground in store, but have now moved back to Kentucky, to a rural area, and no fresh-ground in sight, so am now ordering my PB from Kaufmanns Fruit Farm in Pennsylvania. VERY nice folks, and damn good nut butters. Good prices, too….2lb. container, $7.62, ’bout half what you pay for brand names that contain all the additives. Shipping is dear, but well worth it to me, who considers peanut butter to be the “staff of life”.

  • Pam

    You can also just make your own peanut butter. Just add a pound of dry roasted peanuts in your food processor and let it go. In less than 5 minutes you have fresh peanut butter without the added salt, oil or salt!