Special Report

13 Worst Peanut Butter Brands To Avoid

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Determining the 13 worst peanut butter brands involves a few metrics. While flavor and texture are undoubtedly at the top of your kiddo’s list, parents tend to judge peanut butter based on its nutritional value. Peanut butter is a simple, healthful food made from ground peanuts. However, in many commercially available varieties, unnecessary additives such as sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils are incorporated to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf life. Sugar, a frequent addition, contributes to health issues including obesity, diabetes, and poor dental health. Adding salt amplifies flavor and acts as a preservative, yet high sodium levels can elevate blood pressure and pose cardiovascular risks.

Hydrogenated oils are incorporated to prevent the natural separation of oil from the peanut butter, giving it a smoother consistency and prolonging its shelf life. However, these oils contain trans fats, which are linked to increased cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease. In essence, while these additives may improve taste, texture, and product stability, they introduce health risks that undermine the nutritional integrity of an otherwise wholesome food choice.

Given the alarming prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the U.S., making smart dietary choices is paramount, minimizing processed, sugary foods is a first step in managing these issues, and peanut butter is an easy fix. When buying peanut butter, read the ingredients and choose the brand with the fewest ingredients. Peanuts. That’s it – peanuts are the only necessary ingredient in peanut butter. Peanuts make good peanut butter. So whether is unnecessary ingredients, unhealthful ingredients, or ethically dubious ingredients, 24/7 Wall St. presents its contenders for the 13 peanut butter brands to avoid, listed from slightly bad to seriously the worst.

13. Trader Joe’s Salted Peanut Butter

Source: belchonock / Getty Images

  • parent/owner: Aldi Nord
  • questionable ingredients: salt
  • average cost:  $2.49/16 0unces

Trader Joe’s only makes our list because of the added salt. It’s wholly unnecessary. Start your kids off right. Unsalted peanut butter tastes fine, especially when you’ve never had the salted variety. Though China has the highest salt consumption per capita, the United States is number 2. For a company that sells itself as a healthful alternative, the added salt is not a good look.

12. Go Nuts, Co. Plain Protein + Peanut Butter

Happy dog eating peanut butter from spoon. Cute puppy dog licking unsalted peanut butter with big pink tongue. Female Harrier mix dog. Selective focus on nose and peanut butter. White background.
Source: sophiecat / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Norma Cipolla
  • questionable ingredients: xylitol
  • average cost: $6.00/15 ounces

Go Nuts, Co. Plain Protein + Peanut Butter makes our list not for what it can do to you, but for what it can do to your dog. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is exceptionally toxic to dogs, even in very small amounts. Especially if you have small children who are apt to share their bounty with Bowser, think twice before purchasing this brand.

11. Smucker’s Reduced Fat Natural Style Creamy Peanut Butter

Source: LauriPatterson / Getty Images

  • parent/owner: J.M. Smucker Company
  • questionable ingredients: maltodextrin*, reduced fat peanuts*,  salt
  • average cost: $3.50/16 0unces

The asterisks indicate *ingredients not in regular natural peanut butter. No kidding. Maltodextrin is a sugar substitute that has a higher glycemic index than sugar!?!?! For this reason, diabetics need to be aware! And reduced-fat peanuts? Well, now they’re just making stuff up. FWIW, they probably meant *ingredients not in OUR regular natural peanut butter, but that’s not what the label states.

10. Peanut Butter and Co. Smooth Operator

Source: pamela_d_mcadams / iStock via Getty Images

  • parent/owner: Lee Zalben
  • questionable ingredients: salt, sugar, palm oil
  • average cost: $5.00/16 0unces

Conscientious consumers do not purchase products that contain palm oil. The harvesting of palm oil is a leading cause of deforestation around the world. And for what? For the sake of convenience: the palm oil keeps the peanut butter from separating. The sugar and salt are equally as superfluous.

9. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Honey

Peanut butter sandwiches or toasts on light wooden background
Source: Fortyforks / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Hormel Foods
  • questionable ingredients: palm oil, salt, sugar, honey
  • average cost: $3.30/15 ounces

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Honey has the same ingredients as Smooth Operator, with the addition of honey. So, it has the same issues but with honey.

8. Peanut Butter and Co. White Chocolatey

Source: julpho / Getty Images

  • parent/owner: Lee Zalben
  • questionable ingredients: cocoa powder, salt, sugar, palm oil
  • average cost: $5.00/16 0unces

Same story, morning glory. In chapter three, we meet the additional ingredient of cocoa powder. There are ethical concerns regarding cocoa powder, principally concerning child labor. Though Peanut Butter and Co. White Chocolatey may not be as unhealthful as some other brands, it’s got two strikes against it, ethically speaking.

7. Peter Pan Original Creamy

Peanut butter sandwich. Breakfast. Vegetarian food. American cuisine
Source: Vladislav Chusov / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Post Consumer Brands/Post Holdings
  • questionable ingredients: sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed and rapeseed), partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, salt
  • average cost: $2.75/16.3 ounces

This is the peanut butter of my youth, and I can distinctly recall its smooth texture and penchant for sticking to the roof of one’s mouth, that even a whole glass of milk couldn’t wash away. I’m guessing that stick-with-it-ness is related to the hydrogenated fats and their associated health issues. While tenacity is an admirable quality in some things, peanut butter is not one of them.

6. Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

Source: gojak / Getty Images

  • parent/owner: The J.M. Smucker Company
  • questionable ingredients: corn syrup solids, sugar, pea protein, salt, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, molasses, magnesium oxide, niacinamide, ferric orthophosphate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid.
  • average cost: $3.25/16 0unces

Though not all of the additional ingredients in Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter are bad for you, they are all questionable. The final seven listed ingredients are vitamins and minerals added to boost the nutritional value of the product. Noble as it seems, these nano additions hardly make up for the corn syrup solids, sugar, and fully hydrogenated oils.

5. Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

Creamy and smooth peanut butter in jar on wood table. Natural nutrition and organic food. Selective focus.
Source: inewsfoto / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Hormel Foods
  • questionable ingredients: corn syrup solids, sugar, pea protein, salt, hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed, soybean, and rapeseed oil) to prevent separation, minerals (magnesium oxide, ferric orthophosphate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate), mono- and diglycerides, vitamins (niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid).
  • average cost: $3.25/16.3 ounces

Seemingly the same recipe used by Jif, but with a bit more information on the label. The takeaway: Reduced-fat peanut butter is not the healthful food you’d like it to be. On the market for low-fat peanut butter?  Simply purchase the natural kind that separates and pour off some of the oil before stirring. Voila!

4. Peter Pan Creamy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Close up view of a piece of toast covered with creamy peanut butter and honey, ready for eating.
Source: Carey Jaman / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Post Consumer Brands/Post Holdings
  • questionable ingredients: sugar, molasses, hydrogenated Vegetable Oil [rapeseed and cottonseed], salt, sugar, honey
  • average cost: 2.65/16.3 ounces

Peter Pan Creamy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter is Peter Pan Original Creamy with the additional ingredient of honey. Therefore, it has all of the same concerns as the original – plus added honey. Contrary to popular opinion, honey is not markedly better or different from sugar. Though it has a slightly low glycemic index (58 to sugar 60), there is no benefit to substituting honey for sugar.

3. Great Value Peanut Butter

Jar with peanut butter on peanut background, close up
Source: AtlasStudio / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: ConAgra Foods
  • questionable ingredients: sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil)  salt, molasses, monoglycerides
  • average cost: $1.84/16 0unces

This brand checks all of the boxes for the worst peanut butter ever. Added sugar? Check. Hydrogenated fats? Check. Salt? And check. At less than  $2.00/16 ounces, it is an affordable alternative, but a great value? Not so much.

2. Reeses

Knife with creamy peanut butter, closeup
Source: New Africa / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: Hershey Trust Company
  • questionable ingredients: sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed, cottonseed, and soybean oils), salt, peanut oil, monoglycerides, molasses, cornstarch
  • average cost: $3.50/18 ounces

Same song, second verse; could get better, but it doesn’t. It gets worse. Besides the added sugar, fat, salt, and emulsifiers, Reeses throws in molasses for a touch of extra sweet stickiness, and cornstarch as a thickener. All of these additional ingredients add bulk to the product and the Hershey Trust’s coffers while lowering the nutritional value and overall product quality.

1. Smucker’s Goober Grape

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
Source: MSPhotographic / Shutterstock.com

  • parent/owner: J.M. Smucker Company
  • questionable ingredients: grape juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, salt, pectin, citric acid, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium citrate.
  • average cost: $4.25/18 ounces

I love the idea of Smucker’s Goober Grape. I begged for it as a child. And the fact that goober is another name for peanuts in the Southern United States makes me love the name. But the idea of eating it? The high fructose corn syrup alone is enough to make me pass. Potassium sorbate, a mold and yeast suppressant that is considered generally safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is heavily regulated in Europe. This is due to its status as a genotoxin. A genotoxin is an agent that causes DNA or chromosomal damage. Be a savvy consumer. Read labels. And remember that in the world of peanut butter, less is more.

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