How to Choose a Peanut Butter

These days the supermarket shelves are packed with an almost overwhelming range of peanut butters: chunky, super-chunky, creamy, sugar-free, sodium-free, natural, organic, and more. The list goes on and on. When it comes to your weight-loss goals, how do you choose the best one? Start by looking at the label.

Going Natural
On the South Beach Diet, we recommend “natural” peanut butter, either freshly ground in the store or a national brand. These usually just contain peanuts, although some do have a little salt and occasionally a little sugar added (look for brands with 1 gram of sugar or less per serving). Because the oil from the peanuts rises to the top of the jar in a natural peanut butter, you will have to stir it before using. You also could buy one of the “no-stir trans-fat-free” natural peanut butters now available. There is no need to shop in health food or specialty-food stores to find natural peanut butter these days, since most supermarkets carry it.

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
In addition to being a great source of protein, peanut butter is rich in monounsaturated fat and the B vitamin folate, and it also contains some resveratrol (the antioxidant phytochemical also found in red wine). These nutrients are important for cardiovascular health. Just don’t go overboard on your serving size, since peanut butter is calorie-dense.

Snack on It
You can enjoy up to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter a day as part of your nut allowance on all Phases of the South Beach Diet. Peanut butter is especially good as a satisfying midmorning or midafternoon snack or after a workout for quick energy. If you’re on Phase 1, enjoy it with celery, jícama, or fennel sticks, or in a lettuce roll-up. On Phase 2, it’s great with sugar-free jam on whole-grain crackers, or spread on apple, pear, or banana slices.

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