Peanut butter is fast overtaking jam as Britain’s favourite spread, with sales soon set to surpass £100 million.
Peanuts are packed with protein, which takes more time to digest, blocking hunger signals from the gut. They’re also a good source of magnesium (important for bone strength and blood sugar balance), phosphorus (for healthy cells), zinc (for immunity) and niacin (for nerve function).
There is a wide variety of peanut butters out there, but some are packed with sugar and fat. Here, Kajsa Ernestam, a clinical dietitian for the healthy lifestyle app Lifesum (lifesum.com), assesses some popular products. We then rated them out of ten.
Oatein cookies and cream high protein
Oatein cookies and cream high protein: 3/10
£9.99 for 330g, oatein.com. Per 100g: Calories, 534; saturated fat, 7.7g; protein, 29g; sugar, 6.9g; salt, 0.13g
VERDICT: The maker says the high protein content in this can aid muscle repair after a workout. But, in fact, gram for gram, it has the same (or even slightly less) protein than standard peanut butters, and with more than 15 ingredients, such as flavourings, it isn’t as healthy as you might imagine.
TASTE: Overpowering vanilla flavour. 3/10
Pic’s peanut butter crunchy
Pic’s peanut butter crunchy: 10/10
£4 for 380g, Tesco. Per 100g: Calories, 594; saturated fat, 6.3g; protein, 26.7g; sugar, 5.9g; salt, 0.5g
VERDICT: Made with high-oleic Australian peanuts, which are said to contain around 25 per cent more heart-healthy monounsaturated fats than regular peanuts, this spread has no added oils or sugar — just an impressive 99.5 per cent peanuts and a bit of salt (about half that in other recipes). It’s naturally high in protein, too.
TASTE: A rich flavour with a good balance of salty and sweet. 10/10
Skippy Super Chunk: 7/10
Skippy Super Chunk
£2.40 for 340g, most supermarkets. Per 100g: Calories, 623; saturated fat, 10g; protein, 23.6g; sugar, 9.4g; salt, 0.85g
VERDICT: There’s a high peanut content in this (91 per cent) for a spread marketed at families. It does contain added sugar (around a quarter of a teaspoon in a serving) and palm oil, a saturated fat.
But it’s less sugary than jam and more filling, with just over half a large boiled egg’s worth of protein in one 15g portion.
TASTE: Crunchy and pleasantly sweet. 7/10
Meridian Coconut and Peanut Butter
Meridian coconut and peanut butter: 5/10
£2.50 for 280g, most supermarkets. Per 100g: Calories, 610; saturated fat, 22g; protein, 22.4g; sugar, 8.2g; salt, 0g
VERDICT: Unskinned roasted peanuts (69 per cent) add fibre, with 5 per cent of your daily intake in a 15g tablespoon. The skins provide phenolic compounds that help fight inflammation. There’s no added salt, but it’s made with coconut flesh, which is why the saturated fat content is high. It’s also sweetened with honey, which has the same effect on the body as white sugar.
TASTE: Coconutty with a powdery aftertaste. Better in a marinade. 5/10
Biona Creations Chilli Peanut
Biona Creations Chilli Peanut: 9/10
£2.99 for 250g, biona.co.uk. Per 100g: Calories, 591; saturated fat, 6.2g; protein, 25.7g; sugar, 4.7g; salt, 0.43g
VERDICT: This contains 99.3 per cent (organic) peanuts, plus sea salt and chilli. It’s possibly better used in cooking, for a mean chicken satay — the chilli will help the absorption from other foods of fat-soluble vitamins. Studies also suggest chilli may steady insulin levels and this no added sugar spread is good for those watching blood sugar levels.
TASTE: Clean, but it could do with a little more chilli. 9/10
Yumello Wild Atlas
Yumello Wild Atlas: 10/10
£2.85 for 170g, yumello.com. Per 100g: Calories, 569; saturated fat, 3.3g; protein, 25.4g; sugar, 3.9g; salt, 0.5g
VERDICT: Made with 95.5 per cent high-oleic peanuts (containing up to 25 per cent more heart-friendly monounsaturated fats than regular peanuts), 4 per cent cold-pressed argan oil — rich in essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and linked to the prevention of heart disease — and a sprinkling of sea salt. It also has 1.3g fibre (around 4 per cent of your daily needs) in a tablespoon and there’s no added sugar.
TASTE: It’s slightly runny and sticky, but certainly delicious nonetheless. 10/10
Peanut Hottie Powder: 6/10
Peanut Hottie Powder
£3 for 180g, Tesco. Per 100g: Calories, 427; saturated fat, 1.7g; protein, 45g; sugar, 14.4g; salt, 1.84g
VERDICT: ‘Defatted’ powder made with 91.4 per cent peanuts, sugar and salt — add water to create a spread. This has 80 per cent less fat than most peanut butters but, while this cuts calories and boosts protein (up to 70 per cent more), it cuts the ‘good’ fats and vitamin E in peanuts and has added sugar.
TASTE: A strong roasted flavour, but it’s powdery. 6/10
Smucker’s Goober Grape & Peanut
Smucker’s Goober Grape & Peanut: 2/10
£4.73 for 510g, ocado.com. Per 100g: Calories, 453; saturated fat, 4.7g; protein, 13.2g; sugar, 39.6g; salt, 0.7g
VERDICT: Peanut butter and jelly (jam) is an American favourite. This has a lot of sweeteners — including grape juice, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose. You’ll get more than ten times as much sugar in this as in a non-sweetened peanut butter, but still half a teaspoon less than in jam or Nutella. As there is less peanut butter in each portion, there are fewer calories, but fewer nutrients, too.
TASTE: Very sweet. This one is best kept as an occasional treat. 2/10
Fuel 10K Chocolate: 7/10
£1 for 225g, Asda and Tesco. Per 100g: Calories, 607; saturated fat, 8.8g; protein, 29.4g; sugar, 9.5g; salt, 0.5g
VERDICT: This handy spread in a squeezable pouch is made with 93 per cent roasted peanuts, coconut sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt. Coconut sugar sounds healthy, but it’s still sugar, although here there’s just a quarter of a teaspoon in a serving. There’s no stabilising palm oil, so it must be kneaded in the pouch to mix it.
TASTE: Smooth, with a chocolate tang. 7/10.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate
Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate: 2/10
£3 for 368g, Sainsbury’s and ocado.com. Per 100g: Calories, 552; saturated fat, 5.5g; protein, 8.7g; sugar, 51.2g; salt, 1g
VERDICT: The sweetest product tested, this is made with ‘peanut butter creme’ — a blend of sugar, peanuts and oils — plus 3 per cent cocoa. There’s more sugar than peanut in this — a tablespoon has slightly more sugar than one-and-a-half chocolate digestives. Palm oil, a saturated fat, features high in the ingredients list, too. That said, this still offers less sugar and more protein than jam or Nutella.
TASTE: Well-balanced chocolate and peanut, it’s so moreish. 2/10
Pip & Nut Crunchy Maple: 6/10
Pip & Nut Crunchy Maple
From £1.75 for 225g, most supermarkets. Per 100g: Calories, 588; saturated fat, 12g; protein, 26g; sugar, 9g; salt, 0.3g
VERDICT: This is almost 88 per cent high-oleic peanuts (richer in monounsaturated ‘good’ fats), with maple syrup and coconut oil. Though maple syrup has a few more nutrients and antioxidants than sugar, it’s still sugar — there’s around a quarter of a teaspoon of the stuff in a tablespoon serving, while the coconut oil adds saturated fat.
TASTE: The maple is not that noticeable. 6/10.
Sun Pat Protein +
Sun Pat Protein +: 5/10
£2 for 400g, Tesco. Per 100g: Calories, 612; saturated fat, 9.2g; protein, 32.5g; sugar, 3.1g; salt, 1.3g
VERDICT: Around 97 per cent peanut — 81 per cent nuts, the rest peanut flour, this has no added sugar and just a little salt and peanut oil. Although it has one of the highest protein contents of the products featured — almost equivalent to a large boiled egg in one tablespoon — it has less than half the fibre of some. The low sugar and high peanut content make it a healthy choice.
TASTE: Rather a bland flavour, with an odd, gel-like texture. 5/10.
Manilife Deep Roast: 10/10
Manilife Deep Roast
£3.75 for 295g, ocado.com. Per 100g: Calories, 619; saturated fat, 6g; protein, 26.4g; sugar, 5.5g; salt, 0.9g
VERDICT: This is made with cholesterol-friendly high-oleic peanuts from Argentina. It contains an impressive 99.1 per cent peanuts, plus sea salt — no added sugar or oils here. The nuts have been roasted longer for a deeper flavour — while this makes it especially tasty, but could slightly reduce the nutrient levels.
TASTE: Deliciously toasty. Stir it first. 10/10.
Tesco Everyday Value
Tesco Everyday Value: 6/10
70p for 340g, Tesco. Per 100g: Calories, 628; saturated fat, 6.9g; protein, 23.8g; sugar, 3.7g; salt, 0.7g
VERDICT: This contains rapeseed oil, which has a slightly better nutritional profile than many oils, and offers omega fatty acids that may help reduce cholesterol and contribute to heart, brain and joint function. That said, there are fewer peanuts here — 87 per cent — and so slightly less protein and slightly more saturated fat than other products. Sugar, palm oil and salt have also been added.
TASTE: A crunchy no-frills peanut butter that’s sweet, but a little claggy. 6/10.
Whole Earth with Flax Seeds: 9/10
£3 for 340g, most supermarkets. Per 100g: Calories, 645; saturated fat, 8.7g; protein, 24.3g; sugar, 0.9g; salt, 1g
VERDICT: Made with 80 per cent unskinned peanuts and 17 per cent sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, this has 5 per cent of your daily fibre in a tablespoon. The seeds provide B vitamins for a healthy nervous system, plus zinc and magnesium. There’s no added sugar, but it does contain palm oil, so is higher in saturated fat than some.
TASTE: Wholesome, with succulent seeds. 9/10.