On Nutrition: Is hydrogenated fat in peanut butter safe to eat?

On Nutrition: Is hydrogenated fat in peanut butter safe to eat?

I proceed to be amazed on the tempo at which diet science continues to evolve — and get extra sophisticated. Along with that thought comes this query from David P. in Tucson, Arizona:

“Dear Barbara, is hydrogenated peanut butter as wholesome because the nonhydrogenated sort? Hydrogenated peanut butter solely provides a half-gram of saturated fats to peanut butter’s content material, so it might appear OK to eat, however what do you assume?”

I believe you requested an excellent query, David. And it’s one which requires some background. Bear with me.

Ever surprise why olive or different vegetable oils in your cupboard get rancid faster over time than say, butter or coconut oil? Fats which can be extra stable at room temperature are extra steady; they don’t disintegrate as shortly. This is basically as a consequence of their greater content material of saturated fats.

That’s what the method of hydrogenation does. It “saturates” a liquid oil with hydrogen to make it extra stable and thus extra shelf steady.

There is a giant distinction, nonetheless, between fat which can be absolutely versus partially hydrogenated. Partially hydrogenated fat that used to reside in some margarines and snack meals are not allowed in our meals provide as a result of they’re the primary supply of synthetic trans fats.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, trans fat increase the extent of LDL (“unhealthy”) ldl cholesterol within the blood. An elevated LDL degree within the blood will increase your threat of growing coronary heart illness, the main explanation for loss of life in women and men within the U.S.

Removing partially hydrogenated oils from processed meals may stop 1000’s of coronary heart assaults and deaths annually, says the FDA. And that’s what they did in 2018.

On the opposite hand, hydrogenated oils (not partially hydrogenated) are nonetheless allowed in some meals merchandise (together with peanut butter) to keep up freshness. Although these merchandise don’t comprise trans fat (test the label), the method of hydrogenation produces extra saturated fats, which we’re referred to as to restrict in our diets.

So again to your query, David. The healthiest peanut butter is one with zero trans fats and a low quantity of saturated fats, hydrogenated or not.

Not confused sufficient but? I’m taking a look at a jar of “pure” peanut butter that comprises no hydrogenated oil — simply peanuts, sugar, palm oil and salt. And it has 3.5 grams of saturated fats per serving. Where did that come from? While peanuts comprise principally good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, they do comprise a small quantity of saturated fats. And palm oil is of course excessive in saturated fats.

I’d say that half-gram of saturated fats in your peanut butter stabilized with hydrogenated oil is just not a lot to fret about.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and syndicated columnist. She is the writer of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating.” Email her at [email protected]


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