Peanut butter is a staple food in my diet. I kind of want to give it its own category. If I don't have two jars in my apartment at all times, things are not okay. 

This year, I decided to experiment with peanut butter. I had been an avid and loyal buyer of Jif's Natural Peanut Butter, until I found out it's not as natural as it claims to be. Jif's Natural, although still super delicious, contains more than just peanuts. Its ingredient list includes: peanuts, sugar, palm oil and 2% or less of salt and molasses. Takeaway: not just peanuts.

chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, cream, sweet, dairy product, milk
Sabrina Kistler

Let's take a regular, non-natural jar of peanut butter like Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter. Within this not-so-out-of-the-ordinary recipe, you can find: roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed, soybean and rapeseed Oil) and salt to prevent separation.

First of all, what even is hydrogenated vegetable oil? I'll tell you this, it's certainly not a peanut. The term "hydrogenated" comes from "hydrogen." Basically, to hydrogenate something means to add hydrogen to it. The reason this is done is to make foods more spreadable and to add to their shelf-life.

pastry, bread, sweet
Christin Urso

The next question: Are hydrogenated oils bad for people? Well, hydrogenated oils are a type of trans fat. According to Livestrong, trans fats increase cholesterol levels and cause inflammation. So, personally, I would say to limit the amount of trans fat you consume.

Besides hydrogenated oils, regular peanut butter does contain salt and sugar. If you aren't a person who needs to sprinkle salt on everything to make it edible and if you can contain your sweet tooth, you can probably live without the extra salt and sugar in your peanut butter. 

So, what peanut butter do I use now? Trader Joe's Organic Peanut Butter Creamy Unsalted. And what are the sole ingredients? You guessed it: peanuts

Jaclyn Alderman

No oils. No added salt, sugar, or molasses. Believe it or not, peanut butter can and does taste good without all the extra stuff. 10/10 would recommend.

Maybe you don't live near a Trader Joe's. No worries, my hometown doesn't have one either! Luckily though, in most grocery stores (organic or not) you should be able to find a natural peanut butter containing just peanuts

sesame seed, wheat, corn, pasture, cereal
Erin O'Neill

When it comes to some of the better things in life, like peanut butter, less is more (I'm talking ingredients, not consumption). Why fix something that isn't broken? Peanuts are so good not only in taste, but also as healthy fats for our bodies, so there's really no reason to add unnecessary ingredients to something naturally delicious.