is powdered peanut butter healthy?

Jessica Penner, RDNutrition, Smarten Up, Virtual Grocery Store Tour19 Comments

powdered peanut butter

Powdered peanut butter is all the rage! But should it be?

When I first heard about this powdered PB I thought it was just a clever invention for astronauts and backpackers.

Then I started to see it pop up on Instagram. Regular, everyday people were eating this stuff in their regular, everyday lives. Like, with full gravity… in their kitchen!

So I needed to explore why this was happening.

I didn’t have to look far. The main reason people like powdered peanut butter is plastered in big bold letters right on the jar.

“85% less fat calories than traditional peanut butter”

That’s the claim made by PB2, one of the more popular brands. 85% less calories sounds great, right?

But what are “fat calories?”

In this case, they’re calories that you really, really want. Let me explain.

THE TLDR VIDEO VERSION:

Strike #1: powdered peanut butter gets rid of the good stuff

Fat calories come from either unsaturated fats or saturated fats. When it comes to heart health, a good rule of thumb is that saturated fats are to be limited, while unsaturated fats are to be focused on. From a purely nutritional point of view, squeezing the unsaturated fat out of food doesn’t have a health advantage. Our body needs those unsaturated fats to make brain and nerve cells, cell membranes, hormones, etc.

Guess which type of fats you’ll primarily find in peanut butter?

UNSATURATED FATS!

So yeah.. you’re gonna want to tell PB2 to put those 85% fat calories back in your peanut butter. Your body, and especially your heart, is begging you for peanut butter fat.

Strike one… powdered peanut butter gets rid of the wrong type of fat.

For strike two, let’s look at what ends up replacing those fats.

powdered peanut butter

Strike #2: powdered peanut butter replaces good stuff with bad stuff

In recent years the issue of cutting out saturated fats was thrown into some confusion when it was found that not all people who eat diets low in saturated fats have less risk of heart disease.

It seems the biggest reason for the confusion is that when people cut out foods with saturated fats, some of them replace those foods with carbs, while others eat more unsaturated foods instead. The ones who eat carbs don’t lower their risk of heart disease.

The people who DO lower their risk of heart disease are the people who replace their saturated fats with unsaturated fats. This just further highlights how important unsaturated fats are.

So let’s just take a look at what all those fat calories are being replaced with when you eat powdered peanut butter instead of the real stuff. Hint: unless the saturated fats are being replaced with healthy fats, this isn’t going to end well.

When you eat powdered peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter, you’re getting more of these three things:

  1. Water (you add this to make the powder a paste)
  2. Salt
  3. Sugar

The water is fine. Obviously.

The sugar and salt are not fine. Obviously.

Powdered peanut butter has 30x more sodium than natural peanut butter.

It has 50% more sodium than creamy peanut butter.

This study, published in 2014, estimates that 1 in 10 cardiovascular deaths is attributed to high salt intake. 1 in 10! That’s worrisome. Nearly every processed food is high in sodium, so it’s important to look for ways to reduce our consumption of sodium.

And then we have the sugar. The amount of sugar added isn’t actually that high, until you remember that this sugar is REPLACING the fat found in normal peanut butter. Again, this is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Strike two… powdered peanut butter replaces good fats with salt and sugar.

Strike #3: powdered peanut butter tastes frickin’ awful

To be 100% honest, my first reaction when I tasted this stuff was a whole-face-shudder of disgust.

photo credit: http://utiligif.tumblr.com/post/134872021236

It was just frickin’ awful.

I noticed immediately that it’s high in protein, as it reminded me of a peanut butter flavoured protein bar. Chalky, salty, and comes with a bad aftertaste. There is nothing redeeming about peanut butter when it’s been stripped of its butteriness, and then had water, salt, and sugar added back into it. It sounds like frankenbutter, and tastes like it too.

Strike three, powdered peanut butter. You taste awful.

Strike #4: powdered peanut butter is expensive

What, you thought there’d only be three strikes? No, powdered peanut butter deserves so many more strikes than that.

People often complain that eating healthy is expensive. Well, eating unhealthy is sometimes more expensive. It certainly is in the case of powdered PB. Between Walmart and Bulk Barn I’ve found that the price ranges from $.30 to $.65 per tbsp. That can really add up!

Strike #5: it leaves you with the satisfaction level you’d expect from eating powder

The texture of this stuff is so unsatisfying that it’s actually bad for you. Let me explain.

When we don’t get satisfaction from our food, we’re psychologically driven to find that satisfaction one way or another. Typically we do this by eating more food, which can lead to overeating.

See, eating isn’t just about sliding nutrients into our organs. If it were, we could just be tube fed, and it wouldn’t matter what our food tastes like. We would just choose what would be physiologically best for us and be done with it.

But there is a psychological component to eating, where the satisfaction factor comes in. We don’t just ingest food, we TASTE our food. We have the privilege of ENJOYING our food. And what an amazing privilege it is!

If you’ve ever noticed that you find high-fat foods filling, this is not because of the physical way they fill your body up like protein and fibre do, but because fat is satisfying on another level.

It provides what food scientists call ‘mouthfeel.’  Basically, it makes your mouth feel good! When your mouth feels good, you feel good. It’s satisfying!

When you take all that fat out, you get an unsatisfying mouthfeel. Grainy. Powdery. It’s bad.

And when you’re unsatisfied with your food, you’ll subconsciously seek it out somewhere else.

So enjoy that rich, fatty, creamy peanut butter. The lower in sodium and salt the better.

If you’d like to learn more about how to increase your food satisfaction and quit overeating as a result, read more about how I did it!

And hey, if you really love your powdered peanut butter (I’ve heard it works well in smoothies), and you eat other sources of healthy fats, then by all means, go ahead and enjoy it!

Check out these other food product reviews:

This article is part of my Virtual Grocery Store Tour series.

 

is powdered peanut butter healthy?

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19 Comments on “is powdered peanut butter healthy?”

  1. 30x more sodium than natural peanut butter!?? Isn’t that way off? I’m looking at a jar of Georgia Grinder All natural PB in my cupboard and it says 70 mg Sodium and the powder PB2? It reads 90 mg Sodium.. for both the serving size is 2 tablespoons. My only thought is maybe you wrote this back in 2017 so maybe PB2 heard the negative publicity it was getting and cut down on the sodium, if that’s so, update it?

    Like Mary, the commenter above me, said you’re very misleading. As a physician, I’m disappointed that people go to read these types of nutrition posts because it’s one of the first things that comes up on a google search. Instead they should be learning to read nutrition labels for themselves.
    I use both regular and powdered PB depending on the function, like wanting to add PB taste to smoothie? use the powder. Want the taste of creamy peanut butter with some banana? use the jar of PB for that authentic taste.

    It’s funny how you didn’t take a picture of those nutrition labels in your post, like how most “cheap” Peanut butter products use palm oil which ain’t good for ya. So comparing the price was another misleading point.

    1. Thanks for reading my article, Matt. My turn for a question…What do you find misleading?

      Natural pb has 1mg sodium per tablespoon but I accounted for rounding down and generously alotted 1.5mg/tbsp in my calculations. That would be 3mg/2 tbsp serving. I used the PB2 for nutrition info (since that’s the most popular brand), which therefore puts it at 30x more sodium!

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