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Some Peanut Butters Healthier Than Others

Mayo Clinic in Rochester
Friday, September 29, 2000

If you are trying to manage your cholesterol, think again before you grab the usual jar of peanut butter from the grocery store shelf.

According to the October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, if you choose hydrogenated peanut butter, you are getting a not-so-healthy dose of saturated fats that can raise cholesterol. You can tell the difference between the two because the oil separates in nonhydrogenated peanut butter, rising to the top of the container. Nonhydrogenated peanut butter often is in the refrigerated section because refrigeration keeps it mixed.

In hydrogenation, oils are heated under pressure while hydrogen gas is added. It makes peanut butter more firm and extends the shelf life. Hydrogenation also changes the shape of the fat molecule into its "trans" form. In addition to raising blood total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, trans fatty acids can lower HDL (good) cholesterol. If you see the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on the peanut butter label, it may contain trans fat.

Compare labels when you shop (some saturated fat occurs in all peanut butter). To avoid hydrogenated fats, consider changing the type of peanut butter you buy or limiting how much you use.

Shelly Plutowski
507-284-2417 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
e-mail: newsbureau@mayo.edu

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