Natural Jif: What's The Dif?
August 25, 2010 66 Comments
After Snack Girl's recent exposé on Whole Grain vs Original Wheat Thins, readers have started sending her other potential food fakes.
While grocery shopping yesterday, a new product caught my eye. Jif is now making a "natural" peanut butter. Since even Jif PB contains so few ingredients, I've always been a little skeptical about people who make a big deal about "natural" peanut butter.
I picked up the two and compared the labels. I looked, and looked, and looked. Same nutritional profile. I think I finally figured out that the natural one didn't contain some of the preservatives, but otherwise they look identical to me.
So, I went to the store and purchased them myself. Here are the ingredients in regular Jif:
Here is Natural Jif:
You know, Valerie, I looked too and couldn't understand what the difference was because the nutritional facts are exactly the same. Then, I phoned Jif (note the phone number for questions).
It seems that the major difference is that Natural Jif includes palm oil as an ingredient while Regular Jif has hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean). Why does this make Natural Jif natural?
The Jif representative informed me that palm oil hasn't gone through the processing of "hydrogenation".
I'm a bit of a geek, so I actually have taken a year of organic chemistry in 1993 (I am also old). Hydrogenation is simply adding hydrogens to a compound. So the rapeseed and soybean oils have added hydrogens which helps them to be solid at room temperature. Why would you do this?
The Regular Jif that I purchased will last until June of 2012. Basically, it helps the peanut butter to be shelf stable.
Okay, I bet your eyes are glazing over right about now, but I am not done. Palm oil is a highly saturated vegetable fat. What "saturated" means is that every carbon is bound to as many hydrogens as possible.
Basically, palm oil already has a bunch of hydrogens added to its carbons. So, it didn't need to be artificially hydrogenated because it is NATURALLY hydrogenated.
The Natural Jif that I purchased will last until June of 2011 (one year less that Regular Jif).
Okay, so I am a big advocate of healthy peanut butter see: How To Choose Healthy Peanut Butter. My definition is that the ingredients list should have one ingredient: peanuts. Recently, Krema sent me some "natural" peanut butter. Krema's ingredient list is: peanuts.
But what about Valerie's point about the Jif peanut butter not having many ingredients? Does it matter which one you choose (especially if you are a choosy mother)?
With Krema's peanut butter you get per serving:
- 1 gram more fiber
- 2 grams more protein
- 1 gram less sugar
than Jif and (I think) it is tastier. The differences may be slight, but if you eat a lot of peanut butter they will add up. And, they cost the same! Krema's peanut butter will last until May 2011.
What to do?
My suggestion is to question the term "natural" on the front of the package. This term is not regulated by the FDA and two products that say "natural" can be two VERY different things.
Clearly, Smuckers (which owns Jif), is trying to compete with the Kremas of the world.
Which type of peanut butter should choosy mothers choose?