Look at the labels, for real.
My husband asked me to get some peanut butter for the mouse traps. “They like Pic’s,” he added. Yah right. Like I’m going to buy the fancy brand for a rodent’s (hopefully) last meal. So I bought the least expensive option, from Pams, with the following ingredients:
Peanuts, hydrogenated soy bean oil, salt.
The peanuts and salt should be pretty self-explanatory; how about the hydrogenated soy bean oil? Brace yourself.
Food manufacturers change the position of a hydrogen atom within the fatty acid chain (in this case, in the soybean oil), turning liquid vegetable oils into solid substances (like margarine). The result is toxic. Our bodies absorb this manufactured trans fat and incorporate it into cell membranes, just like it would with other fats we eat. The cell then becomes partially hydrogenated and its membrane becomes flabby instead of stiff and stable and blocks the uptake of essential fatty acids that are critical for our bodies. Trans fatty acids have been shown to increase coronary heart disease basically by clogging the arteries. There is nothing beneficial about them.
But why do manufacturers put this nastiness in our food? Well, it extends the shelf life and flavour of a product, which means more profit for them. Whenever you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on a product’s label, Put. It. Down.
So, where does that leave us? With clean ingredients from brands like Pic’s or Fix & Fogg with a heftier price tag. That said, a Pic’s 1 kg jumbo container on special for $14.69 makes a lot of sandwiches.
Oh but there’s another option: Make your own. Buy peanuts. If they’re raw (not roasted), put them in a single layer on a baking tray at 160 until golden (around 8-10 minutes). Then blitz them in a food processor. (They may need a little help with some high quality extra virgin olive oil.) Blitz until they’re….you guessed it, peanut butter! A $2.59 bag of peanuts easily makes a 500 g jar.
I love using homemade peanut butter in baking and cooking, including these recipes:
And the mice? They’re not fans of my homemade recipe, apparently. That’s fine—they can have the hydrogenated jar.
For more information and to read the scientific research mentioned here, please see:
The Effects of Hydrogenation on Soybean Oil
Trans Fat is Trouble for Your Heart Health
The Role of Fatty Acids and Atherosclerosis