The folks at Smart Balance sent me samples of their new shelf-stable peanut butter product due on supermarket shelves this April.
The selling points are:
* The inclusion of flax oil, bringing the ALA Omega-3 fatty acid total of a single two-tablespoon serving to 1,000 milligrams (63% of the Daily Value)
* The absence of partially hydrogenated oils (hence no trans fats)
* The use of agave nectar as a sweetener, rather than table sugar (sucrose)
Mind you, the first two selling points can already be found in the company's Omega Peanut Butter (pictured at left).
Both the smooth and crunchy varieties of this new variety passed my taste test (as well as that of fellow tasters I asked to sample the product), but let's talk nutrition.
Although the inclusion of agave nectar is touted as a healthier choice since its sweeter-than- sugar status means you need to use less of it to sweeten, it isn't a big enough difference in this case.
Smart Balance is being truthful when they advertise this peanut butter as containing "33% less sugar than leading brands," but you are talking about 2 grams per serving as opposed to 3 grams per serving (which translates to just four fewer calories.)
What absolutely confuses me, though, is the fact that the company's Omega Peanut Butter -- already in stores -- only contains one gram of sugar (in the form of molasses) per serving.
They could technically advertise this product as having "100% more sugar" than the one they have already launched!
I am also disappointed by the use of the term "naturally sweetened" in the packaging.
Remember, there is no concrete legal definition of the term "natural" for food advertising.
It is a word that means absolutely nothing; it is simply used to conjure up ideas of healthy, "back to basics" eating.
After all, poisonous mushrooms are natural, but that doesn't mean they are good for us.
I don't think this is "unhealthy" peanut butter by any means, but its sole unique selling point -- the use of agave nectar -- just isn't that big of a deal.