Choosing the best peanut butter or nut spread, explained

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Most Americans have grown to love peanut butter. It's a necessity on most shopping lists.

Lauri Wright is a registered dietitian at the University of South Florida and offered some tips, facts and advice for finding your perfect nutty spread.

Many shoppers have noticed the peanut butter section at the grocery store has grown significantly over the years. Numerous brands offer varieties like creamy, chunky, organic, natural, powdered, whips, nut-alternative, pure, almond, cashew, and hazelnut just to name a few.

A popular option to reduce calories is whipped peanut butter. It has a smooth consistency kids may enjoy and the increased air created by the whipping process, in many cases, could make the peanut butter less dense, therefore less caloric.

For those with peanut allergies, or just don't like peanuts, there are a number of alternatives available.

"Almond butter is a little bit lower in protein. Instead of 8, it only has 5 grams of protein, but as far as calories and fat it's all about the same," Wright said.

Another option to consider is peanut butter powder. It is a little more expensive, but has far fewer calories per serving and almost one sixteenth of the fat per serving. It's a very healthy option if you like the taste.

Wright says picking the proper peanut butter begins with reading labels.

"Watch the calories, watch the sodium, and watch the sugar, and you can make it fit into a healthy lifestyle," she explains.

She says there are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you want to try and keep it healthy:

- Keep the calories per serving to fewer than 200.

- Keep the sodium to less than 100 milligrams.

- Try to avoid any spreads with more than three grams of sugar.

- Stay away from trans fats or hydrogenated oils.

A label many food brands have adopted could also be confusing while shopping for peanut butter.

'Natural' is not clearly defined by the FDA, However, when it comes to peanut butters, those labeled 'natural' tend to be a healthier option.

"Natural peanut butters are often the better choice because they do have less of the saturated fat and calories than the regular peanut butters that we all kind of grew up on," Wright explained.