Nut butters can be a great staple food in a healthy diet. They are not only an excellent source of plant protein and healthy fats, they are familiar and comforting. So many of us have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since before we could walk. Although peanut butter is definitely a fan favorite and a great option, there are a many other options to explore. Not only is it important to strive for variety in your diet, but peanut allergy numbers are increasing dramatically. So, let’s take a closer look at the wide world of nut butters and see how they all stack up.
Tried and True: Peanut Butter is popular all around the world and has been for hundreds of years. In fact, did you know that peanut butter is used in many emergency aid foods and recommended in survival kits? This is because it is a concentrated, well-rounded source of nutrition. Peanut butter is high in protein, low in carbs, and loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Omega- 6 and Oleic acid, two main fats in peanut butter are shown to help maintain good cholesterol, improve blood sugar, and lower blood pressure. Maintaining healthy levels of these things can help reduce insulin resistance and the risk of heart disease. Peanut butter is also a good source of essential nutrients like including Vitamin E, Niacin (B3), Manganese, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Copper, as well as, antioxidants like resveratrol. All of these nutrients positively contribute to bone health, immune function, and heart health.
Best New Player: Almond butter has grown in popularity considerably in the last decade or so. Nutritionally speaking, almond butter and peanut butter are very similar. Almond butter is also a significant source of plant protein and healthy fats. Comparatively, almond butter is slightly lower in protein, and higher in fat and calories. However, almond butter is lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber. It also contains a significant amount of Omega 3 fatty acid where peanut butter is higher in omega 6. While both fatty acids are important, the American diet tends to be much higher in omega 6 compared to omega 3, a ratio that can be pro-inflammatory. Almond butter is the most micronutrient dense per serving, offering health amounts of magnesium, calcium, potassium, Vitamin E and more. These nutrients are vital for eye, bone, and heart health.
Pecan butter: Pecan butter has a lot of the same overall benefits of peanut butter and almond butter, providing a concentrated source of energy. However, it is significantly lower in protein when compared to peanut and almond butter and the highest in calories and fat. But pecan butter is not only calorie dense it is micronutrient dense, containing 20+ vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants vitamin A and E, as well as, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. It is also a good source of fiber, which helps control cholesterol levels, keep you full longer, and regulate bowels.
Cashew Butter: Cashew butter is the lowest in protein and healthy fats. However, it is still a nutritious and filling option and full of many vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and more.
If you are feeling like you still don’t know which nut butter is the best option, that’s ok. They are quick and easy to put on toast or fruit for a filling and nutritious snack or breakfast. They are all great! Variety is not only the spice of life, but crucial to a healthy diet. So, if you don’t have food allergies and aren’t picky, I suggest you try them all. No matter which butter you are buying, it’s important to check the label to avoid ingredients like added sugar, vegetable oil, and trans fats that can reduce health benefits.
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