I’m sure my title did an adequate job of luring you into this article but as much as I hate to admit it, there really is no dirty secret. Nut Butters are one of the greatest inventions to grace this green earth, other than sliced bread, of course.
But what is it about these creamy, smooth (there’s no place for crunchy variations here) nutritional powerhouse foods that makes them SO GOOD?
Shall we address the Elephant in the room, first? Nut Butters are made from, Nuts. That’s it. That is all you need to make a Nut Butter. It’s a common misconception that Nut Butters contain Dairy Butter.
ALSO. Lets forget that most commercial brands are full of additives and sugar; what I’m getting at is, despite popular opinion, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamias aren’t actual NUTS; they are fruits and seeds, save for the ubiquitous PEANUT, which is a legume. PHEW. That’s about as technical as this post will get, for now so shall we carry on?
Ignoring the technicalities, nut butters are a fantastic source of nutrients with the key players being:
- Poly and Mono Unsaturated Fats – far outweighing their Saturated Cousin – these healthy fats can help to raise GOOD Cholesterol Levels while lowering BAD Cholesterol. Not to be a one trick pony, these fats have been linked to lower rates of Heart Disease and Stroke.
- Protein, yes. The magical ‘P’ word. You can’t get far these days without adequate protein in your diet. With 10,000 different types of proteins found in the Human Body, it’s a critical part of the processes that fuel your body’s energy production systems and it forms the building blocks for everything in your body; your skin, your muscles and even your hair. You need protein.
- Minerals and Vitamins – these mega micro nutrients assist key processes in your body and regulate critical functions and nut butters are packed full of valuable sources of some of the key players.
ALL FLAVOURS – GREAT and SMALL
Lets start with the most well known, Peanut Butter. It’s packed full of Protein, standing the highest among all other butters. It’s a good quality source of Iron and Folate, Magnesium for Healthy Bones and Quality Sleep and lastly, Vitamin B6 and Zinc for a Tip Top Immune System.
It’s long been studied and research has concluded that eating Peanut Butter regularly can lower your risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes.
Lastly, it’s super cheap. You can expect the average PB to give you, per serving (2 tbsp): 191 calories, 16.4 g fat, 7.1 g carbs, 1.6 g fibre, 3.4 g sugar, 136 mg sodium, 7.1 g protein (depending on which brand you purchase).
Even though Almond Butter is second on this list, it actually manages to edge out on good ol’ PB by a fair margin. Per serving Almond butter offers, on average, another 3g of Heart Healthy Fats. Yes, it does lose the benefit of high protein but that’s not a huge deal breaker.
These auspicious Almonds also carry more Vitamin E, which is an effective antioxidant for a Healthy Heart and blood.
However, it’s not all good news. Almond Butter tends to be a lot more pricier than PB and not just for your pocket. Environmentally speaking, they require a LOT of water to grow.
On average, per serving (2 tbsp) you can expect to get: 196 calories, 17.8 g fat, 6 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 73 mg sodium, 7 g protein.
What Walnuts bring to the table is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an OMEGA-3 fatty acid found in plants. ALA can help to lower your risk of heart disease, your blood pressure and cholesterol, and even reverse hardening of your blood vessels, so that’s a nice bonus.
Factoring in the usual nutrition such as Protein and a generous serving of Heart Healthy Fats and Vitamin E, the old ticker is going to feel quite grateful for your nut butter choices.
Per serving (2 tbsp): 170 calories, 14 g fat, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein
SUNFLOWER SEED SPREAD
Born from the Humble Sunflower Seed, this spread is ideal for those who are allergic to nuts. It’s estimated that close to 2% of people are allergic or sensitive to nuts.
This seed is packed full of Vitamins A and E, great for glowing skin and bright eyes. If you fall short in the sleeping department, this spread offers the highest Magnesium content than any other on this list.
There are some cons though, namely: there’s not a lot of protein and being significantly higher in fat, the caloric value is a lot more than the other butters.
Per serving (2 tbsp): 197 calories, 17.7 g fat, 7.5 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 3.4 g sugar, 106 mg sodium, 5.5 g protein
This one’s quite simple really as the not so humble cashew’s main competitive feature is it’s sweet flavour; achieved without increasing it’s sugar content. So for those looking to lower sugar in their diet, cashew spread will help.
Thing is, it’s significantly lower in protein than many other nut butters so what you gain in flavour, you lose in this valuable Macro Nutrient. Cashew Butter will also tend to be 2-3 times more pricey than say, PB so if you’re on a budget, this may need to be an occasional treat rather than part of your everyday diet.
Per serving (2 tbsp): 195 calories, 17 g fat, 9.7 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 94 mg sodium, 3.9 g protein
As the image may have alluded to, Tahini is make from the Tiny Sesame Seed. Common place in many middle eastern dishes, this highly nutritious and super low calorie seed spread is an ideal source of Vitamin E. It’s also a great source of Copper, which plays a role in making your Red Blood Cells.
There is one Caveat; Copper will compete with Zinc for absorption so you’ll want to avoid foods high in Zinc. Luckily, most high Zinc Foods are meat based and that’s not what we’re about here.
Per serving (2 tbsp): 70 calories, 6 g fat, 3 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 140 mg sodium, 2 g protein
This is one of the lesser known Nut Butters that doesn’t get a lot of attention, which is a crying shame because it’s really quite tasty.
Alongside the usual suspects, this Nut Butter is packed full of B Vitamins to boost your energy throughout the day.
It’s only downside being, it can be hard to find and is often quite expensive compared to PB and Almond Butter.
Per serving (2 tbsp): 180 calories, 13 g fat, 9 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 6 g protein
As you can see, there are a whole host of fantastic spreads and butters out on the market today. It’s worth trying them all out because they each have their own unique flavours. Using Nut Butters as part of a balanced diet will help you reach your nutrition goals as gram for gram, they are filled to the rafters with valuable macro and micro nutrients.
If price matters the most, you can’t go wrong with Peanut Butter. Try to avoid buying name brands like Sunpat as they will often use additives. Instead, opt for brands that use the whole peanut with nothing else added.
If money is of no concern, Cashew and Almond offer fantastic flavours and nutritionally, just slightly edge out in front of PB. Right, after all this chat, it’s time for a PB&J sandwich, I’m starving!