- In recent years, there has been significant growth in alternative nut butter options.
- From almond to cashew to Brazil nut to walnut, the list goes on and on.
- The health benefits and drawbacks range for each nut butter, making some more suitable to your diet than others.
- We talked to registered dietitians to better understand the differences between different nut butter options.
Alternative nut butter has drawn the attention away from the classic and much-loved peanut butter in recent years. With varieties such as almond, macadamia, walnut, and cashew, there are many nut spreads to choose from at the grocery store. But how do you know which to choose? Is one healthier than the other? And what are the main differences?
INSIDER spoke to several registered dietitians to find out what each nut butter can bring to your diet and which may be most fitting to your nutritional needs.
Almond butter is one of the healthiest nut butters
Almond butter takes the cake for being the healthiest of all nut butter, according to Allison Childress, Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, LD assistant professor and chief clinical dietitian. It has 7 grams of protein per serving (two tablespoons), 12 grams of monounsaturated fats, good fats, and numerous vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium.
Make sure to look for almond butter that has no added sugar – flavored almond butter is very popular and more likely to have more sugar Childress told INSIDER.
Peanut butter contains the highest amount of protein
For an economical and healthy choice, Childress said, peanut butter offers the highest amount of protein per serving of all nut butter – 8 grams – and is typically inexpensive.
Peanut butter is also low carb and rich in antioxidants, she added. It also can help increase satiety when paired with fruits or vegetables, according to Natalie Butler, RDN, LD – registered dietitian nutritionist, owner of Nutrition by Natalie, and staff dietitian for SuperFat, a nut butter company.
Walnut butter is high in omega-3’s, making it a great option for vegans and vegetarians
Walnut butter provides the most omega-3 fatty acids, Butler said, making it a staple for vegetarians and vegans due to their low intake of omega-3’s from animal sources. Omega-3’s help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, improve HDL cholesterol, and help to control inflammation, she explained.
Walnut butter is, however, low in protein and healthy fats. Though it does contain several vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t pack the nutritional punch like other nut butter, Childress told INSIDER.
Cashew butter’s texture is excellent for vegan recipes
As one of the creamiest nut butters, cashew butter makes for an excellent dairy replacement in vegan desserts and recipes, Butler said. However, they are the highest carbohydrate nut, she explained, which would have to be rarely consumed by those following a keto diet.
Cashew butter is similar to walnut butter in that it is low in protein and low in healthy fats. Additionally, it’s more expensive, harder to find, and not as nutritionally dense as other nut butters, according to Childress.
Macadamia nut butter can reduce cholesterol and support heart health
This butter is ideal for those on keto and low-carb diets as well as those wanting to take their health up a notch, according to Butler.
“This nut has a similar creamy mouthfeel as cashew but with improved nutrition – almost three times as much fibre, 40% less carbs, more monounsaturated fats, and has been shown to reduce several inflammatory markers,” Butler told INSIDER. Macadamia butter also helps to reduce cholesterol and support heart health, she added.
It does contain the highest amount of calories and fat per serving of all nut butter and typically costs more, Childress said.
Brazil nut butter is an excellent source of selenium, boosting your immune system
“Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, which is good for the cardiovascular and immune systems,” Childress told INSIDER. Just one Brazil nut can provide 140% of your daily needs for selenium, according to Butler. They also contain several B vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron, she added.
Brazil nut butter, however, is relatively low in protein at 4 grams per serving, which is half the amount of peanut butter.
Pecan butter is packed with vitamins and minerals
Pecan butter is high in fat and calories, Childress said but packs a powerful punch in the way of several vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and E, magnesium, and potassium.
Pecan butter is also one of the richest nut butter in manganese, Butler told INSIDER.
“Manganese is an essential mineral required in superoxide dismutase (SOD), which many experts believe is the body’s most important antioxidant, protecting cells from damage,” Butler said. “Low SOD is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, some cancers, and other diseases.”
Hazelnut butter can be a great choice for those following a keto diet
For those with peanut allergies, hazelnut butter can serve as an alternative. Also, in its pure form, it is low in carbohydrates and high in fat so it is a good choice for those who follow a keto diet, Childress told INSIDER.
But it does tend to be low in protein, higher in calories – usually from added sugars – and is quite a bit more expensive, Childress added. It’s also difficult to find in its pure form. Most of the time, you’ll find it mixed with chocolate.
Pistachio butter can provide you with an electrolyte boost
Although pistachios are lower in calories than many other nuts, this does not translate over into pistachio butter, Childress explained. “It contains about the same amount of calories as peanut butter but also about the same amount of protein,” she told INSIDER.
Pistachio butter can be a great option for those who need an electrolyte boost as it’s a good source of potassium, Childress said.
Mixed nut butter offers a unique flavour and nutrient profile
“Depending on the nuts included, a mixed nut butter could be the best of all worlds, providing a wider variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, fats than would be found in single nut butter,” Butler told INSIDER.
The mixture of different nuts allows for a unique nutritional profile as well as a unique flavour, according to Childress. Unfortunately, it’s extremely rare to find mixed nut butter at the store.
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