Like many aisles of the grocery store, the nut butter one can be challenging to navigate. Are walnut or almond butters best or should you stick with the classic peanut butter? Fortunately, no matter your nut butter preference, you will reap benefits from all types. Nuts and nut butters are naturally high in many healthful nutrients and each variation has its positive qualities. Nut butters are considerably high in fat but they contain the healthy, unsaturated fat type that is associated with decreased blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk. As with any food that is high in fat, nut butters do have a large amount of calories in a small serving. The key is to eat nut butters in moderate portions, a couple tablespoons per day is fine. In fact, despite their caloric punch, nuts and nut butters have been shown to support weight loss. This is probably because they lead to greater satiety than many foods. The healthy fats as well as protein and fiber content of nut butters make them a nutritious and filling food.
Peanut butter seems to have developed somewhat of an unhealthy stigma in recent years but not entirely deservedly. Although peanuts are technically a legume, their nutritional composition is more similar to that of a nut. Like other nuts, they are supportive of weight loss and they have the highest protein content of the nut butters. Be aware that many peanut butters are produced with added sugars and trans fat. Read nutrition facts labels and choose a peanut butter without these additives to reap its benefits. Walnut butter is another fantastic nut butter choice. Walnuts are high in the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid and they contain antioxidant compounds. Pistachios are also anti-inflammatory due to their high lutein content. Lutein is the antioxidant that is responsible for the green hue of the pistachio nut and is also found leafy greens. Almond butter is particularly high in the antioxidant, vitamin E, and contains the most fiber and littlest saturated fat of the nut butters.
Nut butters may be paired with fruit or whole grain crackers to provide a healthy and protein rich snack. But these spreadable treats are more than just a snack food! Add protein to your breakfast meal by putting nut butters in a smoothie or oatmeal. Improve the classic PB&J by spreading your favorite nut butter on whole grain bread and topping it with fresh berries. Experiment with nut butter sauces to compliment garden fresh vegetables and whole grain pasta. Find confidence in knowing that you can’t go wrong in the nut butter section of the supermarket, remembering that each type provides unique benefits. Go nuts and try them all! Just keep an eye on those labels and avoid nut butters with added sugar or hydrogenated (trans) fats on the ingredients list.