I’m currently following a whole-foods diet – mostly plant-based. Which for me includes eating more nuts.
If you’re like me and you have no allergy or sensitivity to them, nuts offer numerous health benefits. Believe it or not, nut butters, depending on brand, do qualify as a “whole food.”
Some manufacturers add salt, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Others, like our Vince’s Own brand, use only peanuts, almonds, or cashews. This is my preference both for health reasons, and taste.
Nuts in general, and nut butters, are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. However, arguably the most popular one – peanuts – may look and taste like nuts, but are actually legumes.
Natural Peanut Butter
The similarities don’t stop there. Like true nuts, peanuts are high in fat, approximately 50 percent by weight. Roughly half of that is healthy monounsaturated fat, another third is polyunsaturated omega 6, and the rest is saturated fat.
The remainder of the peanut is split between protein and carbohydrate, with the latter being mostly fibre – not sugars. It’s a decent nutritional profile, especially if you’re leaning towards a low-carb or keto diet.
There’s still more to this spread. It’s rich in potassium and magnesium, and a good source of vitamins E, B3, B6, and folate. However, be sure to use it in moderation, as a typical two-tablespoon serving clocks in at 188 calories. This is about the same as six cups of broccoli!
Both peanut butter and almond butter are nearly equal in calories and fat. The difference is that almond butter has roughly 25 percent more monounsaturated fat, and less saturated fat. Which in my mind, gives it the edge.
This nut butter also has three times the vitamin E and seven times the calcium – not to mention more fiber. But it also costs significantly more, so I tend to buy it less often.
Creamy Cashew Butter
The cashew, like the peanut, is not a nut, but neither is it a legume. It is a seed of a “drupe” (the cashew fruit). It is also pricier than the peanut, which makes cashew butter a less common option.
That being said, it is one of my favourite spreads, as it’s naturally sweet (without adding sugar), and is deliciously creamy.
Bottom line: use your imagination. There are many more ways – other than sandwiches – to enjoy delicious, natural nut butters. One of my favourites was a recent Power Up recipe for Creamy Peanut Butter Cups. These are decadent, yet surprisingly healthy. And you can substitute in the other nut butters.
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Give it a try, and let me know what you think!