The classic jar of peanut butter you may remember from childhood now has some serious competition, which begs the question: which nut butter is best? When choosing a nut butter, it really comes down to your dietary preferences. But, if you’re anything like me and can’t decide which jar of nut butter to choose from, here are some of the healthiest nut butters.
What to look for when shopping for nut butters
When shopping for any type of nut butter, look for brands that only include nuts as the ingredients. That means no added oils, salt or sugar. Also, when enjoying nut butter, be mindful of portion sizes. Some nut butter varieties have fewer calories than others, but bottom line, when it comes to nut butters, stick to the prescribed portion sizes, which is usually two tablespoons.
Health benefits of nut butters
If you’re just starting to venture away from your usual go-to jar of peanut butter, almond butter is a great place to begin. Almond butter has a texture and thickness similar to peanut butter and is only slightly more grainy due to the natural texture of the almonds.
Bansari Acharya, a Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist holding a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science, says almond butter is considered the healthiest of all the nut butters. A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also one of the most nutrient-dense nut butters. A good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin E, two tablespoons of almond butter contains 7 grams of protein and 190 calories.
One of the creamiest nut butters, cashew butter is savory yet subtly sweet in flavor. Cashew butter contains minerals such as calcium and has 4 grams of protein and 190 calories per two tablespoons. Acharya warns that cashew butter is not the best source of amino acids protein and is high in carbohydrates compared to other nut butters, but that’s not a reason to avoid it all together. Cashew butter is a great nut butter alternative for those looking to avoid legumes, like peanut butter.
Hazelnut butter should not be confused with everyone’s beloved chocolate hazelnut spread, because let’s be real people, Nutella is much more chocolate and refined sugar than actual hazelnuts. Sorry to break it to you!
Just like cashew butter, true hazelnut butter is a great nut butter alternative for those with peanut allergies. Completely free of natural sugars, hazelnut butter is an unusual yet tasty spread. Similar to almond butter, it’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although hazelnut butter is lower in protein compared with other nut butters, Acharya goes on to say that hazelnut butter is an excellent source of copper, fiber, manganese and vitamin E. Two tablespoons of hazelnut butter contain 4 grams of protein and 180 calories.
Macadamia nut butter
Macadamia nut butter contains one of the lowest protein contents of all the nut butters, but if you are practicing a high fat diet, like Keto, you’re in luck. Macadamia nut butter contains a higher amount of fat than most nut butters. A good source of magnesium and vitamin E, macadamia nut butter has 3 grams of protein and 195 calories per two tablespoons.
Natural peanut butter
Natural peanut butter (peanut butter that contains just peanuts and nothing else) is obviously the better choice in comparison to the regular peanut butter you may have enjoyed as a kid. Regular peanut butter may be the cheaper option, but many of the traditional peanut butter brands are full of other oils and sugar.
Acharya explains that natural peanut butter contains the highest level of protein of all nut butters. It’s also low in carbohydrates and is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein and 190 calories.
Pecan butter is similar to almond butter as it contains a grainy yet smooth texture. A bit higher in fat and calories, pecan butter is lower in protein compared to other nut butters. It also contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a fair amount of fiber. Two tablespoons of pecan butter contains 4 grams of protein and 213 calories.
Pistachios. You either love them or hate them, but if you love them, then you will love pistachio butter. Gorgeously green in color, this brilliantly hued nut butter is super tasty. If you are looking for another source of potassium besides bananas, Acharya says pistachio butter is an excellent source of potassium as well as fiber and protein. Two tablespoons of pistachio butter contains 4 grams of protein and 213 calories.
Walnut butter is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids giving it anti-inflammatory properties. Compared with other nut butters, walnut butter is lower in protein, with the exception of pecan butter. Two tablespoons of walnut butter has 3 grams of protein and 174 calories.
The next time you go grocery shopping, swap out your usual go-to nut butter for something new and enjoy the various health benefits of nut butter.