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Try Nut Butters For a Boost to your Diet!

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Peanut butter has been a pantry staple for decades, but head to that aisle of the grocery store today and you’ll likely find dozens of varieties of peanut butter, along with an assortment of other nut butters. In fact, there are so many options available today, it can be hard to know which butter to buy.

In addition to good-for-you unsaturated fats, nuts provide a convenient dose of plant-based protein,  and are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While all have similar nutrients, there are still some differences between each nut, as well as the corresponding butters.

Peanut butter

Protein, per one ounce: 8 grams

While peanuts are technically not a tree nut (they’re a member of the legume family), peanut butter is one of the most protein-dense nut and seed butters you can find. A 1-ounce (2-tablespoon) serving of peanut butter provides 8 grams of plant-based protein, along with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats—the good fats that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Peanut butter also contains more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals, including an impressive amount of the antioxidant vitamin E, and magnesium. Additionally, it’s an excellent source of the B-vitamin niacin, which helps convert food to energy and aids the digestive and nervous systems.

Don’t know what type of P.B. to buy? Choose between creamy and crunchy, depending on your preference. Because of peanut butter’s thick consistency, it is great right out of the jar, spread on toast, or paired with fruit as a nutritious mid-day snack. It can also be used in cooking, such as in a Thai peanut sauce, if you’re looking to add some protein and healthy fats to your meal.

Almond butter

Protein, per one ounce: 7 grams

Almonds deliver a powerful package of nutrients, and are among the lowest in calories. A 1-ounce portion of almond butter delivers about 7 grams of protein—the equivalent of the amount of protein in one egg. Almonds are also low in carbohydrates, and among the highest in fiber of all the tree nuts.

One serving of almond butter provides an excellent dose of vitamin E and magnesium, and is a good source of the B-vitamin riboflavin. Almond butter also stands out as a plant-based source of calcium. Lastly, almond butter is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Much like peanut butter, almond butter is also sold in crunchy or creamy varieties. However, creamy almond butter is more granular than peanut butter due to the natural skins on the almonds. Feel free to enjoy it directly out of the jar, with banana or apple slices, or as a filling component of your next smoothie.

Cashew butter

Protein, per one ounce: 6 grams

Cashew butter provides a decent amount of protein, but not as much as peanut and almond butters. Each 1-ounce serving contains 6 grams of protein. Cashews are also higher in carbohydrates and lower in fiber, compared to other tree nuts. More specifically, cashew butter contains 10 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and only 1 gram of fiber.

However, cashews are still a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. For example, cashews are exceptionally high in iron and zinc, and also boast a noteworthy amount of magnesium and folate.

Due to their higher starch content compared to other nuts, blended cashews can easily be used as a non-dairy thickener. In this state, cashews can be added to creamy sauces, soups, or used to make a sweetened cashew “cream”. If you’re looking for a dairy-free cheese alternative, use cashews to whip up some vegan “ricotta”.

Walnut butter

Protein, per one ounce: About 5 grams

Walnut butter is one of the highest in calories of all the nut and seed butters due to its high fat content. The upside? The fats it contains are exceptionally healthy. Walnuts themselves are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (the only nut with a significant amount of these nutrients) which can improve eye health, heart health, and more. Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium.

However, in terms of protein, walnuts rank among the lowest—providing around 5 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. Still, walnut butter is very low in carbohydrates, and half of the carbs come from fiber. The total amount of fiber is still low, but walnut butter is a good option for those watching their carbohydrate intake.

Walnut butter has an especially savory flavor profile, and can sometimes have a hint of bitterness. Adding a little bit of sweetener, such as maple syrup with a dash of cinnamon, can help reduce the bitter flavor. Try walnut butter in a yogurt parfait, smoothie, oatmeal, or nutritious energy ball.

Hazelnut butter

Protein, per one ounce: 4 grams

Hazelnut butter is a little harder to find in the U.S. and is frequently paired with chocolate, (hello Nutella!) but if you can find it in its pure form (or make it yourself), it is truly delicious.

Nutritionally speaking, hazelnut butter is lower in protein compared to other nuts, providing 4 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. The carbohydrates are also low, and the fiber content will vary depending on the brand (it typically ranges from 1 to 3 grams), but hazelnut butter is a source of omega-6 and omega-9 unsaturated fatty acids. Though not as nutritious as those oft-discussed omega-3s, both still have health benefits. For example, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, while omega-9s can help decrease inflammation.

Similar to other nut butters, hazelnut butter is an excellent source of vitamin E and copper, and also contains solid amounts of B-vitamins, magnesium, and iron. One serving of hazelnut butter provides over 80 percent of the daily value for manganese, which helps the body reduce damage from free radicals.

Pistachio butter

Protein, per one ounce: 6 grams

Pistachio butter is definitely less common than some of the other butters on this list, but it’s one of the most nutritious nut butters around. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, we recommend whipping some up yourself.

Pistachios are the only nut mentioned in this list that has all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts to be a complete protein. This means that while the protein content comes out to around 6 grams per serving, pistachio butter is the only nut butter that is labeled by the FDA as a good source of protein. Essentially, while pistachio butter may have slightly fewer grams of protein per serving than other nut butters, the protein it does have is of high quality and is easier absorbed by the body.

What’s more? Pistachio butter contains 3 grams of fiber per serving and is high in good monounsaturated fats. Pistachios also have a variety of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, and are a great source of antioxidants—especially those that are important for eye health.

In the kitchen, pistachio butter is incredibly versatile. It’s great to use in a savory appetizer (i.e. paired with cheese), in baked goods, or savory cooking. Try it out in a pesto or quick Italian-inspired pasta sauce!


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