Most of us fell in love with classic peanut butter in childhood, but there has since been an explosion in different nut butters to choose from! Ranging from cashew butter to walnut butter and more, each brings its own benefits to the table.
Overall, nut butters are a great way to add more protein and healthy fats into your day as a filling and satisfying snack!
This is your guide to identifying the healthiest nut butter for you, based on calories, macronutrients, and more.
Photo Credit: Ocean Robbins, https://foodrevolution.org/
As a child, you might remember eating lots of PB&Js or spreading peanut butter on crackers as an afternoon snack. However, this kind of peanut butter was likely filled with extra sugars and fats to make the taste more appealing for children. With this in mind, sticking to natural nut butters is integral for remaining as healthy as possible with your peanut butter selection.
Although low-fat peanut butters reduce added fats, these options often add more sugars to save the taste, thus making it less healthy in the long run compared to all-natural alternatives.
According to the USDA, in two tablespoons of peanut butter, there are roughly 8 grams of protein (the most of all of the nut butters), 16 grams of fat, with 8 grams of this area being monounsaturated fats, which are healthy for the heart, along with roughly 208 milligrams of potassium and 14 milligrams of calcium included. This brings peanut butter to around 188 calories per serving (although caloric content ranges based on the brand and additives (always check the label to ensure you know exactly what you are getting!)
Almond butter is a bit healthier than peanut butter as the former contains more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It has a similar consistency but contains 3 more grams of monounsaturated fats per serving than peanut butter.
According to the USDA, almond butter packs in around 7 grams of protein, a bit lower than the former, and 18 grams of fat. However, 10 grams of fat in this area include monounsaturated fats (good fats), which is 2 more than the classic peanut butter option.
There are 240 milligrams of potassium per two tablespoons of almond butter, which is over 30 milligrams higher than that of peanut butter. Almond butter is also higher than peanut butter in calcium, with roughly 120 milligrams compared to 14 milligrams in peanut butter.
Almond butter contains roughly 196 calories per serving (size can vary), making it a bit higher in terms of caloric content than peanut or cashew butter.
Cashew butter is a rich and creamy option that is a tasty alternative to peanut butter. An immediate benefit is its rich iron content; one serving comprises roughly 10% of your daily value of iron.
According to the USDA, cashew butters hold around 5.6 grams of protein, making it over 2 grams less than that of peanut butter, along with 16 grams of fat, with roughly 9 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats. This nut butter also contains 174 milligrams of potassium.
Cashew butter is made up of roughly the same amount of calories (188) as peanut butter on a per serving basis.
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Walnut butter is an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids compared to the other butters in the running. Although it's a bit harder to come by, this is one of the tastiest spreads for your nutty snacks.
According to the USDA, walnut butters contain 5 grams of protein per serving, making it the least protein of all of the nut butters. There are 20 grams of total fat, with only 3 grams being monounsaturated, around 30 milligrams of calcium, and roughly 141 milligrams of potassium.
Walnut butter contains around 209 calories, making it the highest of the nut butters. Thus, the saving grace of this option (aside from its taste) is that it holds the most omega-3 fatty acids of all of the nut butters.
Although an unconventional addition to the nut butter list, the FDA classifies coconuts as tree nuts!
A unique alternative to the other options, coconut butter contains lauric acid, which is beneficial to immune system health as a medium-chain fatty acid that is second best for this nutrient (the first being breast milk).
Rich in fiber and iron, this nut butter is a great aid for weight loss and for promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails.
There are roughly 2 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat (all of which are saturated fats), 10 milligrams of calcium, and no potassium.
Coming in at around 186 calories per serving, coconut butter is not the healthiest option or most nutrient-dense choice, but it does represent an amazing change from the norm!
Hazelnut butter can be a riskier choice, as many brands tend to add chocolate or other sources of sugar into the mixture. Thus, this nut butter should be eaten sparingly compared to the other healthy options as discussed.
There are 2 grams of protein in hazelnut butter, along with 11 grams of fat, which makes up 90% of the total caloric content of this nut butter option. It also contains 40 milligrams of calcium and 151 milligrams of potassium.
There are roughly 200 calories in two tablespoons of hazelnut butter. With this information in mind, this nut butter ranks lower on the totem pole in terms of nutritional value.
A great alternative to peanut butter (especially for those with peanut allergies), soy nut butter is similar in texture and taste to the classic nut butter option.
There are 7 grams of soy protein and 9 grams of total fat, 5 grams of which are monounsaturated fats. This type of nut butter is the highest of the options in several nutrients, such as 240 milligrams of potassium and 111 milligrams of calcium in just two tablespoons!
There are around 196 calories in two tablespoons of soy nut butter.
Men considering this option should undertake additional research, as there have been some studies indicating that soy may have an adverse effect on testosterone levels.
Another out-of-the-box option, Sunflower Seed Butter is tree nut allergy safe and a great source of protein, magnesium, and Vitamin E, and beneficial fats.
According to the USDA, sunflower butter contains around 5.6 grams of protein and 18 grams of total fat, 12 grams of which are monounsaturated fats. There are 184 milligrams of potassium and 20 milligrams of calcium, bringing it higher on the list in terms of these nutrients.
There are roughly 198 calories in sunflower butter, roughly on par with the other nut butters. A large benefit about this type of nut butter is that it contains close to 4 times the amount of Vitamin E as peanut butter, and almost double the amount of nutrients like phosphorus, zinc, iron, and magnesium!
Made from toasted ground sesame seeds, this Middle Eastern condiment pairs well with falafel, hummus, on toast, on salad, and many other foods! As a word of caution, sesame seeds and tahini might not be safe for those with peanut allergies.
Sesame seeds contain lots of essential nutrients: “Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber” (Health.ClevelandClinic).
There are 5.2 grams of protein in tahini, along with 16 grams of total fat, 6 grams of which are monounsaturated fats. With 124 milligrams of potassium and 128 milligrams of calcium, this option is quite high in nutritional value among the other nut butter alternatives.
There are 178 calories in two tablespoons of tahini, making it the lowest amount of calories per serving of all nut butters on the list!
Ultimately, it depends on your macro nutritional priorities!
Nut butters are typically packed with nutrients, including fiber, phosphorus, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and more. However, some products have additives which alter the natural nutritional profiles of various nut butters.
Overall, it's best to avoid nut butters that include added sugars, bad fats, and that are surprisingly high in calories.
No matter your personal preference on nut butters, it is clear that each one has lots of benefits for your dietary needs.
As a great source of protein and healthy fats, nut butters are an excellent addition to meals, snacks, and as toppings to your favorite dishes.