Wonderful as spreads on English muffins or dips for Granny Smith apples and celery, nut butters are delicious and pack a good deal of nutrition.
All varieties -- peanut, almond, cashew -- provide 180 - 200 calories and 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.
They are also good sources of vitamin E, niacin (Vitamin B3), manganese, and phosphorus.
Reduced fat nut butters are simply marketing gimmicks. On average, they offer a mere ten less calories than their regular counterparts.
How so? The small amount of fat that is taken away is replaced with extra carbohydrates (usually double that of regular nut butter).
The key to finding the healthiest, least processed nut butters is to read the label.
Brands like Jif and Skippy lis the following ingredients:
"Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Salt."
In essence, crushed peanuts with sugar and trans fat.
You can do better than that by reaching for natural nut butters. Their labels tell the tale:
Wow, imagine that!
If you are buying no-salt-added varieties (which I prefer solely from taste perspective; nut butters with salt offer a very decent 140 milligrams per serving, far from a high-sodium food), the sole ingredient is peanuts.
Natural nut butters need to be mixed when you first open them, as the oil separates from the solid nut paste.
After mixing, store in the refrigerator to delay spoilage.