October 19, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Nut Butters

I am allergic to peanuts, so peanut butter is out of the question for me.

Of all the other nut butters, which is the most nutritious?

-- Danielle Spolner
San Francisco, CA

All nut butters share similar nutritional profiles.

Peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, and soynut butters all offer protein, healthy fats, and between 175 and 200 calories in a 2 tablespoon serving.

One big plus about almond, cashew, and sunflower seed butters is that they are only available in natural form (meaning they exclusively made of crushed nuts and, in some cases, salt), whereas some brands of peanut and soy butters add partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and sugar.

That said, there are a few differences worth pointing out.

Almond butter is the most caloric, but it also offers the highest amount of monounsaturated (heart healthy) fat, vitamin E, and manganese. Of all the nut butters, it has the lowest protein content (4 grams per serving.)

Cashew butter offers the same amount of calories as peanut butter but offers the least amount of vitamin E per serving (2 percent of the Daily Value.)

Sunflowerseed butter is very similar to peanut butter, but offers half the monounsaturated fats.

Soy butter is the highest in protein and lowest in calories. It also, however, provides the lowest value of monounsaturated fats.

Since the differences are quite minimal, I suggest you simply pick the one you enjoy most.

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