Nut butters have had a popularity surge this year, and for a scrummy good reason! That’s not to say many of us weren’t already devouring the stuff years ago, but nut butters have gone mainstream in 2015!
Almond butter has been the bread earner of the year, and left the other alternatives somewhat in their shells. But why? I have investigated the rise in consumption of nut butters and why Almond Butter has been given the limelight…
Crunchy or smooth, salted or plain, almond butter is a delicious and healthier alternative to peanut butter. Famed as the most nutritionally dense nut, and one of the only alkaline forming that we know off (Chestnuts churned do not make nut butter – we’ve tried!) it has become a go to staple in many homes. It an easy substitute for peanut butter and contains less natural sugar, is free from added hydrogenated oils and packs in an extra 3 grams of monounsaturated fat per two tablespoon serving and a third of the amount of saturated fat found in peanut butter.
Almonds are packed full of Vitamin E, Potassium, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. Per tablespoon, almond butter provides 27% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps safeguard cell membranes and thus maintain healthy eyes, skin, nails and immune system. A tablespoon of almond butter also packs in 11% of your RDA of Magnesium (important for the nervous system and muscle contraction) and 8% of your RDA of Iron (plus it tastes a whole load nicer than a can of Pop Eye spinach!).
Now available in most supermarkets, or very easy to make your own, Almond butter breaks down at:
Fat: 8 grams
Sugar: 0.8 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams
Wriggly shaped walnuts make a thick and slightly sweet nut butter – almost paste like in consistency and perfect for bulking up energy balls and topped on apple slices. Pecans have always been the darling nut, especially at this festive time of year, and even more so candied and piled into pecan pie. Yet it is the Omega-3’s and 6’s in these little babies that is what has everyone crazy for walnuts, and swapping them for pecans in many dishes is as easy as pie.
Both Omega 3 and 6 are wonderful for heart health, cell growth, immune function, blood clotting and disease prevention. They are also full of antioxidants, Vitamin B and Vitamin E.
Although lower in protein than most other nuts and higher in fats, the difference is worth it if you are following a diet that may be lacking in essential fatty acids i.e. vegan, raw or or vegetarian.
Fat: 9.5 grams
Sugar: 0.5 gram
Protein: 2.5 grams
Salty, crunchy, tasty little legumes… ehm yes legumes – the most famous of all nuts is in fact not a true “nut” by definition, we have all been deceived! Peanuts actually grow in a fruit pod deep underground, and are the seedlings of a yellow flowering herb! Anyway, Newtriciously You will follow the crowd and continue to include the humble peanut in our repertoire of nuts – anyway who wants a bowl of salty pealegumes!
There is a reason that the peanut is by far the most popular nut, it is the least costly and most available of all nuts and the most versatile. Although the cashew and the almond come close in terms of usages, the peanut always wins – its tradition.
Peanut butter, however many replacements there may be on the market, is always going to be a favourite and is probably the nut most associated with mischief. Peanut butter and jelly, salted peanuts, roasted peanuts, chocolate covered peanuts, peanut butter cheesecake, Reeses cups, peanut satay.. the list is never ending.
Of all the nut butters we’ve tried and tested – it is without a doubt, the winner of best consistency. Smooth or crunchy, the consistency of peanut butter is creamy, velvety, glossy and soft. It doesn’t suffer from the oil separation that you find with other nut butters and is therefore Mr. Reliable.
Nutrition wise, the peanut has had a bit of a dark shadow cast upon it, as so many of the other nuts outshine its qualities. We are not denying that, but that is not to say that Peanuts aren’t nutritionally robust. It is high in Omega-6 fatty acids which is great for bone strength, is one of the richest sources of Biotin: which is particularly important during pregnancy and packs in 3.5g of protein per Tablespoon!
Fat: 8 grams
Sugar: 0.5 gram
Protein: 3.5 grams
Can you ca-shew ‘cause we can, and love to! Cashew butter is the healthier brother of Peanut butter – they both have the same consistency and similar flavour, but cashew butter packs more essential Omega-3s, with an amazing 82% of their fats being unsaturated. Cashews also have great levels of Iron and magnesium, which are necessary for strong bone and muscle repair and these little curly friends help to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, great for those suffering from insulin resistance and diabetes.
Fat: 7.5 grams
Sugar: 1 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Hazlenut butter is by far our favourite of the nut butters when it comes to needing something sweet! Brought up on Nutella sugar-highs, Hazlenut butter has come to save us from diabetes! A spoonful with a little agave and you’ve got yourself heaven on a spoon. And as if you needed further convincing, hazelnuts are rich in folate, an essential B-complex that helps with absorption of Iron and energy levels and vitamin E, with each 50g serving providing you with half your RDA.
Fat: 8.5 grams
Sugar: 1 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Peanut butter has gained a bad reputation recently and is shunned upon by healthy advocates as the “naughty” nut butter – and after our investigation into the nutritional breakdown of each of our favourite nut butters, we were at a loss as to why? Peanut butter seems to be pretty darn good for you – it has the highest protein content of all the nut butters, the same calorific levels and the levels of nutrients between peanut versus almond is merely a gram or two different.
And we have the answer as to why peanut butter is experiencing such nut discrimination. Peanuts are the most allergenic of the nuts, and as they are legumes can cause upset to some people’s digestive system. They are also notoriously known for the pesticides that are used to boost their difficult growth levels, and are also highly susceptible to a fungi called Aflatoxins which are associated with a number of diseases. Finally, many brands of peanut butter are injected with sugar to create that sweet/salty heavenly combination – but this is where their downfall resides. Making sure to choose an organic, pure peanut butter is without a doubt the best choice.
So taking the above findings into account, I have realised why Almond Butter has been made Ms. Nut butter of the decade. It is the all-round winner in respects to levels of nutrients, fat, protein and calories – oh and of course taste!
My advice – try to buy a blended nut butter consisting of a mix of nut butters – or make your own! Our chosen combination would be walnut, almond and hazelnut for a sweet kick or peanut, almond and cashew. There are a number of brands that stock mixed nut butters, and Wholefoods and other independent health food stores help you make your own! For a somewhat sinful feeling sweet treat, try and make macadamia and pecan nut butter…you will never go back!