June 30, 2021
Nut and seed butters have gone through an evolution in the 21st century. Gone are the days of Skippy and Jif being the only options on the shelf. Today, we want variety, better ingredients, and fewer additives, and the new generation of nut and seed butters delivers.
Nut & Seed Butter Benefits
Nut and seed butters contain many nutrients, like fiber, vitamins and minerals, protein and healthy fats. In moderation, they are an excellent source of high-quality nutrients and an easy addition to a variety of meals and snacks. In all cases, look for nut butters with very few ingredients, limited added sugars or oils.
Peanut butter has cleaned up its act, if you will, and now you can easily find ‘healthier’ versions of peanut butter that are made with fewer ingredients, without all of the added salt, sugar and oils present in traditional peanut butters. But that does not mean you have to default to the classic: there are now plenty of peanut butter alternatives out there that offer a range of flavors and health benefits, and ones that can serve as a non-allergen alternative.
“Here at Co-opwe carry about four different brands of alternative nut butters,” says Carmel Gagnon, Natural Choice Advisor, Calgary Co-op. “I really like to recommend Nuts To You; they are simple and clean, with the only ingredients being the nut itself and sometimes adding a healthy oil like sunflower. Another one similar is MaraNatha, they simply do raw almond or roasted almond and nothing else.”
Let’s dig in on the different nut and seed butters available.
The Nut & Seed Butter Shortlist
Almond Butter is low in sugar, and has a bit more calcium and monounsaturated fats than peanut butter. It has an earthy flavor, and often a slightly drier texture than peanut butter. The lack of sweetness makes it a great option for adding into desserts, oatmeal, and shakes.
“Almond butter is probably the most popular alternative nut butter right now, and the most nutrient dense of all the alternatives,” says Gagnon. “It has the most similar taste to peanut compared to the other alternatives. Although it is a bit lower in protein per serving than peanut butter, it still comes in at around 6-7 grams of protein per serving, while in comparison, one egg delivers 6 grams of protein.”
Cashew Butter has a lower fat content than peanut butter, but often has sugar added in to enhance the flavor. If you are avoiding legumes (like soybeans or peanuts) it is one of the best nut butter options and it has the added bonus of being one of the more iron-dense butters.
“Cashew Butter is smooth, creamy and lower in fat than the others.” Explains Gagnon. “Although it doesn’t contain omega-3 fatty acids, it is one of the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids and magnesium. These nutrients being beneficial for blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol control, bone health, the immune system and your metabolism. One tablespoon of this, sits at around 95 calories.
Pumpkin Seed Butter is made from the soft, young pumpkin seeds, called pepitas. It has a rich, nutty flavor that stands out on sandwiches, and when mixed into sauces. Pumpkin seed butter is allergy-friendly, and can be a lower calorie, higher protein option than traditional nut butters, depending on the additives.
Sesame Seed Butter, or Tahini, is made from finely ground sesame seeds. Sesame seed butter rarely has added sugars, and has a distinct sharp but nutty flavor. It is terrific when used in hummus, sauces, wrap and sandwiches. Sesame seed butter is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking and can add great depth and complexity to savory dishes. It’s also a way to add protein and a velvety texture to baked goods!
Sunflower Seed Butter is another alternative to those with tree nut allergies. Sunflower seed butter contains about twice as much magnesium, iron, and zinc, and four times as much vitamin E, as traditional peanut butter.
“Sunflower seed butter is very low in saturated fats and contains no trans fat.
With both almond and sunflower, the nutrients in them can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases, it can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent inflammation, and even aid in weight control,” Gagnon says.
Other Specialty Butters
Fatso Butter is a butter designed for specific diets, like keto, or for those athletes hoping to consume more fats. It contains peanuts, coconut oil, tapioca flour, avocado oil, chia seeds, flax seeds and MCT oil. These added oils and seeds increase the fiber, nutrients and fat content of these butters, but if a fat bomb is what you are looking for – Fatso butter is it.
Wowbutter is a brand name soy nut butter. Soy nut butters have a similar taste to peanut butter but are nut-free and have less fat than traditional peanut butter.
“They do add sugar to it, but for anyone that needs that extra sweetness in their nut butter, it is a very small amount.”
If you’re stocking up, it’s worth knowing that some nut and seed butters require refrigeration. Another tip to keep your nut butters ready to eat? Flip them upside down from time to time (with the cap on securely!) to keep the oils from separating from the nuts.
Please Note: Health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health advice. This general information is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Any information, advice, or suggestions given by Calgary Co-op staff is not a replacement for medical advice from your Doctor, Dentist, or professional Practitioner. Consult with your healthcare professional with any questions you may have.
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