10 Nut Butters That Are Good For You And Your Family
According to Food and Drug Administration, Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease. Also, Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source notes that the results of several large studies over the past few years “have shown a consistent 30 to 50 percent lower risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week.” Here are some of the healthy nut betters that are good for your mamily.
Peanut butter is probably the most familiar of all nut butters. About 80 percent of the fat in peanut butter is unsaturated, and two tablespoons contains seven grams of protein and about 180 milligrams of potassium. Unfortunately, there’s tremendous variation in the quality of peanut butters sold. Look closely at the ingredient list of peanut butter products to avoid sweeteners like corn syrup and cane sugar as well as added oils — especially “partially hydrogenated oil,” which is a source of trans fats. Trans fats are used to extend the shelf life of processed foods, but they’re strongly linked to heart disease, and experts agree they should be avoided. Look for peanut butters that contain peanuts and salt (if you prefer the salted varieties) and nothing more. Lastly, steer clear of reduced-fat peanut butters, which are highly likely to contain additives.
“Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts,” Middleberg says. They’re a great source of riboflavin, magnesium and manganese (which, she explains, is great for the prevention of osteoporosis as well as a healthy metabolism), and also provide an impressive amount of vitamin E per serving. By choosing almond butter as your spread, you’ll also get flavonoids, compounds that are extremely useful in fighting heart disease and cancer.
Coconut butter, also sometimes called coconut “manna,” is a purée of mature coconut flesh. It’s different than coconut oil, which is extracted from the flesh and contains no fiber. Coconut butter is beige to white in color, and its texture is smooth and creamy. Use coconut butter as a spread on toast or as a creamy ingredient in baked goods. Coconut has a high concentration of lauric acid, which, despite being a saturated fat, is thought to have antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Lauric acid is also a particular type of saturated fat known as a medium chain triglyceride, or MCT. A unique characteristic of MCTs is that, once consumed, they are used immediately for energy, and they can also raise both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. But experts warn that because the fats in coconut raise both types of cholesterol, it should be eaten in moderation.
With a rich, smooth texture, cashew butter is slightly lower in calcium than other varieties, but can still pack a nutritional punch. “It’s a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and copper, and shouldn’t be overlooked,” Middleberg explains. Magnesium boasts a myriad of health benefits, Middleberg continues, “such as helping your body relieve various conditions like constipation, insomnia, headaches and muscle cramps, as well as regulating the immune system and supporting brain function.” Though cashew butters tend to be harder to find—you might have to log on to find the healthiest varieties—their laundry list of health benefits make them well worth the hunt. Cashews also contain a good amount of biotin, which will help keep your locks shiny and lustrous. Try using decadent cashew butter in weight loss smoothies and desserts to reap all the nutritional benefits and give yourself a healthful treat.
A great alternative for those with tree nut allergies, sunbutter is a powerful seed-based butter. “Sunflower seeds can provide even more fiber, magnesium and vitamin E than traditional nut butters,” Middleberg says. Sun butters are also a “wonderful source of protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid and selenium,” she explains. Studies have shown that sunflower seed butter is also anti-inflammatory and preventative against cancer and heart disease.
Pistachio butter is not the most common of nut butters to find on your grocery-store shelf, but you can easily buy it online and at specialty stores. Pistachios are lower in fat than most nuts (two tablespoons of pistachio butter contains 14 grams of fat as compared with 16 grams for the same amount of almond butter), which makes pistachio nut butter a bit more dense and less oily in texture than other nut butters. Pistachios also contain a good dose of copper — just one ounce of nuts, equivalent to two tablespoons of nut butter, provides more than 40 percent of the RDA of copper. Copper is important for energy production, iron metabolism and building strong bones and connective tissues.
Walnuts are prized for their high omega-3 content. Omega-3 fats help with normal heart rate and blood flow, reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and improve arthritis symptoms. At 2.5 grams per ounce, walnuts contain five times more omega-3 fats than pecans, which have the next highest concentration. Two tablespoons of raw walnut butter provide a similar amount of omega-3 fats. Because of the high proportion of this fragile fat, walnuts and their butter can turn rancid easily — especially with exposure to heat and air, so store the butter in the fridge. Walnut butter has an earthy, buttery taste, but it may also have a sharp bitter note, so it’s often a mixed with other nuts that lend a sweetness.
BRAZIL NUT BUTTER
Brazil nuts are large, oval seeds of giant trees from the rainforest of Central and South America. Brazil nut butter is often made simply from organic raw Brazil nuts without any additional ingredients. The Brazil nut’s claim to nutrition fame is its exceptionally high selenium content: Just one ounce of the nuts contains about 10 times the recommended daily intake. Although most people in the U.S. get adequate selenium in their diets, the mineral is so important that adding a rich source of selenium like Brazil nut butter to one’s diet is certainly a nod to good health. The National Institutes of Health notes: “Because of its effects on DNA repair…and the endocrine and immune systems … including its antioxidant properties … selenium might play a role in the prevention of cancer.”
MIXED NUT BUTTERS
Mixed-nut butters can be rather simple, containing just two different nuts or a mixture of three. Some mixed-nut butters contain up to seven different nuts. Mixing nuts into one product allows for the unique nutritional benefits of different nuts to show up in the same container. For instance, Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, while almonds are high in calcium and magnesium. Mixed-nut butters rarely contain sweeteners or other added ingredients.
NUT BUTTERS WITH SUPERFOOD INGREDIENTS
If you thought the nutritionally praiseworthy nut butter couldn’t get any healthier, you overlooked the superfood-spiked nut butter. Super foods (or “functional foods”), as the name implies, appear to have outstanding health benefits. According to Health Canada, “A functional food is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food, is consumed as part of a usual diet, and is demonstrated to have physiological beneﬁts and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions.”