Daily consumption of nut butter has been proven to provide wonderful health benefits that you don’t want to miss out on, but it can be so overwhelming to try and find a good one.
Standing in the grocery store aisle, gazing up at the hoard of different nut butters on the shelves, how are you supposed to choose? Are some better than others? The answer is emphatically, “yes!” After reading this article, I hope you will have a better understanding of the options, and can then make a confident, informed decision next time you find yourself in the nut butter aisle.
Nut Butter Health Benefits
Nearly all nuts, raw or roasted, contain healthy fats. These fats work in your body to reduce bad cholesterol levels, which in turn regulates blood pressure and lessens the risk of major heart attacks and heart disease.
Nuts also pack several beneficial minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese and more, which work to eliminate free radicals in your body, reducing the risk of cancer. Powerful vitamins, such as Vitamin B1 of thiamin (found in raw nuts like pistachios), metabolize fats and carbs while regulating muscle function and the nervous system. Vitamin B6, found in raw and roasted almonds, helps provide folate to fight the risk of heart disease and bad cholesterol levels.
Since nuts are a concentrated source of protein, fiber and fats, they are quite filling and will digest slowly, which is helpful for healthy weight maintenance. Raw almonds are digested more slowly than roasted almonds, and they swell more when ingested, resulting in a greater feeling of fullness that satiates hunger longer. Roasting makes almonds more easily and effectively digested, which satisfies hunger more quickly, but for a shorter amount of time.
When we think of “nut butter,” most of us typically think of almond butter. If allergies prevent you from eating almonds, not to worry! There are plenty of alternatives to almond butter that still make a tasty, healthy addition any recipe or snack. One common alternative is cashew butter; cashews contain important vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Another substitute is hazelnut butter. Hazelnuts are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids and are packed with all good stuff: protein, fiber, vitamin E, and manganese.
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Choosing a Nut Butter
Any of the brands categorized below would be great choices, but as with anything, there are some that are better than others. Rest assured that purchasing any of these, regardless of their category, are a great fit to your Beyond Diet program.
Pick the one that is the best for your budget and is easily available to you.
Best: organic - raw
Let’s start with the “Cream of the Crop” nut butters. The best options will be the ones that are both Organic and Raw. Raw nut butters are better than roasted because they have not been exposed to heat so they are closer to their natural form. Although it is difficult to obtain truly raw almond butters (because all almonds in the U.S. are required to be pasteurized) the varieties labeled “raw” have undergone less heating than the roasted.
In addition to wanting a raw nut butter, it would be ideal to make sure that it is organic as well. For example, with almond butter, even though almonds have hard shells protecting them, there are reports of various pesticide and other toxin residues routinely found on them (and I much prefer to skip pesticides on my snacks).
- Blue Mountain Organics nut butters can be purchased through their website and include a variety of raw, organic nut butters options such as almond, cashew, hazelnut, coconut, and pecan butter.
- Artisana Organics has a selection of raw, organic nut butters including almond, cashew, pecan, and walnut; they can be purchased through health food websites such as Thrive Market and Vitacost, as well as from certain health food stores such as Whole Foods or Earth Fare.
- Windy City Organics Dastony offers several good options for organic, raw nut butters including almond, cashew, coconut, and hazelnut butters. Dastony can be purchased online through several health food sites; I recommend the Raw Guru or Vitacost websites.
- MaraNatha is another brand option when it comes to raw, organic almond butter (although the majority of their other nut butter products are roasted, so pay close attention to the label to ensure that you’re getting raw). Creamy or crunchy, it is available for purchase on Amazon, Vitacost, and LuckyVitamin.
Better: organic – roasted / lightly toasted
Roasted nut butters have a richer flavor that some people prefer. Buying organic will ensure that your nut butter is full of pure, pesticide-free tastiness.
The heating process of roasting has the potential to destroy certain enzymes, making the nuts (and their corresponding nut butters) less healthful than their raw counterparts. However, roasting nuts does not affect their heart-healthy monounsaturated fat quality or content. Both roasted and raw nut butters are a significant source of protein.
Note: Roasted nut butters are more subject to rancidity than raw butters, because the roasting process may alter the polyunsaturated fats in the nuts (making them more vulnerable to oxidation). To extend the life of your roasted nut butter, be sure to keep it in the refrigerator.
- Woodstock Lightly Toasted Almond or Cashew organic nut butter comes in both salted and unsalted versions, and can be purchased on Vitacost, Amazon, LuckyVitamin, and in some health food stores such as Earth Fare.
- Once Again Lightly Toasted Almond Butter (Amazon, LuckyVitamin, Vitacost)
- NuttZo has a unique, 7-nut organic blend of nut butter (cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, hazelnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds), available for purchase on Thrive Market, LuckyVitamin, Vitacost, and Amazon.
Good: conventional – raw
The following options are not certified organic, but they are raw! Remember, heating processes (like roasting) destroy important enzymes and nutrients within the nut, so raw is always preferable to roasted (even if it’s inorganic).
- Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter can be purchased from any Trader Joe’s grocery store, and is a good, affordable raw nut butter option.
- Maranatha also offers a conventional, raw almond butter option (Amazon, LuckyVitamin, Vitacost).
Good: conventional – roasted / lightly toasted
Although the following options are roasted and not certified organic, the ingredients list for these butters is still commendable: only nuts and (sometimes) sea salt; no unnecessary sugar or oil!
- Naturalmond Georgia Grinders has a selection of nut butters which can be purchased via the Naturalmond website, Amazon, and The Fresh Market stores nationwide.
- Vitacost All- Natural Smooth & Unsalted Lightly Toasted Almond Butter (available for purchase on Vitacost).
- Simple Truth Almond Butter (available for purchase on Vitacost).
- Woodstock All Natural Almond Butter (available for purchase on Amazon, LuckyVitamin and Vitacost).
Avoid: any nut butter containing additives
Watch out for and avoid buying these nut butter types and/or brands, and any others containing unnecessary additives such as evaporated cane syrup and palm oil.
- Maranatha: unfortunately some of Maranatha’s nut butters (aside from the organic, raw versions listed in this first part of this article) contain unnecessary sugar and oil. The easy way to identify these no-no’s from Maranatha: the name on the label will include the phrase, “No-stir.” Good rule of thumb when purchasing nut butters: Never buy a “no-stir!”
- Justin’s also contains needless sugar and palm oil…
- …as does Barney Butter
As you can clearly see, there are an overwhelming number of nut butter options out there! Hopefully this explanation and categorization of them proves to be a helpful resource as you decide which one of these options is the best fit for your diet.
Many of our Beyond Diet recipes incorporate nut butter as a great protein source in beyond delicious ways! Here are just a few Beyond Diet favorites (and remember, you can always substitute a different kind of nut butter for almond butter if you prefer).
- Banana Almond Butter Pancakes
- Apple Almond Butter Smoothie
- Almond Butter Zucchini Brownies
- Easy Banana Ice Cream
Would you like access to easy to follow, delicious meal plans that incorporate delicious recipes like these? Do you want to improve your overall health, increase your energy, and experience the same amazing success of over 800,000 people who have seen real, lasting weight-loss results with the Beyond Diet program? Well, what are you waiting for?