Nut butters taste good and they’re good for you (in moderation!) — here’s what you need to know
The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a quintessential childhood lunch item, and many of us continue to eat PBJs as adults. But peanut butter isn’t the limit when it comes to nut (or seed!) butters, and sandwiches aren’t the limit when it comes to consuming them.
Today we have peanut, cashew, almond and even sunflower butter. Are all these options the same? Are they as healthy as people say? We asked Jessica VanCleave, a registered dietitian at OhioHealth.
1. Nut Butters Provide Several Key Nutrients
“Nut butters are a good source of protein, fiber and unsaturated fat,” VanCleave says. Together, these three nutrients help you feel satiated until your next meal, which makes nut butter a spectacular snack!
2. Nut Butter Consumption Offers Long-Term Health Benefits
Not only are nut butters filling, they also offer long-term health benefits. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of unsaturated fat, which can lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, VanCleave says. This reduces the risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events.
3. Natural Nut Butters Might Not Be So Natural
When you pick out a jar of nut butter, make sure it doesn’t have a lot of extra additives. OK, so maybe you already knew that and might even have reached for a jar of “natural” nut butter to avoid this issue.
However, VanCleave says, “The FDA does not have a formal definition for food products claiming to be ‘natural.’ The only requirement is that they must be free from artificial and synthetic additives.” If you feel misled, you’re not alone.
When you select a nut butter, examine the ingredients — with peanut butter, for example, the only ingredients should be peanuts and salt. If you don’t check, you might buy “natural” peanut butter that contains hydrogenated oil and added sugar.
4. This Underrated Nut Butter Deserves a Nod
One of the best nut butters might be one you’ve never tried. “Walnut butter leads the pack since walnuts contain a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3s,” VanCleave says.
That said, walnut butter can be more difficult to find and tends to cost more. All nut butters offer their own unique benefits though, so don’t feel like you’re tied to just one. Try a few, rotate what you like best, and let your personal preference and budget guide you.
5. The Best Way to Snack? In Moderation
One of the best qualities of nut butter is that it can be added to just about anything. Spread it on celery, smear it on an apple slice, or toss it in your morning oatmeal — there are about a million ways to enjoy nut butter!
The downside? There are about a million ways to enjoy nut butter.
Every new way you find to eat it is another opportunity to eat too much. Two tablespoons contain around 200 calories. If you keep this in mind, you’ll be much more likely to consume nut butters in moderation and enjoy all the health benefits they provide!
Want to learn more nutrition tips? Join us for a nutrition class at OhioHealth!