Of all the nut butters, you’re probably most familiar with peanut butter. If you’re not allergic to tree nuts, you can choose from a variety of heart-healthy nut butters. A wide range of nut butters provide numerous health benefits. Check your health food store for nut butters made from:
Nut butters contain important nutrients, including:
- healthy fats
- vitamins and minerals
The specific nutrients in nut butter vary depending on the type of nut, but all nuts are good sources of healthy fats.
Check the label
Be sure to check the label before selecting a nut butter. Not all nut butters have healthful ingredients. Choose products that have only one ingredient—your nut of choice—and skip butters that contain excess salt and sugar as well as partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils (a source of unhealthy trans fats).
If the product says, 'no stir', it's likely the manufacturer added rapeseed oil or palm oil for easy spreading. It's those hydrogenated oils that aren't good for us and can increase bad cholesterol levels.
The bottom line: Eat the butter you like, as long as you choose a natural butter that requires stirring.
While nuts are fantastic sources of nutritious vitamins and minerals, they’re also high in calories. If you eat a lot of nuts or nut butters, cut back on calories in other areas. A healthy daily serving is just a handful of nuts.
Don’t let fear of fat keep you away from trying nut butters, however.
If your allergies force you to keep your distance from all nuts, seeds butters are excellent alternatives. Sunflower seed butter is high in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats. Pumpkin seed butter is a great source of zinc and magnesium, two nutrients that are important for countless functions throughout the body, not the least of which is maintaining strong and healthy bones and muscles. You may also try tahini, sesame seed paste, which has the consistency of nut butter and is also very nutritious while being nut-free.
If you have severe nut allergies, ask your doctor to test for potential soy or seed intolerances before trying these options.