We grew up on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but now there’s a lot more of a nut butter to the game. While it can be heartwarming to stick with what we know , changing things to a different broadcast could be beneficial to both your health and the environment.
Nut butter is simply crushed nuts, with the most popular options being peanuts, cashews, or almonds. The natural oils in nuts are released as they break down, giving it a smooth consistency (or buy it in chunks if that’s your preference). These nut butters can be great in smoothies, baked goods, or as sauces and dressings.
The real question remains, is one better than another? We break down the difference between almond, peanut, and cashew butter so you can figure out what to buy at your next grocery store.
Almond butter is the perfect swap for peanut butter if you’re looking to turn things up. The consistency and thickness are comparable, but you get a little extra of nutrients like calcium and potassium. Almond butter pairs well with sweet treats or savory meals, for example, many Asian-inspired dishes use nut butter in sauces. Just make sure you grab a jar that contains the only ingredient you need – dry roasted almonds.
One downside that can cause many people to avoid buying almond butter is the impact it can have on the environment (more details below).
What is almond butter made of?
A good quality almond butter will use dry roasted almonds and skip all the filling ingredients. Keep your eyes peeled on the ingredient label for unnecessary additions, including:
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil: These oils are what can keep nut butters on the shelves for long periods of time, but they’re not that good for our health either. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding foods that contain “partially hydrogenated oils” (also known as trans fats) because they are known to increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol while lowering your “good” HDL cholesterol.
- SaltWhile it’s okay to savor a little salt here and there, it can be difficult to keep track of how much you’ve consumed when it’s added to food. According to the CDC, 70% of salt intake does not come from the salt shaker, but rather from processed foods.
- Added sugar: Whether it’s cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses, or syrups, taking almond butter with the addition of sugar can increase calories and possibly lead to health issues down the road.
- Milk: While it’s rare to see dairy products in nut butter, it’s not totally overkill. You will often see milk added to powdered almond butter or to specialty brands that want to increase the protein content.
Nutritional information on almond butter
According to the USDA, 1 tbsp (16 grams) of unsalted almond butter contains:
Calories: 98 kcal
Protein: 3.36 grams
Calcium: 55.5 mg
Magnesium: 44.6 mg
When it comes to healthy fats, almond butter provides 5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also contains less saturated fatty acids, the type you want to limit in your diet, compared to other nut butters at 0.66 grams per tablespoon.
Is almond butter bad for the environment?
While almond butter can provide several nutritional benefits to our health, what does it do for the environment? About 80 percent of the almonds sold worldwide come from the state of California, a place that offers the perfect environment for growing almonds, but also faces droughts. The problem here is that to produce just 16 almonds you need 15 gallons of water.
When you face a drought, you have no water, and without water, almonds are not produced. This leaves the farmers to turn to the underground aquifers which are difficult to fill and cause the land above to subside. When this happens, aquifers cannot hold as much water as before.
Fortunately, in 2015, the Fast Track Innovation Management program was launched and is working to improve the sustainability of almond cultivation and find innovative ways to improve the management and efficiency of the almond tree. ‘water. In addition, growing almonds creates far fewer greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than dairy products.
When you take those peanuts, remove their shells and crush them, that’s when you end up with peanut butter! This versatile nut butter goes well in smoothies, dressings and even soups.
Unlike almonds, peanuts are extremely environmentally friendly. According to the US Sustainability Alliance, every part of the peanut is used. The cockles (or cockles) are used for animal feed and the vines of the plant are added to the soil to enrich it with nitrogen. They also don’t require a lot of irrigation water, as they’re grown in areas of the Southeastern United States that provide a lot of rainfall.
What is peanut butter made of?
Like any other nut butter, all peanut butter needs are dry roasted peanuts and a quality food processor to turn it into a tasty paste. You will often see these versions labeled as “natural” peanut butter, but make no mistake about it. Always check the ingredient list to be sure.
Peanut butter can be bad for you
Many commercial brands of peanut butter will include additives that keep the peanut butter longer and tasting better.
Take a popular brand of peanut butter for example. Its website states that the creamy peanut butter version includes:
- Roasted peanuts
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils
This brings the total sugar content up to 2 grams of added sugar, saturated fat to 3.5 grams, and sodium to 140 mg per 2 tbsp.
Even their “natural” version contains similar ingredients, with the website stating that it contains 90 percent peanuts (the remaining 10 percent being filled with additional ingredients).
Nutritional information on peanut butter
The USDA lists 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of smooth, unsalted peanut butter to contain:
Calories: 95.5 kcal
Protein: 3.55 grams
Calcium: 7.85 mg
Potassium: 26.9 mg
Magnesium: 26.9 mg
A quick look at the nutrient breakdown of almond butter shows that peanut butter has much less calcium and potassium than almond butter, but it has a fat content comparable to 4 grams. of monounsaturated fatty acids and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Unfortunately, peanut butter is a bit higher in saturated fat at 1.65 grams per tablespoon.
Last, but not least, is cashew butter. This nut offers a buttery, salty and almost sweet taste that pairs well with a variety of recipes where you would use both almond butter and peanut butter.
When you buy cashew butter, you might notice that the price is high compared to the other two nut butters. This is because cashews are grown in a poisonous shell that we cannot eat, so the processing takes much longer. Not to mention that they can only be harvested once a year.
What is cashew butter made of?
Again, all it takes is a simple mix from a food processor and you end up with cashew butter. It only requires the solo ingredient, but many companies can include salt, sugar, and oil additives. Avoid opting for a “honey” or “cinnamon” cashew butter and instead look for a short, sweet ingredient list.
Nutritional information on cashew butter
According to the USDA, 1 tbsp (16 grams) of unsalted cashew butter contains:
Calories: 93.9 kcal
Protein: 2.82 grams
Calcium: 6.88 mg
Potassium: 87.4 mg
Magnesium: 41.3 mg
Cashew butter is also comparable to peanut and almond butter when it comes to breaking down fat. It contains slightly more monounsaturated fatty acids at almost 5 grams but has less polyunsaturated fatty acids at just over 1 gram. It relates more to peanut butter when it comes to saturated fat, containing 1.56 grams per tbsp. Of the 3 options, it has the lowest amount of protein (but not by much!).
Conclusion: what is the healthiest butter?
All of these nut butter options bring various benefits to the table. If you’re looking for extra nutrients and healthy fats, try almond or cashew butter. If you’d rather choose a more sustainable food, peanut butter is the best for the planet. Just make sure to cut out options that have unnecessary filler ingredients, and be aware that every nut butter has a calorie intake.
Wondering what are the best brands of vegan butter? We have what you need! Read our page on the 5 best vegan butters and find the right one for you today.