Creamy. Chunky. Slightly salty. Mmm! Who doesn’t love a good nut butter? And if you have a peanut allergy, it’s not a problem anymore because you’ve got so many nuts and seeds to choose from! There’s almond, sunflower seed, hazelnut, macadamia nut, cashew, sesame seed, pecan…pretty much any nut or seed you can think of, it can be ground into a smooth butter for you to make a modified PB & J or eat it plain by the spoonful straight out of the jar!
I am such a huge fan of nut butter as they provide a great source of healthy fats and plant based protein. But which nut butters are better? Is there a difference and what are the overall health benefits they provide besides the two I just mentioned (healthy fat and protein, if you forgot already)? Nuts and seeds are known as polyunsaturated fats (or sometimes called PUFAs), and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Dietary intake of PUFAs have been shown to decrease the risk of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It’s also important to note that we need a healthy balance of omega 6s to omega-3s in our diet for optimal health. In our Western diet, Americans tend to consume an overabundance of omega-6 oils in their diet due to processed foods.
Processed foods as we all should know by now are foods that are meant to stay on a grocery store shelf until eternity. They contain preservatives, added colors, flavors and chemicals to make them appear fresh as the day they were made. These additives are no good for your health and actually create an alarm response in the body, contributing to inflammation. These foods are in fact “false foods” and not truly food at all, unless you consider all the above additives to be food you like to feast on. I for one, do not. I like to follow Michael Pollan’s rule of thumb and “eat only foods that will eventually rot”.
You’ll notice with natural or raw nut butters, there should only be one or two ingredients. These should be the NUT and maybe SALT or SUGAR.
Let’s take a look at one of the “not-so-natural” peanut butter brand’s ingredient list. Tell me if you can spot what’s wrong with this picture.
Ingredients: MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTS AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT.
If you guessed “fully hydrogenated vegetable oils”, BINGO! Those are also known as TRANS FAT! Trans fats are the bad fats we are not supposed to consume because they increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and clog our arteries!
True, some of the brands that use these ingredients have shifted and started to come out with more natural products, but I say, why give your hard earned money to the guys that still put crap on our shelves? Why not support local or smaller companies that need our business more so they can continue to make a great product for us?
Which brands are best is going to be up to you and up to your taste buds. Just follow the guidelines of reading ingredients.
Some of my favorite nut butters are:
Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter
MaraNatha No Stir Creamy Almond Butter
Once Again Organic Sunflower Seed Butter
PocketFuel Naturals (I love the Chocolate Haze, Vanilla Haze, and the Crunchy Banana Blueberry!)
Now, raw is best, if you can afford it because the nuts have not been heated, thus keeping all those nutritive natural oils in tact. The issue is, raw nut butters are pretty flippin’ expensive! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $21 to spend on a jar of nut butter. You *can* however, experiment with making your own!
Here is an amazingly simple recipe for Raw Almond Butter:
2 cups raw almonds
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. raw honey (optional)
Place almonds in food processor. Process for about 10-12 minutes. You will need to scrape down the sides when it starts to stick. Add in sea salt and/or honey after you’re done processing the almonds and stir by hand.
Remember, healthy fat is good for us! Contrary to popular belief, healthy fats can actually help control our weight! They also help with fatigue and mood! Don’t ditch the fat, just consume the right kind!
For more help figuring out a nutrition plan that works for you and your personal needs and lifestyle, contact me! I will happily create a personalized nutrition plan that WORKS and is sustainable! We’ll have you reaching your health related goals faster than you can say PB & almond butter!
I look forward to helping you!