Almond, Peanut, Cashew... which one to choose?!
Walk down what once was the peanut butter and jelly aisle in your market the next time you're at the store. What do you see? I'd bet $100 that there is at least six different types of nut or seed butters, not including at least two or three different brands for each one, right? Don't worry! I know this can seem overwhelming but I promise to help break it down for you with some simple facts to hopefully make shopping at lot less stressful. Let's take a look first on which butters you can forgo if you are looking for a healthy, nutrient dense, Registered Dietitian-approved butter.
Recent trends in the nut butter segment have tremendously increased with little mom and pop vendors sprouting up all over, bringing their unique twist on the traditional nut butter. For instance, I can name about four different hazelnut spreads infused with white chocolate, maple syrup, cookie dough and my favorite, dark chocolate. I'm sure these are absolutely delicious, however as far as nutrient density goes, they are loaded with added sugars from these special twists which in turn lessens the heart healthy benefits of the butters all together.
Resist the urge to indulge in these varieties and instead focus on using these simple tricks to figure out which natural butter is right for you. Regardless of your choice, be sure to choose brands with the fewest number of ingredients, preferably the nut (or legume!) and a little salt!
Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is hands down the most economical. Though not technically a nut (it's a legume), it is often the go-to for the public. Peanuts are a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats that keep your cardio health in tip-top shape!
Almond Butter: This nut butter is slightly more expensive than others, however is very trendy right now. It is a great source of vitamin E that helps keep your skin looking great! Plus, vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant, which helps rid toxins from your body.
Cashew Butter: Although it is recently becoming more popular, it is again a higher price than peanut or almond. It is rich in magnesium, which has shown to play a crucial role in keeping your heart ticking and bones strong.
Walnut Butter: Usually the highest price nut butter, walnut butter is receiving more attention due to the high content of Omega 3 fatty acids it contains. If you can afford it, it's a great switch up to your traditional routine and tastes amazing on whole grain toast with sliced bananas on top!
There are many other types of butters out there on the market, but these four are the top ones I usually receive questions about. If you have questions on which nut butter not listed here is best for you, be sure to check out nuthealth.org for more information.
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, is a San Diego based dietitian. She is owner of Elizabeth Shaw Consulting Services, in which she offers individual, corporate and food service consulting services. She an adjunct professor in Nutrition at San Diego Mesa Community College and is the Dining Dietitian for the University of California San Diego. Read her blog, Simple-Swaps, and connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.