Nut and seed butters can be a wonderful and filling snack. They are also a fairly good source of protein for vegans. Nut butters can be an easy and convenient way to get healthy fats, protein, and other important nutrients in our diet. But remember, not all nut butters are created equal.
Raw vs. roasted?
You may have noticed that raw nut butter can be double the price of nut butters made with roasted nuts or legumes. Does that mean that raw is better?
Nutritionally-speaking, there’s very little difference between roasted and raw nuts. Take almonds for example: almonds that are dry roasted tend to be slightly lower in calories by weight, but that is because of the moisture lost during the roasting process. Almonds roasted in oil tend to be slightly higher in fat and calories, mainly due to the oil they’re roasted in.
It comes down to personal preference regarding the taste and texture of the butter. If you love the taste and texture of raw nut butters, and you’re willing to pay more for them, go for it! In general, I believe the less processed the better, so we usually buy raw nut butters. But both are okay!
The Less Ingredients, the Better
Aim to look for nut butters where nuts are the only ingredient.
The only other acceptable ingredient is sea salt. Salt is an essential mineral that supports our bodies in many ways, but not all salt is the same. It’s sometimes hard to know the quality of salt that is used in various nut butters.
Avoid all processed butters with added ingredients. There should be no added sugar of any kind. Also look out for added oils, such as palm oil or soybean oil. These oils are often “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” and are a source of trans fats.
Do we have to buy organic?
When shopping for nut butters, always look for organic, as this is your best chance to ensure the lowest amount of glyphosate which is the active ingredient in RoundUP. Be extra careful with almonds. The EPA says 89% of almond crops are treated with glyphosate. For this reason alone, you should ALWAYS buy organic almond butter and it is a best practice to look for organic nut butters outside of almond as well.
*Fun fact: Many grocery stores have in-store grinders where you can grind your own nut butters. They also sometimes have containers of nut butter they’ve already freshly ground in the store!
Make Your Own Nut Butter
Making your nut butter at home is easy and often cheaper than buying it in a store. The key is to invest in a high-quality food processor or blender that has the power to crush and pulverize nuts. The steps are simple: roast the nuts in the oven or don’t if you prefer raw nut butter, place them in the blender or food processor, and process until smooth!
Our 7 Favorite Nut and Seed Butters
1. Almond Butter
Almond butter is high in monounsaturated fat and provides energy and satiety (feeling of fullness) throughout the day.
Almond butter has more vitamin E than many other nut butters (26% of the recommended daily amount). Vitamin E is an antioxidant that could help prevent diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. Vitamin E can help boost your immune system. Almond butter also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which play a vital role in your brain and eye health.
Almond butter contains calcium, important for the health of your bones, as well as magnesium. Almond butter also has antioxidant compounds that could help lower your risk of developing diabetes.
Almond butter also has more fiber, fewer carbohydrates, and slightly more calories than peanut butter. Almond butter has more minerals than peanut butter, with the exception of selenium.
Be careful to always buy organic as almonds are heavily sprayed with glyphosate.
2. Pecan Butter
Pecan butter contains close to 20 different vitamins and minerals as well as lots of fiber. Some important vitamins include: A, B, and E and some important minerals include: magnesium, zinc and potassium. It is also a rich source of manganese, which is vital for nerve conduction and brain function.
Although not as bioavailable as fatty fish, pecan butter contains omega 3 and 6, as well as lots of monounsaturated fats!
Some studies have shown that pecan oil is very beneficial to reducing the risk of heart disease. That’s because 70% (by weight) of the pecan kernel is made up of oil.
Remember to buy organic.
3. Coconut Butter
Even though coconuts are technically fruits and not nuts, we wanted to add coconut butter to our list since it’s often used in the same way as nut butters!
High in saturated fat, coconut butter contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and lauric acid, which may provide some fat-burning and heart-protective benefits. (Remember, saturated fat is not bad for you, contrary to main-stream science, as long as it comes from a healthy source.)
Coconut butter, also referred to as coconut manna, is sometimes called “the peanut butter of the tropics.” It’s made by pureeing coconut meat, which includes the oil. The spread is solid at room temperature and softens when heated. The spread has a strong coconut flavor and odor. It’s great for baking or adding to smoothies. You can also use it to make raw desserts such as these raw chocolate coconut butter bites.
Because it is largely made up of coconut meat, coconut butter will also provide a significant amount of dietary fiber. It has more fiber than peanut butter or almond butter. It is higher in fat and lower in protein than almond, sunflower, and peanut butters.
Buy organic and unrefined.
4. Sun Butter
Sun butter, also known as sunflower seed butter, is a creamy, nutritious spread made from ground up sunflower seeds. Its health benefits and mild flavor make it a perfect match for a variety of recipes, and it’s a fantastic substitute for people with tree nut or peanut allergies.
A single tablespoon of sunflower butter has about 3 grams of protein, which makes it an ideal pick-me-up for athletes. Sunflower butter is packed with magnesium and fiber, which is an ideal match for people with blood sugar concerns. Magnesium helps increase insulin sensitivity while fiber helps regulate the absorption of blood sugar.
One of the best-known benefits of sunflower butter is its ability to lower cholesterol and fight inflammation.
5. Walnut Butter
Walnuts are known for their antioxidants, so walnut butter is a super nut butter. It contains a good amount of plant-based omega 3, antioxidants, and vitamins. It is good for people with inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
There are several studies that support walnuts and their benefits for brain health, including memory, anxiety, mood and even faster processing speed.
Remember to buy organic. Also, be mindful and pay attention to your body. My body doesn’t tolerate walnuts and so I can’t eat walnuts. My husband and kids however, love it!
- High in antioxidants
- Good source of plant omega 3
- Supports gut microbiome
- Heart healthy
Tahini is a paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds. It has a light, nutty flavor and is full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals!
Tahini is a great source of phosphorus and manganese, both of which play vital roles in bone health. It’s also high in thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin B6, which are important for energy production. Additionally, tahini contains antioxidants called lignans, which help prevent free radical damage in your body and may reduce your risk of disease.
7. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fat, providing energy and satiety.
In terms of the nutritional profile, peanut butter provides a good amount of protein, along with essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Peanuts and peanut butter contain nutrients that may boost a person’s heart health and improve blood sugar levels. It also provides almost 14% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 plays a role in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body and may be necessary for heart and immune system health.
- Heart and immune health
- High in protein
- B vitamins (biotin)
Nut and seed butters are an easy way to boost your kids’ healthy fat intakes. They’re great for the gut microbiome and come with a plethora of nutritional benefits. Best of all, they’re so easy!
But remember that not all nut butters are equal. When in doubt, look at the ingredients list. All nut butters should be organic and have only one or two ingredients. Always avoid all nut butters with added sugars or seed oils.