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  • Writer's pictureMia Raj

The healthiest nut butters: a ranking

Of all the types of nut butters that exist, chances are you are most familiar with peanut butter. Maybe you grew up eating a PB&J every day for lunch… I know I did! However, there’s a new kid (actually, kids) on the block, and with consumers looking for healthier alternatives, they’re giving peanut butter a run for its money.

Nut butter made from almonds, cashews, walnuts, and several other nuts can be found at most grocery stores, but they can be 10x as expensive as peanut butter. When searching for a healthy peanut butter alternative (allergies aside) is the cost worth it?

Assortment of nut and seed butters with food health scores

Methodology: our study of nut butters in detail

It’s hard to rank nut butter from best to worst, most healthy to least healthy, since they’re all so good for you! I’ve heard it said this way, “ranking nut butters is like ranking veggies”. Each nut butter packs a unique blend of fats, protein, fiber, phytochemicals, and various vitamins and minerals including B, A, and E vitamins, folates, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium—making any of them a great choice.

The specifics may vary depending on the type of nut butter you buy, but you really can’t go wrong. Because of the awesome nutrient content found in nut butter, they can be really beneficial for preventing diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and weight loss.

Although, just like any food, any particular nut butter may be a better option for you, as they cater to your personal nutritional needs and dietary preferences.

Which nut butter is highest in protein?

Peanut butter wins the race for the nut butter with the highest protein. Peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein per serving! That’s the same amount of protein as one cup of milk. Additionally, peanut butter is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, very affordable, and available in some form almost anywhere that sells food.

Which nut butter is highest in omega-3?

Walnut butter, though commonly left unnoticed, is actually the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids of all the nut butters. Omega-3 helps lower LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol - which is our “good” cholesterol. Since omega-3 fats also have anti-inflammatory properties, they can help improve arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Which nut butter is lowest in saturated fat?

Even though almond butter contains the highest amount of total fat, it is the lowest nut butter in saturated fat. It also has the highest amount of unsaturated fat. Almond butter actually has about three grams more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat per serving as compared to peanut butter. This is an example of why it’s important to look at the nutritional label as a whole and the breakdown of the specific fats in food rather than just the total fat value.

Which nut butter is lowest in cholesterol?

One thing that makes nut butters so amazing is that they do not contain any cholesterol! Cholesterol is only found in animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, and not in plant sources like nuts. The Mayo Clinic states that consuming nuts and nut butter will help improve your cholesterol levels, not increase them.

Which nut butter has the least sugar?

As previously mentioned, it’s important to look at the nutrition label on your products. Different brands may add sugar, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives to their nut butter throughout the manufacturing process. The best advice is to look for those with minimal ingredients: just 100% nuts on the ingredient list. If you’re looking specifically for a sweeter nut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth while lowering your sugar intake, try cashew butter. Cashews are a naturally sweeter nut than others, making this an optimal choice.

Are nut butters inflammatory?

Just as the misconception of high fat always meaning high in cholesterol was debunked, high fat doesn’t always mean inflammatory. This relationship is dependent on the type of fat we’re talking about. Saturated fats are linked to inflammation, however, since nuts contain healthy unsaturated fats, they are considered anti-inflammatory. Another reason to be conscious of the ingredients added to your nut butter is that some brands contain high amounts of saturated fat, but this shouldn’t be the case. Pure or natural nut butter will contain zero grams of saturated fats.


Conclusion: a ranking of healthy nut butters

Nut butter typically contains all of the same ingredients with just minor variations of the values. As such, while peanut butter is the highest in protein (8 grams per serving), other nut butters are not far behind. The same goes for their fat, fiber, and micronutrient content. This is where ranking nut butter becomes difficult.

It should really be about personal preference! If you're looking for a bit more protein, opt for your classic peanut butter. If you have a peanut allergy, try almond butter or if you have a tree nut allergy, try sunflower seed butter. Whatever it may be, any nut butter packs tons of nutrients and health benefits that will leave you satisfied, just as long you remember to buy all-natural nut butters!

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