The ever-increasing awareness of the many benefits of consuming healthy fats has seen a massive increase in the purchase of nut butter. That’s a good thing – nut butter contains not only healthy fats but also proteins, fiber, copper, magnesium, chromium, manganese, zinc, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and phytochemicals.
But not all nut butter are equal. In this article, we discover the key criteria that you need to be aware of when looking for the best nut butter.
What Shouldn’t Be in Your Nut Butter
Trans fats are used by food manufacturers to enhance the flavor and texture of the product while also prolonging the shelf life. They have, however, been shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while at the same time reducing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Trans fats may be listed on the nutrition label as ‘partially hydrogenated oils’. If you see this on your nut butter label, then put it back on the shelf.
Hydrogenated fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil should also be avoided.
You need to keep a close watch on sugars that are added to the nut butter. Ideally there should be none. But you might want to set a rule of thumb to limit added sugars to 2 grams per two tablespoons of nut butter. Here are the sugars to be on the lookout for:
- Corn syrup solids
- Brown sugar
- Cane syrup
- Brown rice
- Unrefined cane sugar
Sodium is one of those ingredients that can easily creep up on you. To avoid this, limit the allowable sodium content in your nut butter product to 100 mg per serving.
What Should Be in Your Nut Butter
The best nut butter will have the lowest number of ingredients. Really, there should be only one ingredient – the nut, along with a small amount of sodium and, possibly, an equally small quantity of oil in order to enhance spreadability.
What Do You Want from Your Nut Butter?
Not long ago, if you wanted to eat nut butter, you were going to be getting a peanut butter product. Nowadays, however, you have far more choice. So, in answering the question of which is the best nut butter, you need to consider which is the best type of nut butter to meet your purpose.
If you are primarily interested in getting a high protein content, then peanut butter is your best choice, followed by almond butter. If the fiber is your main concern, then almonds should be your nut of choice. And if you are primarily after a nut butter that is high in such micronutrients as selenium, folate, magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, then you should opt to sunflower seed butter.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the healthiest nut butter isn’t rocket science, but you do need to keep to a standard. If it contains anything more than the actual nut, a small amount of salt and oil then it doesn’t deserve to be in your body!
Learn More About Other Healthy Ingredients in Our Nut Butters or Read Our Ultimate Guide to Nuts.