When choosing a nut butter, the dilemma was once very simple – crunchy or smooth?
These days, however, you’ll find the shelves bursting with choice. From variations on the classic peanut, you can also find almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia butter and more.
How healthy are nut butters?
Nut butters have been touted as a wellness food, with Instagram nutritionists lining up to show off their nutty creations. As with any nutritional trend, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the facts.
Nuts are an energy-dense food which as a result are high in calories. Most of these calories come from the nut’s fat content, which is usually from unsaturated fat.
There are two sub-types of unsaturated fat – polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Most commonly available nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios) are high in monounsaturated fat.
Along with their healthy fats, nut butters also contain fibre, protein, vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium. Different nuts have different nutritional strengths, too. Almonds are high in calcium, pistachios have lots of vitamin B6, peanuts are best for protein whereas Brazil nuts are rich in selenium.
Of course, taking in too many calories, even from healthy fats, results in weight gain if you can’t burn off more calories than you’re eating. This is why, despite their many health-giving properties, you shouldn’t get carried away with portion sizes when it comes to nut butters. Around 30g, or two tablespoons (not heaped!), is about right for one portion.
Are nut butters higher in calories than nuts?
No, although it’s easier to eat more nuts in butter form than it is nuts by themselves. This is because you don’t have to chew each mouthful of nut butter as many times as raw nuts. To address this, try eating your nut butters on a crunchy vegetable stick of celery or carrot, or spread onto apple slices. Some nuts also contain saturated fat, including cashews, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts.
Men shouldn’t exceed 30g of saturated fat a day, and women 20g a day, so be extra mindful of portion size with butters from these nuts.
How many calories in almond butter?
There are around 98 calories in a tbsp of almond butter.
In a nutshell…
Nut butters are very healthy when included in moderation within a balanced diet.
Nut butters make a delicious, filling and nutritious addition to any meal or snack. However – as with most things – moderation is key. Try out these three different ways to use nut butters or our recipe for vegan coconut and almond butter slices.
Last updated: 31 March 2020