Nut Butter Standoff: A Nutritional Comparison of Various Nut Butters
Hi. My name is Natalie Kelley and I'm a nut butter addict... And I'm 100% (make that 1000000%) okay with that.
It's true. I love love LOVE my nut butters (and seed butters!). Nut butter on rice cakes and toast. Nut butter in cereal. Nut butter on (and in) oatmeal. Nut butter on (and in) smoothies. Nut butter on homemade muffins. Nut butter on fruit. Nut butter on carrots (don't judge me until you've tried it). Nut butter by the spoonful. ;) Seriously. You name it. If it has nut butter incorporated I'll probably love it (seriously ask any of my friends... they all know how much I love nut butter. My roommate and I even dressed up as jars of peanut butter for halloween last year LOL no joke).
Thank goodness you can pretty much find a delicious spread made out of any nut or seed these days, because although I eat a lot of nut/seed butter, I try to switch up what kinds so that I am still getting diverse nutrients.
As an avid runner and lifter, I find that my body needs a lot of extra fats. Nut/seed butters are one of my favorite ways to give it the healthy fats it needs (avocados take second place... Wait... nut butter ON an avocado?! I think I'm onto something ;) ).
Out of all of the nut/seed butters I've tried (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter), peanut butter still has my heart. Almond butter comes in close second (on some days it's first... but like how can anything really compete with peanut butter). I have some pumpkin seed butter in the cupboard ready to be try soon (I'll keep you updated!) and I'm hoping to try pecan and walnut butter next. YAY FOR SO MANY KINDS OF NUT BUTTERS.
So how do all of these different nut and seed butters compare? Well nut butters #1 fan is here to tell satisfy your curiosity. I'll start off by comparing them based on some typical nutritional informations (calories, protein, fats, carbs and fiber).
In one serving (2 Tbsp): (note: the brand you buy may change these numbers slightly. I am basing these off of the general natural or fresh ground brands because those are what I buy :) My #1 tip when buy nut/seed butter is check how much added sugar is in it. Many companies add a lot without you realizing! )
Pumpkin seed butter
Sunflower seed butter
They all seem pretty similar when you look at these standard numbers, right? So what really makes them any different? Different nuts and seeds provides your body with different vitamins and minerals. I'm quickly going to show you how they stack up in this way to help you better choose what nut butter your body needs. :)
Peanut butter: High in selenium which helps with enzyme function. It also provides your body with omega-3 fatty acids.
Almond butter: High in Vitamin E, iron and magnesium. Almond butter also provides your body with omega-3 fatty acids. YAY.
Cashew butter: While it doesn't contain any omega-3 fatty acids, it is full of copper, magnesium and phosphorus.
Pumpkin seed butter: 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin seed butter provides you with 12% of your daily calcium needs. It also contains high levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper and zinc. It may be a strange green color, but it sure packs a HUGE punch of nutrition.
Pecan butter: Pecans are kind of like their own little multi-vitamin, full of Vitamin E, A, and B, as well as potassium and magnesium.
Walnut butter: Walnuts are high in Vitamin E and antioxidants. They're a little low on the protein side compared to other nut/seed butters, so if you're eating nut butters as a protein source, make sure to pair this with something else that's protein dense, like natural protein powder (I love Vega or SunWarrior), yogurt (lactose free Green Valley Organics is my go-to), etc.
Sunflower seed butter: Similar to almond butter, sunflower butter is full of Vitamin E, iron, magnesium, but also zinc.
Fats have such a bad rep, but healthy fats are SO incredibly important in any diet. Getting fats from nut/seed butters, avocados, fish, etc. provides your body with the sustainable energy it needs. If you restrict your body from too many fats, it will simply crave them more, which can then cause you to reach for unhealthy fats, or overeat. Letting yourself eat fats like the ones I listed above WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT, and actually helps your body burn fat and calories more efficiently. :)
I'm sure some of you have seen that I also eat Betty Lou's organic powdered peanut butter, and you may be wondering what that's all about. Powdered peanut butters are made from dried peanuts that are then pressed to essentially take the oils out. You just mix two tablespoons with water and BAM you have peanut butter (sort of). I know a lot of people tend to choose this option because they're attracted to the fact that it contains almost no fats. Personally, I only really like it on my protein oats because they're already so filling that topping it with enough pb for each bite (because obviously I need some in each bite) would push me over the edge. I don't think it's a great way to try to stop your cravings for peanut butter, because without fat those cravings won't go away. SO I think it's good here and there, but not an actual good replacement for real peanut butter. EAT THOSE HEALTHY FATS.
With that being said, go grab your jar of peanut butter (or whichever nut/seed butter you prefer) and stay tuned for a more in-depth post on fats in the next couple of weeks. :)