Which Nut Butter Is Healthier for You?

peanut butter and peanut shells
Gabriel Bucataru/Stocksy United

Peanut butter has been around for ages. Maybe you grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after school. Or perhaps peanut butter cookies or Ants On a Log were your thing.

Of course, peanut butter is still very popular today, but the past decade or so has brought some competition from other products, such as cashew and almond butter. Probably because we know that nuts are good for your heart health.

 But are the newer and more expensive nut butters any better for you than peanut butter?

Maybe a little bit, but not a lot.

Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and monounsaturated fatty acids, and it has some magnesium, potassium, selenium and a few B vitamins. One tablespoon of peanut butter has 94 calories, 4 grams protein, and 8 grams of total fat.

Almond butter has a bit more total fat than peanut butter, but that includes more monounsaturated fat and about half the amount of saturated fat. Almond butter also has more fiber, and fewer carbohydrates, so it has about the same number of calories as peanut butter.

Almond butter has more minerals than peanut butter, with the exception of selenium. Peanut butter contains more B vitamins. 

Cashew butter also has the same number of calories and fat as peanut butter, but less protein and more carbs. Cashew butter has more iron and magnesium than peanut butter.

Cashew butter also has a bit more monounsaturated fat.

Peanut, cashew, and almond butter all contain phytosterols, which are the plant versions of animal cholesterol, but unlike cholesterol, phytosterols may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels in humans. 

The bottom line is they're all good sources of protein, minerals, and healthy fats.

You may need to be a little careful when you buy peanut butter because some brands contain added sugars that you don't need. You can spend the extra money for cashew and nut butter if you prefer the flavor, but you're not really getting added nutritional value for something that costs two or three times as much. 

Please note: People who have peanut allergies are at a higher risk for tree nut allergies, so almond butter or cashew may not be suitable substitutes. Speak with your healthcare provider if you or any of your family members have peanut or nut allergies.

Sources:

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. "Peanut butter, smooth style, with salt." Accessed March 2, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4811.

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. "Almond butter, smooth style, with salt." Accessed March 2, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3768.

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. "Cashew butter, smooth style, with salt." Accessed March 2, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3758.

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