6 Types of Nut Butter – Which One Is Right For You?

6 Types of Nut Butter - Which One Is Right For You

With the growing popularity and many options, you may feel a little lost amongst a sea of nut butter. From peanut butter and almond butter to cashew butter and soy nut butter, many people have no idea where to start!

In this article, I’ll break down 6 different types of nut butter so you can determine the best options for you.

1) Peanut butter

Let’s start with our most popular nut butter – peanut butter! It’s inexpensive, accessible, and flavorful. It has versatile uses for cooking, sandwiches, and snacking, and it comes in a variety of styles: creamy, crunchy, salted, unsalted, honey, chocolate, and maple.

Peanut allergies are becoming increasingly more common, which has led consumers to try other spreads that may have a comparable flavor and texture.

What to look for when purchasing peanut butter

Peanut butter contains about seven grams of unsaturated (healthier for your heart) fat per two-tablespoons. Peanut butter is not a significant source of omega-3’s unless it has added flaxseed. It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins like biotin and niacin.

Peanut butter commonly contains emulsifiers, which are additives that prevent the oil from separating in the packaging. Some of these emulsifiers may be labeled as mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, hydrogenated vegetable oil, molasses, and even powdered sugar. This may slightly change the nutritional profile of the peanut butter, and it is definitely something to take into consideration when choosing the type of nut butter to purchase.

I always counsel people to read the label and look for peanut butter that contains two ingredients: peanuts and salt. The downside of this is that it requires stirring and generally should be kept in the refrigerator.

My favorite peanut butter: Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter

2) Cashew butter

Cashew butter is becoming increasingly more popular. It is also very flavorful and creamy. Cashews are a tree nut, so it is not suitable for those who have a tree nut allergy.

What to look for when purchasing cashew butter

Cashew butter has a similar calorie content to peanut butter, but less protein. It contains slightly more fat than peanut butter, but with a higher concentration of monounsaturated fat. And like the others, cashew butter contains very little omega-3’s.

Cashew butter is priced higher than peanut, almond, or sunflower butter. I have seen it used in more recipes recently for its creamy texture and flavor!

My favorite cashew butter: Trader Joes Creamy Salted Cashew Butter

3) Almond butter

Almond butter is seemingly the second most common nut butter available. . It is not quite as smooth or flavorful as peanut butter, but makes a great addition to a recipe or spread, and can be an alternative for someone who is allergic to peanuts, but not tree nuts.

Unlike peanuts, tree nuts grow on trees (hence the name) and include but are not limited to: almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, and pecans.

What to look for when purchasing almond butter

Almond butter also contains a variety of fat sources, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. It has about 20% more monounsaturated fat and approximately twice as much fiber as peanut butter, but overall the nutritional profile is similar.

Almond butter is not a significant source of omega-3’s. It tends to sell for higher prices than peanut butter, so don’t give in to any claims that it would provide significantly better nutrition!

My favorite almond butter: Kirkland Signature Creamy Almond Butter

4) Walnut butter

Walnut butter is less common but does have a different nutritional profile than some of the more frequently used nut butter.

What to look for when purchasing walnut butter

Walnut butter has a similar calorie content to peanut butter but has lower protein and higher fat. However, walnut butter contains ALA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to your heart health. The taste and texture are unique, but it may serve as a treat with heart health benefits from time to time!

My favorite walnut butter: Vör All Natural Walnut Butter

5) Sunflower seed butter

I tried sunflower seed butter in order to write this article and thought it was delicious! It is creamy and has a distinct flavor. This serves as an excellent alternative for those who have a peanut AND tree nut allergy.

What to look for when purchasing sunflower seed butter

Sunflower seed butter is slightly lower in protein than peanut butter, but is similar in calorie content and also contains mostly monounsaturated fat.

I did notice that several companies that produce sunflower seed butter include a “sweetened” option with added sugar as well as an unsweetened option. Like peanut butter and almond butter, sunflower seed butter is not a good source of omega-3’s.

My favorite sunflower seed butter: Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter

6) Soy nut butter

Soy nut butter, in my opinion, is a superior choice for those with peanut or tree nut allergies as it offers a similar texture and flavor to peanut butter, as well as nutrition content.

Another benefit is that soy nut butter can be substituted for peanut butter in recipes as a great option for nut-free baking. I had a hard time finding an option without added sugar or sweetener, but otherwise, the nutrition profile is impressive.

What to look for when purchasing soy nut butter

Soy nut butter has comparable calories and protein per serving as peanut butter, and higher fiber content. It also contains omega-3’s in the form of ALA. It is slightly more expensive than peanut butter but overall reasonably priced.

I would recommend soy nut butter for those who have peanut or tree nut allergies, or would like to change up their spread on occasion for a heart-healthy alternative!

My favorite soy nut butter: WOWBUTTER

Final thoughts on nut butter

Nut butters are easy and flavorful, great for on-the-go, and a nutritious source of energy. It may seem overwhelming to try to choose just one, so I would recommend finding your favorite to keep on-hand, and switching it up from time to time!

What’s your favorite nut butter and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Meredith Byrne is a clinical dietitian at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. Her focus is on cardiac, maternal, and oncology medical nutrition therapy, as well as disease-preventative nutrition. Meredith graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in dietetics in 2006. She also completed her dietetic internship at Virginia Tech. Outside of work, she is an avid runner, backpacker, and loves international travel. Meredith lived overseas in eastern Asia for a year before moving to Charlotte in 2008 and had the opportunity to spend several weeks in Burkina Faso to help diagnose and treat pediatric malnutrition in 2013. She has completed six marathons including Boston and NYC. Meredith is passionate about helping others adapt their lifestyle to improve their health and knowledge of nutrition.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve recently started intuitive eating and it’s LITERALLY the best decision I ever made for my physical AND mental health! Food no longer controls me and I can truly enjoy all kinds of nut butters now. I am obsessed with nuts, butters, and all concoctions that contain them. 🙂

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