Beyond just the taste difference, do you ever wonder what the nutritional difference is between peanut butter and almond butter? We’ll break it down for you, plus share some tips on how to choose top quality nut butters!
For most of us, Peanut Butter is the type of nut butter we grew up with since it’s the most popular nut butter in North America! Here’s a fun fact... did you know that peanuts are actually a legume? (For me, this was like learning that tomatoes are actually a fruit). Whether we know it’s a legume or think it’s a nut, for many people, peanuts are the most highly allergic foods they can consume, even causing a life threatening anaphylaxis reaction. So while, it’s the most common nut butter, it’s also becoming one of the most avoided!
Peanuts are about 20% protein, and about 75% fat. They are rich in nutrients, containing 20% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin E (a fat-soluble vitamin that is also an antioxidant and is a wonderful vitamin for hair, skin and nails), and are very high in B vitamins (which are water-soluble energizing vitamins). Peanuts are also packed with essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Peanut butter is quite nutritious, however, there are a few cautionary tips with peanut butter. First, you should always choose a natural peanut butter. This means the ingredient list will only contain peanuts. Conventional peanut butter, the kind that I’m sure most of us grew up with, was super creamy... and this is because of all the extra additives. The worst culprit is hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils are one of the worst food additives we can consume. It displaces essentially fatty acids in our brain, causes havoc in our arteries with free radicals, and offers no nutritional benefits. In my opinion if you ever read: hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and modified oils on the ingredient list, throw it out. You can read more about ingredient lists here. The second tip with natural peanut butter is to remember to refrigerate it! Natural peanut butter will have natural separation; this is completely normal. Just turn the jar upside down when you get it, and mix it up when you’re ready to open it, and store it in the fridge. Since peanuts are actually legumes, they are quite susceptible to molds. This is one of the main reasons why many people (who aren’t very allergic to peanuts) avoid peanut butter. If your digestive system is weakened, adding molds to the mix can make digestive symptoms worse. If you feel like you may be prone to digestive upset, try avoiding peanut butter and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. You can also opt for Valencia peanut butter, which is less susceptible to mold and aflatoxin. The third tip is to try to opt for organic, raw or lightly roasted peanut butter. Lightly roasted eases digestibility. Also, avoid peanut butter with added salt. Peanuts are salty enough, especially when roasted, so the extra salt isn’t needed.
Almond Butter is increasingly gaining popularity and with good reason, it is quite nutritious! Similar to peanut butter, it’s high in fat and protein, but contains less protein than peanut butter. Almond butter contains 40% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin E and also includes omega-6 essential fatty acid (linoleic acid). Unlike peanut butter, almond butter has some fiber, which is always a bonus! Almond butter is very high in magnesium, which is a mineral that many of us can be deficient in. Magnesium can help with muscle function and sleep quality. Almonds are also quite high in others minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
When choosing almond butter, try to opt for raw almond butter because omega-6 oils are sensitive to heat so roasted almond butter may not have the full ‘health’ of it’s oil. However, that doesn’t mean that roasted almond butter is unhealthy. You may have noticed a big spike in almond butter price lately, and this is unfortunately due to the drought in California since majority of almonds come from California.
Did you know you could make homemade almond butter? It’s quite simple! Just add almonds to a food processor and process until smooth! It’s ideal to soak almonds overnight prior to making almond butter (or eating them) to improve digestibility and nutrient content. You can also make your own homemade almond milk! Check out the recipe from Oh She Glows here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/01/24/my-favourite-homemade-almond-milk-step-by-step-photos/
It’s hard to decide which is better, almond butter or peanut butter, because with good quality nut butters, they both offer great health benefits! Really it’s up to you and your preference. Keep in mind that there are other types of nut butters you can try, such as hazelnut butter and cashew butter, and don't forget about seed butters such as sunflower seed butter and pumpkin seed butter. Why not try them all! Mixing up your nut or seed butter choice can help to provide you with a variety of nutrients, which is important for health. Have fun enjoying nut butters on toast, in granola bars, in smoothies, in energy balls and more. It’s fun to add nut and seed butters your favorite recipes for some extra protein and healthy fat. Check out our energy ball recipe here, and our chocolate smoothie recipe here for some inspiration.