Is cashew nut spread healthier than peanut butter? And what about tahini? HFG dietitian Melissa Meier looks at five reasons to add nut and seed butters to your menu and what to look for when you’re buying them.
It doesn’t have to be just smooth or crunchy peanut butter any more. A whole new generation of nut and seed butters is chasing your dollar — cashew, Brazil nut, sesame seed spreads and others. Even hemp seeds have come to the party, so to speak.
But are the newbies better for you? And should you ditch the old faithfuls? Time to find out!
5 reasons to love nut and seed butters
1 Nut butters are good for your heart
A wealth of research shows that regularly eating nuts supports heart health. Their healthy fats help reduce the risk of heart disease and can lower your level of harmful LDL cholesterol.
2 Spread on nut butter for your brain
Evidence links frequent consumption of nuts to reduced risk of depression and improved cognitive function. They may also delay age-related brain decline.
3 Nut butters for weight management
While nuts contain their share of calories/kilojoules, they are not associated with weight gain. Their fibre fills you up, so eating them regularly means you’re more likely to weigh less.
4 Disease-fighting power of nuts
People who often eat nuts have a reduced risk of developing cancer and type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes already, eating nuts can help you manage the condition.
5 Nut and seed butters are nutrient-dense
Nuts and seeds are nutrition superstars, full of heart-healthy fats, protein to fight hunger, and fibre for a happy gut. They provide zinc to support your immune system, as well as iron and magnesium.
Here’s our verdict on which nut butters are healthiest
Smooth, crunchy and natural options are all made from ground peanuts — but there’s a lot of variability between brands. Check the label and choose a ‘natural’ product made from 100 per cent peanuts.
Revamped peanut butters
These products add healthy ingredients such as hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacao. They often contain more hunger-busting protein and fibre than your standard PB, so they get our tick of approval.
Tree nut spreads
Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts are just as nutritious as natural peanut butter, plus they add a variety of extra nutrients to your diet.
These spreads can contain as little as 10 per cent hazelnuts. The rest is made up of oils, sugar and cocoa powder, which gives them that distinctive chocolate taste. So, keep them as occasional treats!
This popular seed spread is made from ground sesame seeds. As with nuts, sesame seeds provide healthy fats, protein and fibre, plus a small amount of calcium for strong bones and teeth.