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Which nut butter is healthiest?

Jars of nut butters

Whether you’re a peanut butter fan or enjoy the array of other nut and seed butters on sale, HFG helps you choose the healthiest option for you.

Once upon a time, there were only two nut butter options on offer: smooth or crunchy peanut butter. These days, there’s a whole forest of tree nuts and seed varieties to choose from. But are the newer, trendier options better for you? Or does traditional peanut butter triumph in the nutrition stakes? We reveal the facts.

What’s in a jar?

Here’s a fun fact for your next game of trivia: peanuts are not technically nuts. They’re part of the legume family. Nonetheless, they’re nutritionally similar to tree nuts, so often lumped in the same category as almonds, cashews, macadamias and so on. All nuts and seeds, including peanuts, have:

  • Good-for-you unsaturated fats, which are the preferred fats for ensuring a healthy ticker.
  • Hunger-busting fibre, which fills you up and supports a healthy digestive system.
  • Plant-based protein, which builds and maintains muscle, plus keeps you feeling full for longer.
  • What’s more, the science reveals that regular daily consumption of nuts is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Eating nuts can even help you maintain a healthy weight.

In a nutshell

Familiarise yourself with the pros and cons from the following nut butter options now available:

Peanut butter (PB) is made from ground peanuts. As well as smooth or crunchy, there are three further sub-types:

  • Traditional PB, which is among the lower peanut content percentile. It can also have added sugar, salt and oil.
  • Natural PB, which is among the highest peanut content percentile. It has no added sugars or oils, but may contain added salt. Natural, no-added-salt PB is a healthier choice than traditional PB.
  • Boosted PB, which is natural PB with seeds like hemp, chia or sesame. Boosted PB varieties tend to contain more protein and fibre than standard PB, so are a very good choice to make.

Tree nut butters are often made from ground cashews, almonds or Brazil nuts, or all three. They are usually made in a similar way to natural PB and can be a very healthy addition to your nut butter rotation.

Chocolate-flavoured nut spreads often contain a very low percentage of nuts. They are flavoured with cocoa powder and are usually made with oil and added sugar. Think of them as a special occasion sweet treat.

Seed butters are made from ground seeds. Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, is the most popular in this category, but new varieties like pumpkin seed butter are appearing on supermarket shelves. Just like natural nut butters, natural seed butters are a wise choice, as they are packed with heart-healthy fats and gut-friendly fibre.

Here’s what to look for on the label:

  • Made with 100 per cent nuts and/or seeds
  • No added sugars or oils
  • Less than 400mg sodium per 100g.

Date modified: 3 May 2022
First published: May 2022


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