The Healthy Fats You Should be Eating Every Day
For years, fats were a taboo among those trying to be health conscious and clean up their diet. There was a long period where food companies came out with "low-fat" and "no-fat" versions of popular foods- especially in the processed snacks category. Ever since fat was demonized, people started eating more sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods instead. Unfortunately, due to this trend, the entire world has become fatter and sicker. This is because "low-fat" for many large companies means a lack of flavor in these items, and thus caused them to heavily increase the amount of sugar and processing that goes into these "healthy low-fat" alternatives.
Thankfully, the rise in popularity of certain "superfoods" like avocados, chia seeds, olive oil, tofu, and fish has allowed us to enjoy fats again as more and more research comes out showing that *healthy* fats are actually something we should be incorporating into our diets more and more. One great way to improve your cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss, curb cravings, and help out your heart is to eat nut butters regularly.
Whether a healthy dip for apple slices, a creamy addition to a post-workout smoothie, or even just by the spoonful, nut butter is a popular addition to many foodie’s diets. And one that has proven to lower the risk of heart disease! But there is one question driving us all, well, nuts (sorry, had to do it): Which type of nut butter should you choose?
All high-quality nut butters, those without added sweeteners or preservatives, have impressive nutrient profiles similar to the nuts from which they are made. On average, two tablespoons of nut butter contains 190 calories and 17 grams of mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. The nutrition panel as well as the convenience of nut butters makes them a pantry-essential for us here at 6AM Health. Here are some common types of nut butters and how they stand out from the rest:
Peanut butter (the OG nut butter) has a creamy, rich, and classic taste along with a smooth texture, once mixed well. As this is one of the most familiar of the nut butters, and it has been around for the longest, it is also typically the cheapest option in the store for nut butters.
Contains the highest amount of protein (8g of protein/serving).
About 80% of its fat is unsaturated (the ‘good’ kind!).
Low carbohydrates and rich in antioxidants.
Rich in biotin, which might help sustain brain health.
Ample amounts of iron and folate (prevents amnesia), potassium (for muscles), magnesium (for bones and to help you sleep), vitamin B6 and zinc (for immune system).
A Few Brands to Try: Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter, Wild Friends Classic Creamy Peanut Butter, Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Butter with Wildflower Honey and Sea Salt
Almond butter is ranked one of the healthiest nut butters with a naturally sweet, mild flavor and a thick, chalky, creamy texture that makes it very easy to spread. While it may be slightly nutritionally superior to peanut butter, it is important to note that it is the more expensive option.
⅔ of almond butter’s fat is in the healthful monounsaturated form (12g per serving). This is 3g more of heart-healthy fats per serving compared to peanut butter.
Contains 7x the amount of calcium and about 50% more magnesium than peanut butter. Has more calcium than any other nut.
Rich in fiber and contains 7g of protein per serving.
Great source of riboflavin and manganese with an impressive amount of vitamin E (helps fight inflammation).
A Few Brands to Try: Barney Butter Bare Almond Butter, Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, Artisana Organic Raw Almond Butter
Cashew butter has raving reviews for its natural sweetness, rich and savory taste, and smooth creamy texture (one of the creamiest nut butters). Its texture has proven to be excellent for vegan recipes. Important to note is that cashew butter is also slightly pricey.
Somewhat lower in fat than other nut butters, but still, 62% of its fat is monounsaturated, making it beneficial for blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Also lower in protein and calcium.
Highest carbohydrate nut (careful with consumption if following keto diet).
2 tablespoons provides 87% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) or copper, a trace mineral that is essential for adequate use of iron in the body.
Good source of phosphorus and magnesium.
Myriad health benefits: helps body relieve constipation, insomnia, headaches & muscle cramps, as well as regulates the immune system and supports brain function.
A Few Brands to Try: Dastony Cashew Butter, Rejuvenative Foods Fresh Raw Cashew Butter, Brad’s Organic Cashew Butter
Sunflower Seed Butter (‘Sun Butter’)
Sunbutter is a great alternative for those with nut allergies, as up to 1.5% of Americans are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Nutritionally, this seed butter is similarly high in unsaturated fats, moderate in protein and low in sugars. It definitely has an acquired taste which has been described by its followers as earthy with a big bold flavor. As for texture, it tends to be a bit thicker than peanut butter, usually blended with sunflower oil to create a smooth, spreadable texture.
Excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, folic acid, and fiber – more so than other nut butters.
Powerful inflammation regulator and beauty-sleep supporter.
High in vitamins E and A, which help produce glowing skin and bright eyes.
Higher in calories than other nut butters.
A Few Brands to Try: SunButter Organic Sunflower Spread, Swanson Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, Once Again Organic Sunflower Butter
Many of us are familiar with the hazelnut + chocolate combination in nutella, but did you know that hazelnut butter exists on its own, providing us with a less dessert-y version of this nut? Hazelnut butter is naturally sweet, rich and nutty with a generally coarse and grainy texture. It is a good choice for those with peanut allergies and those following a keto diet, as they are low in carbohydrates and high in fat.
Rich in oleic acid, a form of monounsaturated fat that may help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Free of natural sugars.
Great source of vitamin E.
High in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Lower in protein and higher in calories than other nut butters.
A Few Brands to Try: Tierra Farms Unsalted Hazelnut Butter, Dastony Hazelnut Butter, Vor Pure Hazelnut Butter
And now, the moment all nut butter lovers across the world have been waiting for… Mixed Nut Butter!!
This mixed nut butter, specifically sold by Trader Joe's (although there are other varieties sold elsewhere), has a unique, “nourishingly nutty” taste coming from the mix of almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans (+ just a bit of sea salt). Many have described the taste as an intensely rich almond butter, and in the best way possible. Smooth and creamy, it has a runny texture, which makes it drizzle-friendly.
Nutritionally, it could be the best of all worlds, as the mixed nuts allow for the unique nutritional benefits of different nuts to show up in the same container, and in the same spoonful of happiness.
One avid fan says it best: “I will stand by Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter Until My Dying Breath.”
In general when buying nut butters, we should be sure to avoid products that are sweetened with evaporated cane sugar, cane sugar, or other sweeteners. A good rule of thumb is to look for brands that contain only the nut itself!
Check out our 6AM Health products that incorporate nut butters, like the Almond Butter & Jelly Sandwich and Peanut Butter Atlas Bar, and let us know what you think! What is your favorite way to incorporate nut butter into your diet?