Peanut butter has been a lunch time staple for children and adults for years. Until recently there was not much competition on the nut butter front. But in 2012, almonds officially surpassed peanuts as America’s favorite nut, and almond butter began to give peanut butter a run for it’s money. Almond butter is marketed as being the more health conscious choice, but is it? And what about that beloved hazelnut spread, known as Nutella. Is Nutella a healthy addition to your whole grain toast as the commercial suggests? With the nut butter section jam-packed with options, it’s hard to make the right choice. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Almond butter and peanut butter are very similar in terms of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) and calories. They both have approximately 190 calories for a two tablespoon serving. Making them both a high calorie, but nutrient dense food. Peanut butter has a slight nutritional edge over almond butter in terms of protein, with eight grams of protein per serving versus seven. When it comes to fat, almond butter has the advantage because it is slightly lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fat (the good kind).
The real difference in these two nut butters is in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Almond butter is an excellent source of vitamin E. One serving of almond butter has four milligrams (mg) of vitamin E, compared to only one mg in peanut butter. Vitamin E helps promote a healthy immune system and acts as an antioxidant which protects against cellular damage. Almond butter is also higher in magnesium and calcium which are important for bone health. However, this does not mean that peanut butter is a nutritional loser. Peanut butter has higher levels of some B vitamins, including niacin, folate, and B6. B vitamins are important cofactors in metabolism and help our body create energy.
Sorry Nutella lovers, but when it comes to nutrition, Nutella can not compete. Nutella should really be sold with the pudding or ice cream, because it is more of a “dessert food” than anything else. Just take a look at the ingredients. First ingredient sugar, second ingredient palm oil. Hazelnut spread you say? More like a sugary fatty spread with a hint of hazelnut and cocoa. No doubt, Nutella is delicious, but it is not in the same realm as actual nut butters.
When buying your nut butter some quick things to look for:
- Nuts should always be the first ingredient
- Little to no added sugar
- No hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats
- The shorter the ingredient list the better
If I had to choose a nutritional winner, I would give it to almond butter. Although peanut butter is a close second. If you’ve never tried almond butter before it’s definitely worth a go. Here are some delicious recipes to try using almond butter: Almond Joy Cups, homemade almond butter, and pineapple macadamia granola bars. Although I admit, I do love peanut butter and it is often times half the price of almond butter. Yesterday I made this peanut butter and banana grilled sandwich and it was to die for.
The final score card on nut butters:
Almond Butter : A+
Peanut Butter: A
Nutella (hazelnut spread): D
What is your favorite way to eat nut butter? On a sandwich, from the jar, in a smoothie?