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Choosing the healthiest nut butter

The variety of nut butters available in supermarkets has grown considerably over the last couple of years. Nut butter can be an excellent snack choice. It’s great on oatcakes, in smoothies or on wholegrain toast. However, not all nut butters provide the same health benefits and some should definitely be avoided.

Peanut butter has been popular for years but it has steadily been moving further away from a ‘natural’ product with the addition of salt, palm oil and plenty of sugar. Here’s what you should be looking for when choosing your nut butter.

Does your butter contain hydrogenated oils?

Hydrogenated oils increase the shelf life of a product and acts as an emulsifier. However, they are packed with unhealthy fats, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Does your butter contain added sugar?

Check the list of ingredients on the jar and avoid butters with added sugar. Peanut butters tend to be the worst culprits.

What percentage of nuts does your butter contain?

A quality nut butter will contain ~99% nuts. If they contain less than this, usually heavily processed fats and sugar have been added.

Is almond, cashew or peanut butter best?

There are a few factors to consider when choosing between almond, cashew and peanut butter. Peanut butter tends to contain additional fats and sugars but is an inexpensive source of protein and contains the highest folic acid content.

Almond butters are considered the healthiest and are a source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin E. They also contain more fibre than peanuts and are amongst the lowest in calories and highest in protein and calcium. However, almond butter is one of the more expensive nut butters available.

Cashew butter contains potassium, iron and zinc. It’s rich in monounsaturated fat but contains slightly less protein than almond or peanut butter.

Top nut butters: