Your Guide to Nut Butters

NUTRITION TIP THURSDAY

Traditional peanut butter seems to be a staple item in everyone’s pantry.  Today, you can find nut butters made from a variety of your favorite shelled snacks.  Eaten in moderation, these nutritious butters can be good for your bones, heart, and overall health.  The most important thing when choosing a nut butter is to look at the ingredients.  Be cautious of disguised added sugars and hydrogenated oils known as trans-fat.  Here is a breakdown of several nut butters available and how to maximize their nutritional benefits:

For Energy: Peanut Butter—it’s rich in protein and the energizing mineral folate.  Delicious on its own, in smoothies, and on sandwiches; but peanut butter is the best choice in baked goods.  The strong nutty flavor of peanuts can stand up to the sugar and spices used in baking. At the same time, the heart-healthy oils can replace some of the saturated fats of butter and shortening.

For Weight Loss: Almond Butter—it’s high in fiber and lower in calories.  The mild texture and delicate texture makes almond butter ideal for smoothies.  The healthy fats work as an emulsifier and help bind the other ingredients as they come together.

For Heart Health: Walnut Butter—full of omega 3’s means great for your heart.  It’s heftier than other nut butters, and best in savory dishes.  Its meaty flavor manages to be both sweet and bitter.  Try mixing it in a food processor with parmesan cheese, basil and fresh garlic to make a tasty oil-free pesto.

For Bone Health: Cashew Butter—rich in copper and magnesium, and full of nutrients that will help boost your bones.  It has a lighter flavor and a sweeter after-taste than other nut butters.  It’s perfect for dipping fruits and veggies or spread on toast.

So don’t just limit yourself to one smear as nut butters can be made from just about any seed or nut. Many health food stores carry a variety of butters, or try making one of your own!