Peanut Butter vs. Almond Butter (+ Are They Both Good for You?)
In the United States, peanuts and peanut butter have been the nut and nut butter of choice for decades for adults and children alike, with the average American consuming over three thousand peanut butter sandwiches over the course of their lifetime.
While there are some definite health benefits associated with peanut butter, there is another alternative to peanut butter that many Americans forget.
Almond butter is an incredibly healthy alternative and is increasingly becoming more and more popular throughout the United States. This article will discuss the pros and cons of both almond and peanut butters, and whether or not there is a winner between these two types of butter.
Benefits of Almond Butter
1. Almond Butter Is Low In Carbs
Almond butter is a great source of energy without a ton of extra carbohydrates. In a single serving of almond butter, or about one tablespoon, there are three grams of carbohydrates, or about one percent of the recommended daily amount of carbohydrates for those who are following a two-thousand calorie diet.
Following a low carbohydrate diet can help those who are struggling with weight loss. Additionally, almond butter contains 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, or about six percent of your daily needs, which helps to keep you feeling full as well as promoting a healthy and regular digestive system. (1)
2. Almond Butter is High in Protein
Almond butter is also an excellent source of protein. In a one tablespoon serving of almond butter, there are 3.5 grams of protein, which equals approximately five percent of your daily recommended amount of protein if you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds.
To calculate how much protein you need in a day, divide your current weight by twenty, then multiply that amount by eight, as the Harvard School of Public Health advises adults consume eight grams of protein per twenty pounds.
Protein is essential for a healthy body as it promotes healthy bones, muscles, skin, nails, and bones, as well as helping produce healthy red blood cells that bring oxygen throughout the body. (2)
3. Almond Butter is Full of Healthy Fats
Almond butter is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are incredibly important for a healthy heart, skin and nails.
One tablespoon serving of contains 6.1 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat. (3)
For those who are consuming two thousand calories per day, aim to consume between forty and sixty-two grams of unsaturated fats per day. Saturated fats and trans fats should be consumed in much lesser amounts, as they can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular concerns, as well as obesity. (4)
4. Almond Butter is Full of Vitamin E
In recent years, foods that are antioxidants have become increasingly popular for a number of different reasons.
Antioxidants are found in plant based foods that help to prevent damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that are found naturally in the body but are produced by environmental factors as well.
Almond butter is high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that is best known for its skin and hair healing properties. Vitamin E is also important for hormone regulation and can help lower high ‘bad’ cholesterol. (5) One tablespoon of almond butter contains approximately twenty-five percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin E.
5. Almond Butter is High in Magnesium
One serving of almond butter contains approximately eleven percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium.
Magnesium is an important nutrient for a number of different reasons. Magnesium helps to keep your immune system healthy, keeps your muscles and bones strong, can help manage diabetes and high blood pressure, and keeps your nervous system working correctly. (6)
Cons of Almond Butter
1. Almonds are High in Oxalates
Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals found in a variety of different plant based foods. While oxalates are not troublesome to most people, those who have kidney troubles or have other problems filtering oxalates out of the body may want to stay away from almond butter.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about almond butter in your diet or oxalates in general. (7)
2. Many People Suffer from Tree Nut Allergies
In recent years, the number of people who are suffering from peanut allergies has nearly tripled.
While peanuts are not in the same category as almonds and other tree nuts, as peanuts are technically legumes, at least one third of children who are allergic to peanuts also develop an allergy to all tree nuts as well. As side effects of peanut and tree nut allergies can be severe, talk to your doctor if you have any questions about allergies. (8)
3. Conventionally and Commercially Grown Almonds Can Be Hard on the Environment
While there are a wide variety of different health benefits associated with regular almond butter consumption, almond production, particularly conventional and large scale commercial farms, can be particularly difficult on the environment.
If not grown sustainably, almonds use excessive amounts of water and many pesticides that are used in almond production are detrimental to the already dwindling bee population.
When possible, buy organic almond butter to ensure your almonds were grown without pesticides and used sustainable growing practices. (9)
Benefits of Peanut Butter
1. Peanut Butter Can Aid Weight Loss
Peanut butter is a fantastic, low-carbohydrate snack that is high in protein. Protein is a great source of energy that helps to keep you feeling full longer. Peanut butter contains approximately four grams of protein per one tablespoon serving.
To figure out how much protein you need in a day, divide your body weight by twenty, then multiply the result by 8, as an average, healthy adult needs eight grams of protein per twenty pounds of body weight.
Many dieters find that consuming a tablespoon of peanut butter in lieu of treats such as candy or chocolate can help calm cravings while not ruining your diet.
2. Peanut Butter Promotes A Healthy Brain
Peanuts are a fantastic source of niacin, also known as Vitamin B3. Niacin is incredibly important throughout the body, as it helps to regulate blood sugar levels, can lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, and helps to process fat. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides twenty-two percent of your daily recommended amount of niacin. (10)
3. Peanut Butter is A Good Source of Protein
For every tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter, you can get up to 5 grams of protein. If your goal is to cut down on calories, nut butters are not the lowest-calorie option, for high-fat, moderate protein dieters can fit nut butters into their diet fairly easily, as the absence of carbohydrates makes room for more calories. (11)
4. Peanut Butter is Easily Available and Affordable
Peanut butter is the most readily available of all the nut butters. As such, it is typically the least expensive, making it the more cost-effective option for many. It’s not uncommon to see stores with a DIY section where you can churn your own nut butters on the spot, to ensure that there are no added ingredients into your nut butter. Homemade peanut butter is still the best among commercially available peanut butters.
5. Peanut Butter is Low in Carbs
Similar to almond butter, peanut butter in its most basic form is low in carbs, with most of it coming from fiber.
For those who follow a low-carb diet, such as the Atkins Diet or the Ketogenic Diet, peanut butter is a safe choice, as there are no trace carbs that can raise blood sugar.
However, not all peanut butter products on the market are made with only peanuts. Always check the label to make sure that there are no added sugars, fillers and preservatives.
Cons of Peanut Butter
1. Commercial Brands are High in Sodium, Sugar, and Unnatural Preservatives
There are a great deal of different health benefits of peanuts and peanut butter, but there are a host of different health concerns associated with many overly-processed, commercial brands of peanut butter.
Many brands of peanut butter are high in sodium, which in excess can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular concerns as well as kidney damage, are high in sugars, which can negate any weight loss efforts, and preservatives that can contribute to various health concerns throughout the body.
If possible, choose natural peanut butter that contains only one ingredient: peanuts!
2. Peanut Butter May Cause Inflammation
While peanut butter is high in healthy fats, peanut butter is high in omega-6 fatty acids. While this type of polyunsaturated fats can play a role in reducing the levels of unhealthy cholesterol, there are some health concerns associated with these fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids play a role in increased inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Peanut Butter is Prone to Mold and Fungus
While there are a wide variety of different types of peanut butter, from organic to processed, mold and fungus is a problem on peanuts, peanut butter, and all peanut products. One type of mold, Aspergillus flavus, can cause aflatoxin, which is a carcinogen. Additionally, people who are allergic or particularly sensitive to mold and fungus should avoid peanut butter.
Is There A Clear Winner?
While this may be up to personal interpretation, almond butter tends to be the winner in the debate between almond and peanuts for a couple of different reasons.
Almond butters tend to be less processed, with fewer preservatives, artificial and natural sweeteners, and sodium. In fact, many health food stores have almond butters that only contain one ingredient. It is also not uncommon to find stores that have fresh ground almond butter.
Additionally, while almond and peanut butters are very similar nutritionally, almonds are higher in good fats, various vitamins and minerals that promote all over bodily health, and fiber. Peanuts only beat out almonds in protein levels.
Whether you are a bigger fan of the taste of almond butter or peanut butter, rest assured knowing that people who consume diets that are high in nuts have a lower risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a host of other ailments.
A balanced diet high in nut butters, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates helps to keep you healthy and happy well into old age, both physically and mentally.