Heart-healthy oils are a staple in any weight loss or healthy diet, and recent studies have shown that nut butters are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats which help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Previously, these fats would only come from whole nuts, but creative uses for nut butters are proving to be a more sustainable option for those new to eating healthy. This is especially true among foodies and health and fitness enthusiasts.
You can create a wide spectrum of savory and sweet dishes with nut butters, which is why they have become so popular as of late. Eating healthy is no longer equated to bland and boring food when there are delicious varieties of nut butters available.
Nut butters are among some of the most diverse health foods available, with its use as snack foods, spreads, and dips. However, there is some debate as to which nut butter is best used if the goal is to promote overall health.
Some of the most common types of nut butters include peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, Brazil nut butter, hazelnut butter, and mixed nut butter.
Typically, the more popular the nut butter, the less healthy it is because it is more likely to be mass produced and full of fillers. Compare that to, say pecan butter, which is far less common and is only really found in specialty groceries or health food stores.
Does Preparation Matter?
Perhaps the biggest debate in choosing nut butters, is the method in which it is prepared, with a choice of raw or roasted nuts used in making the nut butter blend. Surprisingly, the choice of raw or roasted nuts can have a significant impact on the nutritional value of the butter and provide some unique benefits.
Below, we take a look at the healthiest type of nut butter you can buy, along with how the use of raw nuts or roasted can make a difference. These can help you make sure you get the most out your nut butter the next time you’re doing your grocery shopping.
Almond Butter: Is It the Healthiest Type of Nut Butter?
Of all the different types of nut butters mentioned above, almond butter remains to be one of the most underrated options available. This is because almond butter has a number of unique health benefits that puts it above other nut butters as one of the healthiest choices available.
Vitamin E Content
This includes a high vitamin E content, with one serving providing over half the daily recommended levels of the nutrient. Vitamin E can help fight inflammation and protect the eyes and nervous system, as well as prevent blood clotting. It is also a powerful antioxidant, which can prevent and reverse free radical damage.
Rich in Minerals
Almond butter is also rich in minerals like magnesium and phosphorous, which are essential to muscular and nerve function. This, along with a high protein content in each serving, makes it a great option for those who live an active lifestyle.
For vegans and vegetarians, plant-based proteins can be difficult to come by. Almonds are a source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. This will not only support tissue growth, but recovery as well.
Good Source of Healthy Fats
Along with its smaller nutrients, almond butter, like many other nut butters, is also very high in monounsaturated fats. These ‘healthy fats’ have a lot of perks, which include helping control blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, and even improving brain function.
Healthy fats have also been shown to help promote weight loss due to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity, delay gastric emptying, and stabilize hormone levels.
Though fats are denser in calories than carbohydrates and protein, they have their place in any healthy weight loss diet, so long as the fat sources are natural and organic whole foods such as nuts, nut butters, avocados, fatty fish, etc.
Contains Dietary Fiber
It also has a number of other useful nutrients, like fiber, which can help regulate bowel movement and help the body absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. Fiber also helps the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut, which can bolster the immune system and protect you from illnesses.
In addition to immune-boosting properties, the fiber in almonds adds bulk to the stool, which can alleviate constipation.
All of these points make almond butter one of the nut butters available on the market today.
Raw Or Roasted Almond Butter: Which Is Healthier?
Now that we’ve outlined the general benefits of almond butter, it’s important to consider not just the type of nut butter you’re consuming, but the quality of the raw ingredients and processing method used.
Some raw materials are treated or cooked before churning, which can affect the nutritional profile, taste and texture of the final product. This is an often overlooked factor, but it is especially important in light of the prevalence of pesticides, GMOs and herbicides in today’s food.
Pesticides, GMOs and herbicides have been linked to a slew of diseases such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, chemical poisoning, hormone disruption, and many more.
Contrary to what many individuals may believe, all nuts found in nut butters are not equal. One of the most common practices in making nut butters, such as almond butter, is to use roasted nuts.
When the nuts are harvested, they are also further processed through roasting at high temperatures in an effort to give them a better taste.
However, the roasting of these nuts, particularly almonds, can occur at very high temperatures. This can cause some nutrients in the nuts to be destroyed or badly damaged, which can lead to them becoming only partially, or completely, useless to the body when eaten.
Examples of this would be nutrients like protein, iron and some B vitamins, which can all suffer damage at varying heats. Some of the oils and materials that are used to roast the nuts can also be a cause for concern, as some cooking oils have been shown to cause adverse health effects.
Furthermore, the use of some cooking materials may act to contaminate the nuts and also cause some health issues.
All of these factors show that the simple process of pre-roasting the nuts used in your nut butter may have a greater impact on health and fitness than you think, and should be a serious consideration when you are looking at purchasing your next jar of nut spread.
In contrast to the above practice, the use of raw almonds, or other nuts, when blending nut butters is less common but may be more beneficial for health.
Some of these benefits include a higher nutritional profile and a longer shelf life as well. Naturally present antioxidants are preserved in raw or blanched almonds compared to roasted almonds that go through processing.
Another benefit is that raw almonds may also have higher fiber. The raw forms of some nuts are also usually organically grown and harvested, which means that there are no pesticides or additives used when preparations them to be blended.
Almond butter is a great alternative to other spreads that are high in sugar.
Just one spoonful a day can enhance your diet in more ways than one. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck in terms of both health and nutrition, then look for brands that use organic raw almonds such as Thrive Market Organic Almond Butter.
Use this healthy spread on sandwiches, as a dip or sauce to elevate your favorite dishes, incorporate into desserts, and many more.