|Aaah, peanut butter, that favorite of children and adults alike. You can’t beat it for satisfying a hungry stomach on a tight budget. But what if you?re allergic to peanuts? Or just plain tired of peanut butter? Good news. There are other nut (or seed) butters. Though, like peanut butter, they are high in fat, it’s mostly monounsaturated fat that’s heart-healthy. |
Moreover, nuts are a great source of protein, magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc, selenium, folic acid and other B vitamins, making nut butters a super healthful spread. They also contain important phytochemicals like flavonoids, indoles and phenols, which may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Almonds and hazelnuts are particularly rich in natural vitamin E, an antioxidant that may play a role in preventing heart disease and some kinds of cancer.
Choosing a nut butter can be tricky. Some brands are nothing but nuts, though many add salt; other butters contain sugar and added fat. Nutella‘s first ingredient is sugar. Major name brand butters like Jif, Peter Pan and Skippy are guilty of extra oil and sugar. Neither is necessary and only detract from a natural, nutty taste. Check ingredient labels to avoid nut butters with hydrogenated oil, which has artery-clogging trans fatty acids.
What about aflatoxins, the cancer-causing fungal contaminant inherent to most nuts? Consumer Reports found that big-name brands of peanut butter have the lowest levels of aflatoxins, well below government limits. Grind-your-own butters (an option in some health food stores) were the worst culprits. For the best of both worlds?nutrition and safety?we suggest buying a well-known natural brand like Smucker’s, for the fewest additives and lowest likelihood of aflatoxins.
Natural butters may not spread easily, especially if you refrigerate them, as is recommended. But if you buy a size that won’t sit open for months, you can get away with keeping it in the cupboard. Reduced-fat butters don’t spread well either. Plus they don’t save that much fat and have added sugar.
Leave a Reply