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Which Nut Butter to Choose?

There are so many choices out there now-a-days for healthy nut butter options. So which one is the healthier choice? Which one is more environmentally friendly? Which one tastes better? You have tree nut allergies, but still want an option?

This article will be focusing on Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, Tahini and Soy Nut Butters.

So, to discuss the healthier option. First thing, if the product says, 'no stir', leave it on the shelf. It's likely the manufacturer as added rapeseed or palm oil for easy spreading. It's those hydrogenated oils that aren't good for us and can increase bad cholesterol levels. Stirring these butters can be a pain, but the separation shows that it has no additives. (A trick to stirring these is using a hand mixer, putting one mixer on, gently put through the jar, and turn on to the lowest speed HOLDING THE JAR tightly, this will blend it well).

Let's talk calories, based on 2 tablespoons or 28 grams, Sunflower seed has the most at 210 cal and Peanut butter has the least at 180 cal. (this is a natural peanut that needs to be stirred). Protein - Peanut butter and Tahini both have 8g with Almond and Soy Butters having 7g. Fat - Tahini and Sunflower Seed Butters have the most at 19g and Peanut Butter has the least at 16g. Carbohydrates - Cashew Butter has the most at 9g and Tahini and Sunflower Seed Butter has 4g. So the winner of the healthiest option is Natural Peanut Butter.....Bet that one surprised most of you!

Environmentally friendly option. We all know that Almonds use a lot of water to grow, and California USA is the largest region that grows them. Peanuts are mainly grown in China, making up 70% of the production. Cashews are grown in India and Vietnam, but are usually shipped to India for processing by hand. Sesame seeds are grown in Asia, mainly India, and Sunflower seeds come from Ukraine and Russia making up 50% of their production. So, as we can see, there are environmental issues for all these nuts to be grown, either using a large water footprint, transportation requirements and some human right issues in processing them by hand. I will leave this topic as open at your discretion.

The best taste option. This too is a personal discretion. Cashew Butter is known to be the sweeter option, with Sunflower and Tahini being the most distinct in taste. I know I LOVE peanut butter, and my second choice is Almond Butter.

Nut allergies - are more common than ever these days. Sunflower seed Butter is a great alternative for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. The nutritional value is similar to the other more common options, but is higher vitamin E which is a great antioxidant.

Here are some great options to use your nut butter on for snacks:

- Celery - slap on a tablespoon and you have a great healthy filling option

- Apples - spread some on, and enjoy

- Add to a smoothie - this will increase your protein, and good fat for the day

- Add to oatmeal - this will add some filler and make it taste great

- Spread on crackers or toast

- Add to your soups/stews for a nutty flavor

Use your imagination, and the sky's the limit.

In Good Health, Wellness and Love

-Donna Rivard, RHN

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