Nut Butters and Their Health Benefits

What are Nut Butters?

When it comes to nut butter, most people are only familiar with peanut butter. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich has been a lunch box staple for many years and has never lost its appeal even today. However, there is a wide range of nut butters to choose from. Nut butters that are made from almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, and many more that are available in the market. Here’s everything to know about these different types of nut butters and their health benefits.

Nut Butters and Their Health Benefits

Different Types of Nut Butters

Nearly everyone loves nut butters. Apart from the most common peanut butter, there are today many types of nut butters available on the market. The creamy texture of nut butters can be mixed into baked goods, spread on toast, and many even prefer having it by the spoonful for a quick boost of energy due to the high levels of plant-based protein.1

Here’s a look at the different types of nut butters available today:

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the most commonly used nut butters. It is widely used to make sandwiches, used to make cookies, and most people love to have it right out of the jar. Peanut butter is a classic staple in most households.

Two tablespoons of peanut butter have around seven grams of protein, making it the perfect addition to your morning toast for that boost of extra energy and nutrition.2 However, many people have a peanut allergy and are not able to have peanut butter. A peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of allergy attacks in the world. An allergic reaction to peanuts tends to occur within minutes after being exposed to peanuts.

Walnut Butter

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are excellent for the heart and are known to help improve the symptoms of arthritis as well.3,4 Walnuts contain more omega-3 fats than pecans, which have the second-highest omega-3 fat content. However, walnut butter needs to be stored in the refrigerator due to the high concentration of omega-3 fats. The unique earthy flavor of walnut butter tasted wonderful on toast and equally delicious when had straight from the jar. You can also combine walnut butter with peanut or almond butter to add a dash of extra flavor.

Almond Butter

Almond butter is another popular nut butter that can be used in the same way as peanut butter – on toast, waffles, in cookies, baked goods, and in smoothies. Two-third of the fat contained in almond butter is in the healthy monounsaturated form, and it also contains more calcium than the average peanut butter.5 Even though almond butter is costlier as compared to peanut butter, you should for a variety of raw almond butter that is free from any added ingredients.

Cashew Butter

One of the less common nut butters is cashew butter. Cashew butter is known to be smooth in texture and sweet in taste. Cashew butter is lower in fat content as compared to other types of nut butter. The majority of the fat in this nut butter is monounsaturated, thus making it a healthier option. Cashew butter is also rich in copper, which is needed for iron use in the body.6 Just like other nut butters, it is better to search for a brand of cashew butter that only contains cashews and salt.

Pistachio Butter

It may come as a surprise to many people to learn of the existence of pistachio butter. Pistachio butter is lower in fat than the other but betters and is also less oily in consistency. Pistachio butter is also rich in copper, which helps build strength in your tissues and bones, and also provides you a boost of energy.7,8 Pistachio butter is a rare nut butter and therefore is available only in specialty stores or online.

Brazil Nut Butter

Another rare nut butter, the Brazil nut, is a highly nutritious fruit that is sourced from the rainforests of Central and South America. Brazil nut is rich in selenium, which has many benefits. Selenium has a big role to play in the repairing of DNA and also boosts the immune system.9,10

Coconut Butter

The coconut is known for its many health benefits. When a coconut is turned into butter, the texture becomes grainier than the other nut butters since the coconut oil separates and rises up to the top. The tropical flavor of this nut butter is favored by many. It tastes great when you apply it on toast, put it in smoothies, or mixed into baked goods. Coconuts have a lot of health benefits and are an excellent source of fiber. Coconut is also rich in a variety of essential nutrients that the body needs.11,12

Now that we know about the various types of nut butters let us look at the many health benefits of nut butters.

Health Benefits of Nut Butters

Helps in Weight Control

Even though nuts are a high source of fat, but this does not mean that this fat will lead to weight gain. In fact, the high amount of protein and fiber in nuts help you feeling full and energized for a longer time. This means that you can eat fewer calories and lose weight in the process.

Nuts can also help your body burn more energy, even when you are at rest. If you are following a diet, you are more likely to stick with the diet if you continue to eat nuts. However, it is never a good idea to overeat nuts and nut butters.

Some of the nut butters that can help you lose weight include:

Almond butter – Almonds are nature’s superfoods, and they are a powerhouse of antioxidants, protein, and heart-healthy fats. The monounsaturated fats contained in almonds help prevent overeating, and the dietary fiber makes you feel full for a longer time, even after eating a small amount. Almonds are also a great source of an essential amino acids known as L-arginine that helps you burn fat. Almonds can help with weight loss and increase your fat metabolism.13,14,15

Walnut butter – Walnuts are rich in heart-friendly unsaturated fats that make them ideal for weight loss. Having walnut butter regularly can help boost your fat loss and lead to a healthy body weight. Walnuts are also known to have strong appetite-control power due to the presence of plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids, and many vitamins that help suppress hunger for a longer time, thus helping in weight loss.16

Pistachio butter – Commonly known as pistas, pistachios contain a high amount of protein that helps make you feel full for a longer time. This helps prevent binge eating on junk food. The protein present in pistachios also helps in building new muscle tissues. Pistachios are rich in monounsaturated fats that help promote weight loss. This healthy nut also contains L-arginine, which is a semi-essential amino acid that can help dilate your blood vessels, aiding in proper blood flow.17 One of the factors that are believed to help contribute to pistachios’ weight loss properties is that their fat content is not fully absorbed. Studies have shown this malabsorption of fats from pistachios. This is because a certain part of their fat content is stuck to their cell walls, which prevents it from getting digested in the gut.18,19

Brazil nut butter – Brazil nuts are loaded with protein and fiber, both of which are required for losing weight. They are also a great source of magnesium, selenium, thiamine, and phosphorus, all of which are nutrients the body needs for promoting weight loss. Similar to pistachios, Brazil nuts also contain L-arginine, which is essential in burning fat. Brazil nuts can also help kick-start the body’s metabolism.20,21

Cashew butter – Cashew nuts are rich in magnesium that is required by the body for regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat, which may further help with weight loss. Cashews are also a great source of protein, which is needed for losing weight.22

Full of Good Fats

Most of the fat found in nuts is unsaturated, which is better for your health as compared to saturated fat found in meat or trans fat found in most processed foods. This type of healthy fat can help stabilize your blood sugar and insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar.

Apart from monounsaturated fat, nuts are also rich in omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. In fact, some nut butters like walnut butter are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, similar to fatty fish like salmon.

The healthy fats in nut butter also help prevent heart disease. The fiber content of nut butters also helps lower cholesterol levels. Eating one ounce of nuts every day is known to dramatically decrease the risk of heart disease in the long run by nearly 30 percent.23

Nut Butters Are Rich In Nutrients

Apart from containing a lot of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, nuts are also rich in nutrients like vitamins B6 and E, niacin, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
One ounce, or 28 grams, of mixed nuts contains24:

  • Total calories: 173
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Fat: 16 grams, out of which 9 grams is of monounsaturated fat
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Vitamin E: 12% of Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI)
  • Selenium: 56% of RDI
  • Magnesium: 16% of RDI
  • Copper: 23% of RDI
  • Phosphorus: 13% of RDI
  • Manganese: 26% of RDI

Some nut butters contain a higher amount of nutrients than others. For example, one Brazil nut can provide you with over 100 percent of the RDI for selenium.

Nuts are one of the best sources of plant-based proteins to include in your daily diet. According to a 2017 review of several studies, a diet that is rich in nuts helps prevent many risk factors like inflammation that is the underlying cause of many chronic diseases.25 A 2008 study with 1200 participants found that consuming a Mediterranean diet and 30 grams of nuts each day reduced the prevalence of metabolic syndrome more than what a Mediterranean diet with olive oil or a low-fat diet can.26

Nuts are also known to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, improve blood sugar and blood pressure, and even lower the risk of developing certain cancers.27,28

It is a good idea to check the food label of your brand of nut butter before buying. Many brands have added sugar, salt, preservatives, and other unhealthy fats that can cause more harm than good. So read the ingredient label and purchase your nut butter accordingly.

Great Source Of Antioxidants

Nuts are potent antioxidants. Nuts contain the antioxidant polyphenol, which can help fight against oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that can cause cell damage, thus increasing the risk of many diseases, even cancer.28

A 2012 study found that walnuts have a higher capacity of fighting free radicals in the body than fish.29

Research has also found that antioxidants contained in almonds and walnuts can protect the delicate fats present in our cells from getting damaged by oxidation.30,31,32

A study with 13 participants found that eating almonds or walnuts significantly increased the levels of polyphenol in the body while also reducing oxidative damage, as compared to the control meal taken by the participants.33

Apart from polyphenols, nut butters are also rich in flavonoids, phenols, and other substances that have strong antioxidant properties. This is also believed to be a reason why people who consume more nuts and nut butters have healthier hearts and overall better health. Nuts and nut butters can also help protect against the development of colon cancer.34

Helps Maintain Your Cholesterol And Triglyceride Levels

Nuts have a significant effect on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. For example, pistachios help lower triglycerides in people who are overweight or obese and have diabetes.

A 12-week study with obese participants found that those who ate pistachios regularly had almost 22% lower triglyceride levels than the control group participants.35

The ability to lower cholesterol is believed to be because of the high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in nuts.

Almonds and hazelnuts are known to increase good (HDL) cholesterol levels while also reducing total and bad (LDL) cholesterol. A study found that taking hazelnuts regularly in any form has a similar benefit on cholesterol levels.36,37

Conclusion

Due to the numerous health benefits associated with nuts and nut butters, consuming them regularly can help improve your health in many ways, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Nut butters can also help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels while also aiding in weight loss despite the high-calorie count.

Remember that as long as you consume nut butters in moderation, they can make for a wonderful addition to your healthy and balanced diet.

References:

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