When we think of nut butter, most of us think of peanut butter. Although, recently, we’ve seen a lot more choices around (almond, cashew and brazil) which go great with smoothies by the way. The health benefits of nut butter may not be very obvious because we know that nuts are high in fat but Vavista Life has helped break things down as to why nut butter is packed with goodness.
Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon explains, “While nuts may contain a seemingly high amount of calories and fat – they can play a role (in the right portions!) in a well-balanced, healthy diet. Most of the fat in nuts is the healthy unsaturated type, plus they are a fabulously well-rounded source of protein, vitamins E and B group, minerals including copper, zinc and magnesium and fibre. They are a great on-the-go snack with a low glycaemic index to help you feel fuller for longer and help suppress appetite. You can easily make your own, just by blitzing nuts (pre-roast for a few minutes if you like) in a food processor until the natural oils are released to form a buttery texture. But if you go for shop-bought, check the label to find one that has no hidden nasties like sugar or palm oil.”
Dr Norton’s top tip you ask? Most nut butter separate when stored but this doesn’t affect their nutritional value, just give them a good stir and you’re good to go. Here are some serving suggestions…
1. Add a teaspoon to your morning smoothie for added protein, to help you feel fuller longer.
2. Spread a teaspoonful thinly on slices of apple or pear – the fibre in nut butter helps to slow down digestion and absorption of sugars from the fruit.
3. Wholegrain toast spread with a thin spread of peanut butter and topped with a sliced banana is a great breakfast or why not try this as a sandwich filling?
Breakdown pros and cons of nut butter:
Pros: A good source of protein; highest folic acid content (useful during pregnancy) as well as being high in healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
Cons: Some brands have a little-added sugar but these days many have none added.
Pros: Highest in zinc, copper and iron – naturally sweeter than any other nut butter.
Cons: Less protein than other nuts.
Pros: One of the lowest in calories and the highest in protein, fibre and calcium.
Cons: Relatively few, although some brands can have a bitter aftertaste.
Pros: Good for men, as 1-2 nuts deliver your recommended daily intake of the mineral selenium, which may help protect against prostate cancer and heart disease.
Cons: The most expensive option when it comes to nut butter.
Pros: One of the few vegetarian sources of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA some of which can be converted to long chain omega 3 known to be involved in heart health.
Cons: Bitter aftertaste, slightly lower protein and slightly higher in fat than some other nut butter.
Pros: One of the lowest percentages of saturated fat (along with pine nuts and almonds); highest proanthocyanidins (PACs) content of all nut butter. The antioxidant capabilities of PACs are likely to be 20 times more potent than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E.
Cons: Often found to be coupled with chocolate spreads so read the label carefully!