All The Nuts.
There’s very few people I’ve met that aren’t peanut butter fans. I mean how many people can you think of that would pass on a jar of pumpkin spice almond butter? (YES, it exists. I just found a jar at Sprouts last night and immediately put it in my cart. I mean is that even a question?) Then there’s those delightful chocolate hazelnut butters (like nutella). If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve sat down at least once in your life with a jar of nut butter and have eaten it by the spoonfuls. They’re good on everything!
Caramel rice cakes + peanut butter + banana.
Oatmeal + maple almond butter + blueberries.
Pancakes + chocolate hazelnut spread + strawberries.
Chocolate + banana + peanut butter smoothies.
Greek yogurt + apples + pumpkin spice almond butter + granola.
I’ll stop now before I go buy another jar of a different kind of peanut butter.
But have you ever wondered if all of these wonder jars of goodness are good for you? Or maybe I should ask a different question. Have you ever wondered if what else they put in those jars is good for you? I know we all love those creamy spreads, but a lot of people never take the time to read what’s actually in them. Sure, nuts are a healthy fat, but when there’s hydrogenated oils and sugar blended in, they’re not so healthy anymore. So what should you look for in a good-for-you nut butter? I’m glad you asked!
First of all, you should know that the most basic nut butter is made of one thing: nuts. You stick ‘em in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. That’s it. No added sugars. No added oils. No added salt. Only nuts. However, when there’s pumpkin spice flavored almond butters out there, how do we pass those up?! So let’s talk about the added ingredients that you should watch out for in our nutty friends, because some are worse than others. If the label has any or all of these additives, you might want to put it back on the shelf.
In any plain jane brand of peanut butter you know from the grocery store, there is most likely at least one kind of added oil. The most popular is hydrogenated vegetable oils (like canola or soybean). When you see the word “hydrogenated”, it means that hydrogen has been added to the unsaturated fat to make it solid, giving it a longer shelf life. This is what we call a trans fat. These partially hydrogenated oils increase bad cholesterol (HDL) and lower good cholesterol (LDL). Whenever you see the “natural” brands or jars that say “no added ingredients”, have you noticed how there’s normally oil sitting in the top of the jar? This is because it’s NOT hydrogenated, keeping the oil liquid at room temp- like it should be. This is its natural state. When you see that, don’t be grossed out. That’s how your nut butter should look! So keep an eye out for any added oils, because you won’t want those in your belly!
Most normal jars of nut butters have added sugars. I won’t go too in depth on this one. If there’s added sugars, I try to stay away simply because I try to eat as natural as I can, getting my sugar intake from natural sugars like fruits. Read the label!
I don’t pay too much attention to my sodium intake, but a lot of people do or need to for health reasons. Nuts and nut butters often come salted. I try to buy the ones that say “no salt added” just because I don’t need the salt. That one is up to you. If you’re watching your sodium intake, I’d pay attention to this one. If not, it’s not a huge deal. I’m not recommending you buy everything with added sodium, but you can be a little more lenient with salt than others.
There’s a lot of flavored nut butters out there. If you like those, just pay attention to the extra ingredients. Natural flavors are totally fine. Artificial flavors are ones that you want to look out for. Just be cautious of the other additives being anything artificial. If it’s natural like a natural flavor or seed, it’s perfectly healthy. One of my favorite kinds of peanut butters has flax seeds in it and I love that because I get an extra source of omega-3s. But if the extra ingredient is artificial, you might want to reconsider.
I’ve always had the biggest obsession with peanut and almond butters, but I never realized how some of the brands I ate for years had hydrogenated oils or artificial additives in them. I just wanted to shed some light on this subject since I just bought two new jars of nut butters last night, and the things I listed above were all things I looked for when I read their labels. It’s totally a real thing I look at when I shop!
Want to know some of my favorite brands? These are the one’s that I keep going back to!
Barney’s Almond Butter (the flavored one’s have a very small amount of sugar, but they taste SO good. Nothing beats the cocoa and coconut one)
Kirkland Almond Butter (you can get a GIANT jar for $7! That’s the cheapest out of any other brand I’ve seen)
Sprout’s Creamy Natural No Salt Added Peanut Butter
Trader Joe’s Crunchy Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds
Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter
Homemade cinnamon roll almond butter (if you’d like to see a recipe for this, leave a comment below)