Grocery store shelves are filled with jar after jar of nut butter, most peanut butter, including those popular brands you probably grew up with as a child, but most commercial peanut butter is packed with sugar and fillers and have more sugar than they do fiber. Even those so-called “all-natural” brands that market themselves as the healthier choice often pack their products with unnecessary additives.
Before we go into the best, healthiest nut butter out there, let’s take a look at what you don’t want.
What to look out for in nut butters:
Hydrogenated oils & sugar
The majority of these nut butters are processed with hydrogenated oils, as well as sugar, so it’s a must to carefully read that label to see just what you’re getting inside. And don’t be fooled by ingredients like dried cane syrup or agave syrup, which are simply code words for sugar. The most popular peanut butters are scarily made with fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are extremely hard, wax-like fats that are made by forcing as much hydrogen as possible onto the carbon backbone of fat molecules. In order to get that right consistency, that hard fat is often blended with liquid fats.
Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats which have been linked to heart disease, and are considered one of the worst things you can put into your body – right up there with smoking cigarettes. Fully hydrogenated oils are still bad for you because they are highly processed and high in saturated fats which are combined with vegetable oils to create a substance that’s very similar to partially hydrogenated oils.
Then, there are those reduced fat nut butters – something that you never want to choose as that simply means that the manufacturer used something unhealthy to replace it, usually a couple of different types of sugar like corn syrup and a liquid sweetener, along with a bunch of additives and a thickener. Other than calories, these nut butters offer no nutritional value whatsoever.
The other thing to watch out for is “no stir.” Despite manufacturers putting this on the front of the label as if it’s a benefit, it’s not a good thing. All that means is that they’ve added some type of palm oil or hydrogenated oil to the nut butter in order to make it shelf-stable. Nuts are mostly made up of fats, so when they’re ground up and stored, the fat should separate from the nuts – stirring is a GOOD thing!
Truly, there is no reason that nut butters should contain all of this junk. All you have to do is put nuts of any kind into a blender and turn on the power until a paste forms. You get pure, nutritious nut butter that offers lots of benefits, including supporting a healthier heart. For example, one tablespoon of pure almond butter promotes heart health by lowering “bad,” LDL cholesterol. Some of the benefits of nut butters are derived from their vitamin E content, which helps protect essential fats in the body from damage by free radicals. It also maintains fats that support the structure and function of cells, while keeping your immune system functioning as it should. Almond butter contains the most, with 26 percent of the recommended daily allowance in just one tablespoon – cashew butter and peanut butter contain about half that amount.
Nut butters you really need to try:
Given all that, it probably makes the most sense to simply make your own nut butter if you’ve got the time, but in today’s busy world that’s something many of us are short on, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best nut butters available today that you’ve really got to try. They’re so delicious, and healthy, you may want to have fun experimenting with all of them to determine which you like best.
This nut butter is not only packed with a variety of nutritious nuts, it contains healthy seeds as well. With all organic cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds, it’s hard to beat nutritionally, and it has a fabulously crunchy taste that makes it even more satisfying too. It has a rich flavor that’s excellent spread onto a banana or apple slices. Of course, it’s so tasty, you might want to lick it right off the spoon. It’s a good source of vitamin C and offers 12% of your daily fiber needs too.
Plus, all of the Nuttzo flavors and products are 100% organic, contain no added sugars or oils, are high in healthy fats and protein, contain flax in every flavor to help you meet your daily Omega 3 needs, are gluten-free certified, non-GMO certified, and kosher certified.
Watch out for the Sunbutter brand, as some of their products also have added sugar, but this butter contains only 100% organic roasted sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds can be processed into a smooth, spreadable alternative to nut butters, making them an ideal nutrition choice for anyone with a tree nut allergy – and this one is also produced in a nut-free facility. Some even deliver more fiber, magnesium, niacin, and vitamin E than nut butters. The Sunbutter Organic Sunflower Spread is loaded with vitamin E, making it well worth the calories.
Walnuts are widely considered to be the best vegetarian source of essential omega-3 fatty acids there is. Although walnut butter is slightly lower in protein and higher in fat, it’s still an excellent choice due to its high level of omega-3s which help with normal heart rate and blood flow, lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and help relieve arthritis symptoms. They contain five times more omega-3s than pecans, which have the next highest concentration. One thing to keep in mind is that due to the high proportion of this fragile fat, walnut butter can turn rancid easily, especially when exposed to heat and air, so be sure to store your walnut butter in the refrigerator.
The only ingredients in Artisana’s walnut butter are organic raw walnuts and organic raw cashews. Walnut butter has an earthy, buttery taste, but it can have a sharp bitter note which is why it’s usually mixed with other nuts like cashews to balance it out with a naturally sweet flavor. This brand is also USDA Organic, Certified Organic by QAI, Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, gluten-free and vegan.
The only downside is that this tasty nut butter is hard to find in grocery stores, so you may need to order it online or ask your local health food store or co-op to stock it.
Fooducate rates this nut butter as the most nutritious there is, giving it an “A” grade. It’s minimally processed, offers 16% of your daily fiber needs in one serving, and contains just one ingredient: lightly toasted unblanched organic almonds. It has the same creamy texture as peanut butter, yet it offers about 3 grams more of heart healthy monounsaturated fat per serving as well as being a great source of protein. It’s certified USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified too. You can also buy it here at Thrive Market.
Blue Mountain Organics is famous for its certified organic raw and sprouted nuts as well as nut butter, and other “superfoods.” Based in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, it offers impressive varieties like European and California almond butter produced from unpasteurized almonds that include impressive amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and fiber as well as that heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Its organic almond butter contains the highest amount of protein of any other nut butter too. The only ingredient is premium, organic, whole raw sprouted European almonds.
Dastony is known for using an ancient method called stone-grinding to produce its nut butter – the process was originally used for turning olives into olive oil by applying pressure with powerful granite wheels. The company states that this technique offers natural preservation by maintaining a consistent low temperature throughout the process, resulting in an especially “silky smooth texture,” along with a natural sweet taste. It also helps to preserve all of those important vitamins and minerals. Dastony notes that every batch is handcrafted in a process that takes 24 to 48 hours in order to achieve its outstanding results. Plus, it’s independently certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
Dastony’s raw almond butter is high in vitamin E and healthy fats, and contains lots of fiber along with calcium, zinc, selenium, copper and magnesium.
Brad’s Naturals also covers a variety of different forms of peanut butter, but its smooth, natural peanut butter spread boasts an ingredient list containing nothing but 100 percent organic peanuts. Wonderfully spreadable and soft, it has excellent consistency with a naturally sweet and slightly smoky taste. It’s minimally processed and high in dietary fiber too.
Barney Bare is literally a “bare-bones” almond butter. It gets an A rating from Fooducate and contains only blanched and roasted almonds, with just a small amount of palm fruit oil and more than 16% of your daily fiber needs. It’s also a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Only the highest grades of California almonds are used, and by blanching them it removes most of the phytic acid to produce a butter that tastes better and is better for you too.
Barney Bare is completely peanut-free, made in a dedicated almond only, peanut-free facility. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and Non-GMO Project Verified. Consumers enjoy its ultra smooth, no grit texture. The company also offers other healthy varieties of nut butter, like its Raw + Chia and Honey + Flax.
Another great sunflower seed butter, Swanson’s is made only with roasted organic sunflower seeds. There are no additives whatsoever, not even salt. It offers a healthy blend of mono and polyunsaturated fats, a high level of vitamin E, protein, fiber, minerals like copper and magnesium, along with important phytonutrients. Plus, it’s ideal for those with nut allergies as it’s made in a tree nut- and peanut-free facility.
Artisana’s cashew butter has just one ingredient: 100% organic raw cashews, and it often ranks as the No. 1 tasting and most nutritious cashew butter of all. Pure cashew butter in general has a natural sweet taste and a smooth, creamy texture. Although it is somewhat lower in fat than other nut butter, its fat profile is considered outstanding. About 62 percent of the fat in cashew butter is of the monounsaturated type, making it one of the top sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, in the nut category. MUFAs, which are also found in high proportions in foods like olive oil and avocados, offer beneficial effects on both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Artisan’s cashew butter is gluten-free and GMO-free, as well as being loaded with iron and essential vitamins. Consumers like its delicious creamy, slightly sweet taste. In fact, more than a few Amazon reviewers have called it the best tasting cashew butter ever. While it contains no peanuts whatsoever, it is made in a facility that processes tree nuts.
Rejuvenative Foods’ Cashew Butter is also often rated among the top cashew butters. The company is known for its wholesome, delicious and nutritious foods it has produced for over three decades now. It not only makes raw nut and seed butters, but raw cultured vegetables, fresh raw unrefined oils and fresh stone-ground traditional, raw chocolate. In line with that, is its cashew butter that uses only 100% organic, raw cashews, and nothing else. That makes it an outstanding source of plant-based protein that’s also low in carbohydrates.