If you all follow me on Instagram, then you know how much of a nut/seed butter freak I am. Peanut butter probably tops the charts for me at the moment (it’s the most affordable) but I’d never turn my nose up at sunflower seed butter, almond butter and any of these amazing flavors.
In an ideal world, I’d whip up a batch made from scratch every couple of weeks to work with but being in school, I just don’t always have that kind of time which means relying on store-bought options. I often get a lot of questions on Instagram about what kinds of products I use, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to explain the process I go through when choosing a store-bought nut butter!
The very first thing I look at is the ingredients. For me, I look for nut and seed butters that contain only 1-2 ingredients: Nuts (or Seeds) and Salt. I personally prefer my butters without salt, so for me I look for those that only contain the nut or seed of choice sans the salt. If you’re trying to watch your sodium levels or you tend to eat out a lot, I would recommend doing the same. Otherwise, just take the amount of sodium (usually around 80mg per 2 tbsp. serving) into account for the rest of your day.
Nut and seed butters in this form are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and even phytochemicals making it a great option to include in your diet.
Also worth noting is that now a days you can find nut butters with other added ingredients such as raisins, flax seeds and chia seeds. These are not unhealthy options and if you prefer such add-ins, go for it!
Things start to get a little more dicey when you see other ingredients crop up on the label. Suddenly you can be adding unnecessary trans-fat and sugar with each spoonful, making that once healthy option not so healthy for you.
Hydrogenated oils contain trans fat which are universally bad for you given that they not only raise your “bad” cholesterol (your LDL) but they also lower your “good” cholesterol (your HDL) which can increase one’s risk for heart disease. You’ll know your nut or seed butters contain this if you look in two places: the first is on the nutrition label under “trans fat.” Keep in mind though that this can say “0” if the product contains less than 0.5g/serving. To be doubly sure you want to look at the ingredients. If the words “partially hydrogenated oil” appear there, then you can be sure that there’s some trans fat in your product.
It’s no secret that high amounts of sugar in our diet are not recommended, so why include it in foods when you don’t need to? Stick to those versions of nut and seed butters that don’t contain added sugars. Particularly since it’s not a needed ingredient!
Molasses, while often touted for it health benefits given that it contains some vitamins and minerals, is in fact a waste product of sugar refinement. However, it’s important to note that molasses is very high in calories and has no protein or fiber. Therefore making it an unnecessary addition(health-wise) to your nut and seed butter.
There are endless options out there (as I’m sure you all know!) and it really comes down to taste preferences in the end (once you figure out what you’re looking for), but the above are just a few of my favorites. Of course it’s always important to pay attention to any recalls going on as they can unfortunately happen from time to time with nut and seed butters. Happy hunting all!0