Why buy nut and seed butters?
- All nut and seed butters are high in fat, because all nuts and seeds have a high fat content. But the fats are not ‘bad’ – they are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are known to have many health benefits, especially to the heart, brain and nervous systems, and are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- Their protein, fat and fibre content make them a great source of long-lasting energy and help to steady blood sugar levels, keeping you full and energised across the day. Research has shown that eating nuts on a regular basis helps some people to manage their weight more effectively.
- Nut and seed butters are packed with important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and studies suggest eating certain nuts on a regular basis may reduce the risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Which ones to buy?
There are many nut and seed butters out there. They are all worth a try as they differ in flavour, texture, consistency and health benefits. Here are some of our favourites:
- Almond butter – Almond butter is rich and full of flavour. It is a great choice for those concerned about heart and bone health. Not only is it low in saturated fat, rich in monounsaturated fats and fibre and a great dietary source of vitamin E, which is known to lower the risk of coronary heart disease – it is also packed with bone-building and strengthening magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Store in the fridge and use to spread on apple slices, add to baking or stir through porridge.
- Cashew butter – this creamy, protein-packed butter is a good match for vegetarians needing a protein-boost or those wanting to keep their skin and hair beautiful. It is packed with collagen-boosting copper and skin-healing zinc and contains a good level of iron, needed to keep those hair locks luscious. The high folate content also makes it a good choice for any woman thinking of having a baby – folate is the natural form of folic acid, needed early on in pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Perfect for smoothies and homemade ice cream.
- Pumpkin seed butter may be the perfect late-night snack for those in need of their sleep. It is a good source of the protein building block tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin and then to melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Eating some pumpkin seed butter with a little carbohydrate, such as banana, before bed may help you to dose off more easily.
- Walnut butter boasts the highest levels of omega 3 out of all the nut butters. Omega 3 is an essential fat, meaning it must come from the diet. It is needed for controlling inflammation, supporting cardiovascular health and managing weight, amongst others. The type of omega 3 in walnuts is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – it is not as potent as the omega 3 you find in oily fish (DHA and EPA) but it is still worth including in your diet, especially if you don’t eat oily fish. Omega 3 is a very delicate fat so store it in the fridge.
Things to bear in mind when buying your nut and seed butters…
- Nut and seed butters should be eaten in moderation due to their high calorie content, but their rich nutritional value makes them a healthy store-cupboard essential.
- You get what you pay for – a nut or seed butter that has added sugar, hydrogenated oils and salt does not compare to a purer version, so check the labels. Adding unhealthy oils helps to bind the nut butter, so without these it may separate and need stirring before each use, but this is a small trade-off and storing it upside down helps.
- Choosing a raw butter made from unroasted nuts and seeds will give you a healthier fat profile than those made from roasted nuts and seeds. Although many people prefer the roasted taste – buy both and alternate if you can’t decide!
- Check the salt content as some brands add more than others.
Bespoke Nutrition in the Kitchen
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