Nut and Seed Butters

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . .

Nut and seed butters are made by grinding raw or roasted kernels into a spreadable paste.  Salt and sugar may be added to grounded nuts. Some manufacturers add oil and emulsifiers to create a creamier product and to prevent the oil from separating out.

I prefer natural brands that contain only ground nuts (and sometimes salt). To keep the oil from separating, I store my jar of natural peanut butter upside down.

Thanks to an increasing awareness of the health benefits of nuts (and peanut allergies), nut butters come in several varieties ranging from cashew to sunflower seed to walnut.  The following highlights popular nut butters and their defining nutritional qualities.

Almond butter

More than half of the fat (58 per cent) in this nut butter is monounsaturated, the type that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream.  Almond butter is an exceptional source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that prevents damage to the body’s cells, and a decent source of calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

196 calories, 18 g fat, 7 g protein, 3.2 g fibre, 7.7 mg vitamin E, 112 mg calcium, 90 mg magnesium

Cashew butter

Like almond butter, cashew butter is high in monounsaturated fat (59 per cent of its fat content).  It’s also a good source of magnesium and offers B vitamins, iron and potassium.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

180 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g protein, 1 g fibre, 83 mg magnesium.

Peanut butter

Rich in protein and monounsaturated fat, peanut butter provides plenty of vitamin E, copper and manganese. It’s also an excellent source of niacin, a B vitamin used to make stress hormones in the adrenal glands; one serving supplies 25 per cent of the daily recommended intake.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

190 calories, 16 g fat, 7 g protein, 1.6 g fibre, 3 mg vitamin E, 4.2 mg niacin, 0.5 mg manganese.

Pumpkin seed butter

A good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, this protein-rich seed butter is naturally high in magnesium, zinc and copper.  It’s also packed with manganese, a mineral that keeps our brain and nerves working properly.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

160 calories, 13 g fat, 10 g protein, 2 g fibre, 156 mg magnesium, 2.2 mg zinc, 1.3 mg manganese.

Sesame seed (tahini) butter

Made from ground toasted sesame seeds, tahini is an outstanding source of selenium, a mineral important for immunity, thyroid function and protecting cells against free radical damage. Tahini also provides calcium, iron, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytochemicals.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons

180 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g protein, 3 g fibre, 138 mg calcium, 3 mg iron, 10.3 mcg selenium (adults need 55 mcg per day).

Soy nut butter

Made from roasted soybeans, soybean oil, sugar and salt, this high-protein nut butter gets most of its fat (56 per cent) from polyunsaturated fatty acids. Its nutrient content varies slightly depending on brand. 

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

170-200 calories, 11-16 g fat, 7-8 g protein, 2-3 g fibre, 100 mg sodium.

Sunflower seed butter

Naturally high in polyunsaturated fat (66 percent of total fat), sunflower seed butter is a nutrient powerhouse. One serving provides nearly half a day’s worth of vitamin E and selenium and more than a day’s worth of zinc, a mineral needed to fight off foreign bacteria and viruses.  Sunflower seed butter is also a good source of folate, copper and potassium.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

170 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g protein, 3.6 g fibre, 7.4 mg vitamin E, 1.5 mg zinc, 22.5 mcg selenium

Walnut butter

Unlike other nut and seed butters, walnut butter is an excellent source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. Walnut butter also contains polyphenols, phytochemicals linked to brain health and improved blood flow.

Nutritional Value for 2 tablespoons:

220 calories, 21 g fat, 5 g protein, 2 g fibre, 2.6 g ALA (men and women require 1.6 and 1.1 g per day respectively).

Source: Leslie Beck