Almond butter is fast becoming the more preferred substitute to commercially produced roasted nut butter products like peanut butter.
But is is healthy? Is it really better than the old standby: Peanut Butter?
Pros and Cons
Almond butter is an ideal source of protein. Protein is crucial for tissue regeneration and repair. Eating protein through almond butter is especially good for athletes and sports enthusiasts as protein takes longer to digest and therefore provides a more steady source of energy during grueling trainings and workouts.
Almond butter indeed has a better nutritional profile than other nut spreads. One tablespoon of almond butter has 100 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fiber.
Opting for almond butter over peanut butter also proves advantageous due to almond butter's higher iron content. Iron promotes healthy oxygen transport – it helps you make hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that oxygenate your tissues. Like vitamin E, iron protects your cells from oxidative damage by helping to activate antioxidant enzymes in your cells. A tablespoon of almond butter contains 0.6 milligrams of iron, compared to 0.3 milligrams in a tablespoon of peanut butter. Each tablespoon of almond butter provides 8 percent of the daily iron requirements for men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, and 3 percent for women
Switching from peanut butter to almond butter can also help you boost your magnesium intake. A tablespoon of almond butter contains 45 milligrams of magnesium – 11 percent of the magnesium requirements for men and 14 percent for women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. An equivalent serving of peanut butter contains just 26 milligrams. Magnesium contributes to the function of your nervous system, facilitates muscle contraction, makes up a component of healthy bone tissue and helps support your metabolism.
Almond butter has favorable fat content is more heart-healthy and it does not contain high amounts of salt as well. You can get more omega 3 fatty acids, essential for maintaining metabolic and heart health, from almond butter than from peanut butter.
According to a Pennsylvania State University study, the fats profile of this tree nut, which is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, along with its nutrients and phytosterols, all work together to reduce the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, otherwise known as the bad cholesterol, in the blood.
Almond butter has a nutritional advantage over peanut butter due to its vitamin E contentAlmond butter contains approximately 4 milligrams of vitamin E per tablespoon – about 27 percent of your daily vitamin E requirements, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Peanut butter contains just 1 milligram of vitamin E per 1-tablespoon serving. . Vitamin E which protects your cells from oxidative damage. As an antioxidant, vitamin E can neutralize free radicals, preventing these harmful chemicals from oxidizing your DNA and proteins, which damages your cells.
Regular almond consumption appears to positively affect insulin sensitivity and so individuals with prediabetes may benefit from including almond butter in their respective diets.
Individuals looking to lose weight may be aided by eating almond butter as it has been found in a study that eating nuts, specifically an almond-enriched diet, helps in weight loss and management. It increases satiety (fullness). Purdue University researchers studied the effects of adding 360 calories of almonds to participants’ daily diets. After 10 weeks, the almond-eaters experienced no significant change in weight. The researchers concluded in a report published in a 2007 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition that the almond intake increased feelings of fullness so participants ate fewer calories at other meals. In addition, the Purdue scientists found that some of the calories from the almonds pass through your body unabsorbed, and therefore can't be stored as extra weight.
Including almonds or almond butter in your diet may help you improve your overall nutritional profile. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2004 found that people who included 52 g of almonds daily for 6 months also improved their overall nutritional choices and increased their intake of fiber, vegetable protein, unsaturated fatty acids and magnesium. Intakes of trans-fats, animal proteins, sodium, cholesterol and sugars also decreased when almonds were added to the diet. Researchers did not direct these dietary changes, rather they occurred spontaneously.
Almond butter also contains trace amounts of several important B vitamins.
Almond butter is pricier than peanut butter, almost 50% to 100% more.
Peanut butter provides more selenium – a mineral important to enzyme function – than almond butter.
Almond butter has detectable amounts of oxalates from the almonds. Oxalate, aka oxalic acid, is a naturally-occurring and reactive molecular substance found in a variety of foods, especially if the food is related to plants. That can include all seeds and nuts, most greens, many fruits, even chocolate. Our body does a great job…usually…of ridding our bodies of unneeded oxalate. You have a very good bacteria which will digest it, turn it into something less irritating, and move it out via your stools. In fact, the body does such a good job that you may be the way I was–having never heard of it or any reason to think of it. However people with kidney and gall bladder issues may have problems processing it. Too much concentration of oxalates in the human body can cause physical maladies, like painful or inflamed joints (similar to fibromyalgia or arthritis), burning urine or bowel movements, leaky gut, or all sorts of other gut problems, kidney stones i.e. oxalates combine with calcium to form these), etc. People with kidney and gall bladder issues, trouble breaking down oxalates, should consult their doctors prior to including almond butter in their respective diets.
Like other foods made with tree nuts, it can may cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to nuts. Some reactions can even cause death.
Whether you opt for almond or peanut butters, try to select minimally processed nut butters that does not contain added sugar and salt to add flavor, as well as additives that prevent oil separation. Choose varieties of peanut or almond butter made from nuts alone, with no added preservatives or additives.
While almond butter can be pricey and have some cons, it has a lot of health benefits especially with reasonable consumption.
About the Author Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA, is a well-known health, fitness, wellness author and anti aging, champion natural bodybuilder (2014 Masters Grand Prix Champion, 2015 California State Masters Champion), and a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, and anti-aging fields.
As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar's has been featured on several radio shows, TV, and in several popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex, Ironman and in several highly regarded peer reviewed scientific journals. Jeff Behar is also the CEO and founder www.MuscleMagFitness.com and www.MyBesthealthPortal.com and a Medical Commentator on exercise for The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the worlds largest medical academy for anti-aging and regenerative medicine, provides medical professionals with the latest Anti-Aging, regenerative, functional and metabolic medicine.
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