If spooning Jif from the jar was your favorite childhood pastime and current adulthood indulgence, you’re in good company. But when it comes to nut butters, your options are far greater than choosing between smooth and chunky peanut butter.
Local grocery stores and specialty shops have almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, walnut butter, and even tahini butters to choose from—especially important for those with allergies. And, depending on the brand and your magnitude of self-control, nut and seed butters can be a healthy addition to your everyday diet.
Research suggests peanuts can reduce your risk of cardiovascular health, as can almonds. They contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that can help prevent factors of cardiovascular disease, according to another study. Overall, there’s a substantial amount of evidence that shows increased consumption of seeds and nuts can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, as well as lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.
However, as with most foods you’ll find at the grocery store, there are unhealthy versions filled with added sugar, hydrogenated oils, and other unwanted ingredients. When choosing any type of nut butter, just remember to keep it simple.
Look at the label and check that the nut or seed is the first ingredient—and anything thereafter is natural (or, best of all, there aren’t any other ingredients). We’ve done the leg work for you and rounded up the 10 healthiest nut and seed butter varieties available.
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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