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Are Nut Butters as Healthy as Nuts?

Are Nut Butters as Healthy as Nuts?

Pure nut butters can provide essential nutrients to prevent disease.

People get a little nutty about peanut butter, but they have a point. Nuts and pure nut butters made from nothing but peanuts (we know it’s a legume, but for this discussion that may be close enough), walnuts, almonds, cashews and/or hazelnuts are packed with heart-loving poly- and monounsaturated fats and nutrients, including protein, iron, calcium and potassium. One study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found eating peanuts and tree nuts two or more times a week and walnuts at least once a week was associated with a 13 to 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and up to a 23 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

But not all nut butters are healthy options—something the Wu-Tang Clan expressed in their rap lyrics, “Don't eat Skippy, Jif or Peter Pan peanut butter.” Their lyrics called out brands that, among their diverse offerings, contain heart-damaging trans fats/hydrogenated palm, cottonseed and soy oils and added sugar/honey/artificial sweeteners. Stick with those that are made with nothing but nuts (and maybe water). And for your PB&J sandwich, forget artificially sweetened jellies and jams. Go for preserves made with 100 percent pure fruits, spread on 100 percent whole grain bread.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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