With a son who’s allergic to peanuts, my family had to make the switch from traditional peanut butter to almond butter a long time ago.
This was done out of necessity, not for the sake of improving anyone’s diet.
I have to admit, it took me a while to get on board with almond butter and for the longest time, I chose abstinence over eating what I considered to be a sub-par nut butter sandwich (or on toast, as I prefer it).
But through the years, after making countless almond butter and jelly sandwiches for my son, I started to appreciate its flavor more and more.
Fast forward to current day and I downright enjoy almond butter – I even find myself eating almond butter on toast with honey a few times a week on purpose.
As I was preparing myself this meal the other day, I started wondering whether almond butter was actually healthy or not (not that the answer would necessarily affect my eating habits), so I figured I should do a little digging.
And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share my findings…
Is Almond Butter Healthy?
Ok, just like peanut butter, almond butter comes in different forms.
Some almond butters come with oil and sugar (this is the only kind I eat because it has the closest consistency to smooth peanut butter), others only oil.
For you purists out there, you can even find almond butters that are literally just smashed almonds – no oil or anything else mixed in there.
This stuff is a little too hardcore for me, but it’s still almond butter (kinda).
My point is, the nutritional info and overall healthiness of different almond butters vary.
Plus, different brands may use differing amounts of sugar and oils, which can vary the nutritional values between similar styles of almond butter.
And to make things even more complicated, we all have differing opinions on what we consider to be “healthy” in the first place.
I think it makes the most sense to go over the nutritional data for almond butter in general and then take it from there.
Our almond butter of choice is “Barney Butter” Smooth – it tastes good, but more importantly is made in a peanut-free facility, which, surprisingly, isn’t the norm.
A lot of almond butters are processed in facilities that also process peanuts and other tree nuts.
Which kinda defeats the point, considering a lot of families eat almond butter because of peanut allergies…
Anyway, here’s the nutritional info for 2 Tbsp. of Barney Butter:
- Calories: 180
- Total fat: 15 g (24% DV)
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 100 mg (3% DV)
- Total carbs: 8 g (3% DV)
- Fiber: 3 g (14% DV)
- Total sugars: 3 g (includes 1 g added sugars)
- Protein: 6 g (6% DV)
Ok, so that’s the stuff from the back of the jar, but it turns out almonds are packed with a lot of other beneficial nutrients that are good for us.
And since almonds are the number 1 ingredient in almond butter, that means almond butter also has those same nutrients.
Monounsaturated fats- these are the “good” fats because they help lower the bad cholesterol levels (LDLs) in our body, while increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDLs).
Omega-3 fatty acids- almond butter is a good source of omega-3s, which help keep our hearts working properly, as well as pretty much every other system in our bodies.
Calcium- 1 serving of Barney Butter has 70 mg (8% DV) of calcium, which is great for our bones and teeth, but it’s also important for proper heart function.
Magnesium- a tbsp of most almond butters contains about 45 mg of magnesium, a nutrient important for a lot of functions in the body, including muscle contraction and nerve function, as well as helping control blood sugar levels.
Vitamin E- almond butter is especially high in Vitamin E (~26% DV), which is an antioxidant that helps strengthen your immune system.
Potassium- 1 serving of almond butter has around 190 mg (4% DV) of this important mineral, which helps regulate heart function, blood pressure, and the processes of many other internal organs.
Iron- each tbsp of your average almond butter has about 0.6 mg of iron in it (8% DV for men). Iron is a mineral crucial to help our bodies produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that allow them to carry oxygen throughout our bodies.
I know I’m probably missing a bunch of other nutrients and minerals here, but I think we all get the point – almond butter has a lot of good stuff in it (you can check out webmd for more great info).
Mostly because almonds are really healthy for us.
So to answer my original question, I would say yes, almond butter is pretty darn healthy, based on the fact that it’s high in monounsaturated fats, high in protein, high in fiber, and comes with a ton of beneficial minerals and nutrients.
But, if you eat the kind of almond butter I eat, then it has added sugars too.
Barney Butter, my almond butter of choice, only has 1 g of added sugars per serving, which isn’t too bad, but you certainly have to watch out for added sugars.
Other brands might be packing more.
I’ve always liked the flavor of almonds, so when we had to make the switch from peanut butter to almond butter, it wasn’t necessarily the flavor that bothered me – it was the texture.
Almond butters tend to be a lot drier.
Even the Barney Butter that I like today tends to be a lot drier than your average creamy peanut butter.
The oil helps of course, but you have to stir it up to mix it in sometimes and it’s just not the same.
But once you get used to it, it’s not that bad.
And like I said at the beginning, I actually enjoy almond butter now – so much to the point where I don’t really miss peanut butter anymore.
Well, I don’t miss peanut butter sandwiches anymore – I still miss peanuts and peanut butter in candy.
Reese cups…Snickers…Reese cups…
Anyway, knowing that almond butter is pretty healthy certainly helps.
When compared to peanut butter, almond butter packs a lot more Vitamin E, iron, and calcium. It also has significantly more monounsaturated fats and fiber.
The key is just keeping an eye on those sugar levels and try to find a brand that doesn’t add too much.
Also, for the folks out there with allergies, check your almond butter to see if it’s processed in a factory that process other nuts – a lot of them are!
We chose Barney Butter specifically because it’s made in a peanut-free facility – we just got lucky that it tastes really good too.
All things considered, I think it’s fair to consider almond butter a healthy food (especially if you eat the stuff that doesn’t have oil or sugar in it).
Here’s a free almond butter “recipe” for your enjoyment:
- Toast a piece of multi-grain bread (Mike’s Killer Bread highly recommended)
- Spread with a generous serving of almond butter
- Drizzle generously with your favorite honey