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Food and Nutrition

Food for Thought: Decoding Nut Butters

Enara Staff
/ June 22, 2018

Nut butters are having “a moment” in the nutrition world right now. And here at Enara, we feel that it’s well deserved. Nut butters are a great source of healthy fat, protein and fiber. They are a convenient and nutrient-dense choice, particularly for those of us who lead busy, on-the-go lives while still prioritizing our health. That being said, there are two things to keep in mind when it comes to nut butter: (1) they are high in calories, so keep an eye on portion sizes; and (2) choose quality products (read on for some guidance).

It seems like every time you step in a grocery store these days, there’s a new brand or variation of nut butter available. Where do you start? Let’s start by breaking down the label.

Red Light:

  1. Sugar or any variation in the ingredients list – Watch for hidden sugar ingredients! Sugar can be disguised as “sucrose”, “dextrose”, “corn syrup”, and “evaporated cane juice”, among others.
  2. “No stir” or palm oil (or another hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil) in the ingredients list – Food companies add hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils to “no stir” products to stabilize them and prevent separation. There’s evidence that these oils may contribute to heart disease risk, so we highly recommend that you do the stirring yourself (over a sink).
  3. “Reduced fat” – Food companies reduce the fat content of nut butters by taking out the good fats and adding sugar.

Green Light:

  1. Nuts + salt in the ingredients list. That’s it!

So what about the different types of nut butter? Here’s a breakdown of the nutrition in our top choices per one tablespoon serving (note that these numbers will vary slightly by product):

Type Calories Protein Unsat. Fat Total Fat Fiber
Peanut 95 3.5 g 6.5 g 8 g 1 g
Almond 95 3.5 g 7 g 8.5 g 1.5 g
Sunflower Seed* 105 3.5 g 7 g 8 g 1 g
Cashew 95 3 g 6 g 8 g 0.5 g

*Recommended for people with nut allergies or intolerances.

Overall, we recommend that you choose a nut butter that suits your nut butter tastes while maximizing nutrition (highest in protein, fiber, unsaturated fat, and lowest in calories). Try it spread on a low carb tortilla or stirred into warm steel cut oats!

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