Nut butter battle: Almond vs. peanut

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nut buttersIn recent years, almond butter was somehow anointed the chosen nut butter among health-conscious eaters, who smear it on their sprouted breads and gaze upon peanut butter as its low-brow relative.

But the creamy almond treat is not cheap (it's often about double the price of peanut), and when pressed, most people really can't tell you why they're willing to splurge.

So, we asked top nutritionists and health coaches to really break down the health differences between the two nut butters we're obsessed with most. (That is, unless you've already moved on to the new superfood-infused nut butters).

Which is better for you—almond or peanut? Welcome to the nut butter battle... —Lisa Elaine Held

Photo: Lovelypackage.com

nut butterMacronutrients

When it comes to the big guys—carbs, protein, and fat—almond and peanut butter are like fraternal twins. "You can see a gram difference here or there, but it doesn't really make a difference," says Pure Nutrition founder Christian Henderson, MS, RD. A single two-tablespoon serving of either is high in calories (200) but comes with lots of protein (about 7g) and healthy fats.

Some nutritionists and health coaches point to almond's slightly higher concentration of good fats, but the difference is nominal. "Almonds have a little bit less saturated fat, but I feel a little bit silly saying that, since they're so close," says SPE Certified's senior culinary nutritionist Natalia Hancock, RD.

Photo: Foodguru802.blogspot.com

peanut butterMicronutrients

Within the nitty gritty nutrients is where a difference starts to emerge between the butters.

"Almond is better for vitamin E and magnesium, which are two very important micronutrients," Henderson explains. "Vitamin E is an antioxidant and magnesium is important for bone health and your central nervous system." This is especially powerful since vitamin E is not found in a wide variety of foods.

Almond butter also has more calcium and iron than peanut.

Photo: Climaan.org

homemade peanut butter sallysbakingaddiction.comNatural and organic

No matter which nut butter you're choosing, looking out for added sugar and preservatives is a must; ingredient lists should include little more than plain old nuts. You can satisfy this requirement with either butter, but "when you go shopping for almond butter, it's almost all natural brands, you don’t see the Jiffy," says health coach and Sakara Life founder Danielle DuBoise. "It's just easier to choose a natural, no-added-sugar, no-preservatives almond butter."

And when it comes to organic, you have to be more careful with peanuts, says Henderson. "Peanuts are just one of those crops like soybeans and corn that are so overgrown and overprocessed in America. They're hard to grow, so many pesticides are often used on peanuts," she says. "If the peanut butter is not organic, you don’t want to be anywhere near it."

Photo: Sallysbakingaddiction.com

nut butters photo via flickrOther factors

Aside for nutrition facts, there are a few other factors experts consider. Peanuts crops are susceptible to fungi called aflatoxins, which are associated with an array of diseases. The FDA does regulate the presence of aflatoxins, but some say you can't be too careful. "I worry about that, so I just err on the side of caution," DuBoise reasons.

Henderson also says that she's noticed from observations in her practice that almond butter has worked better for her clients struggling with weight loss. "Peanuts just tend to be more addictive for people; almonds tend to be more filling." Peanuts also may cause more bloating, since they're technically legumes, not nuts.

Photo: Flickr.com

thai bowl with peanutsTaste and uses

Of course, since both butters can be part of a healthy diet, a lot of decisions come down to which just works better, for your taste buds or whatever you're whipping up in the kitchen. "They each have their own place," says Hancock, who works with top chefs to create flavorful, healthy meals around the country. "I think peanut butter tastes better with bananas and almond tastes better with apples."

And while almond butter works really well in smoothies, peanut butter does tend to have more culinary uses, she says. "I'll use peanut butter in a stir fry, Thai style, and I do a really great African spicy sweet potato soup with peanut butter in it that’s really delicious."

Photo: Sheknows.com


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9 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. October 4th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Are there more peanut allergies then almonds? Just curious.

  2. October 4th, 2013 at 11:22 am

    My acupuncturist told me to get off peanuts completely, saying it is very mucus-forming for the body. I have left them behind!

  3. The Peace Patch
    October 4th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Combining nuts is always fun when making your own…why not mash up peanut and almond, maybe drop in some pumpkin seeds or soynuts too, along with some spices. :)

  4. March 23rd, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Peanuts are more prone to mold, one reason why researchers say people are allergic to them in the first place. This includes the organic varieties as well. In my opinion, whatever it is worth, organic almonds/pecans/coconuts/walnuts and/or pistachios are a much better option, whether used in whole form as a snack or broken down into a nut butter.

  5. May 25th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I don’t like the taste of peanut butter. So there is my reasoning to purchase almond butter.

  6. August 21st, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I like cashew butter the best.

  7. August 22nd, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Very good, but plz also tell how to make almond butter, we in this part of the world don’t get such stuff.

  8. Sarah | Well and Full
    June 12th, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    @Shahid – To make almond butter, take about 3-4 cups raw almonds (or combine any other nuts and seeds you like) and roast them for about 10-15 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees F. Once they’ve cooled a bit, process them in a food processor for about 8-10 minutes, or until creamy. I usually like to do a combination of almonds and sunflower seeds :) You can also add sea salt but personally I like the nuts just as they are!

  9. December 21st, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I much prefer peanut butter over almond butter. I try to purchase organic/ natural when possible. Plus, almond butter is just so darned expensive. I can’t afford it.

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