Which Is Healthier? Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
By Kerri-Ann Jennings
Almond butter and peanut butter have a lot in common.
Both are known for being good sources of plant-based fat and protein. And both lend themselves to many culinary uses, from spreading on toast to making curry.
Yet almond butter is usually at least double the price of peanut butter and has more of a health halo than peanut butter.
Is that hefty price tag worth it or is peanut butter just as healthy as almond butter?
This article will review and compare their health benefits, drawbacks and uses to tell you which one is healthier.
What's the Difference Between Peanuts and Almonds?
Peanuts are actually a legume, members of the same plant family as beans and peas. They are seeds from pods that grow underground.
Native to South America, peanuts are grown throughout tropical and subtropical regions, including Asia, parts of Africa, Spain and the Southern U.S.
By contrast, almonds are tree nuts. They grow on trees and are more closely related to other nuts, such as walnuts and cashews.
Interestingly, 79 percent percent of the world's almond harvest comes from California, although they're also grown in Mediterranean countries and the Middle East (1).
Almonds require a lot of water to grow and also need to be pollinated by honeybees. Both of these factors raise concerns over sustainability.
In comparison, peanuts require far less water to grow and the flowers of the peanut plant pollinate themselves.
The higher price of almond butter is partially due to the resources needed to grow almonds, combined with the high demand for almonds in all forms—whole, as butter, made into almond milk and in food products.
Summary: Almonds are a tree nut, while peanuts are a legume. Almonds require more resources to grow, which mostly accounts for their high price.
Differences in Taste and Usage
It's hard to describe the difference in taste between almond butter and peanut butter without simply comparing the flavors of almonds and peanuts.
Peanut butter has a distinctively addictive smell and taste and a thick, sticky texture.
Almond butter is a bit sweeter tasting and is smoother and runnier than peanut butter.
Almond butter can be made from raw or roasted almonds, whereas peanuts are always roasted before being ground into peanut butter.
You can use the two nut butters fairly interchangeably. Both can be a spread on toast, used as a dip for fruit or added to a smoothie for extra fat and protein.
They can also be cooked into savory dishes, adding a nutty flavor and a creamy texture to stews or curries.
Almond butter's milder taste means it can be added to dishes without being as noticeable. For instance, you can use it in pesto or hummus.
On the other hand, if you're looking for the distinctive flavor of peanut butter, then almond butter won't be a direct substitute.
Summary: Almond butter and peanut butter can both be used as a dip, in sandwiches or added to savory dishes. Almond butter has a milder, sweeter flavor and peanut butter has a thicker texture.
Side-By-Side Nutrition Comparison
Both almond and peanut butter can be made with just a single ingredient.
However, some brands add extra ingredients, including salt, sweeteners, other flavors and oils.
To make it easy to compare the two, the information below is for unsalted, single-ingredient varieties.
As you can see, peanut butter and almond butter are very similar, though peanut butter gets bonus points for having slightly fewer calories and more protein.
However, almond butter delivers a higher percentage of certain nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, manganese and calcium, which are important for health.
Additionally, crunchy varieties of both almond and peanut butter have a bit more fiber than smooth versions.
Summary: Almond butter and peanut butter have similar amounts of calories, healthy fats and protein. Almond butter has higher amounts of several vitamins and minerals, giving it a slight edge.
Proven Health Benefits
In terms of general health benefits, almond butter and peanut butter are similar.
Scientific literature and research often groups peanuts into the nut category.
Regularly including peanuts, almonds and their butters in your diet may provide the following benefits:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease: Research has consistently linked eating nuts with a lower risk of heart disease. A 2014 review found that just one serving of nuts daily may lower the risk of coronary artery disease by 19 percent (4, 5, 6, 7).
- Help lower blood pressure: Nuts contain several compounds, such as magnesium and copper, that help the body better regulate blood pressure. Just a serving daily may help lower your blood pressure (8, 9, 10, 11).
- Improve cholesterol levels: Eating different kinds of nuts may help lower total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol in healthy people and those with moderately high cholesterol (12).
- Help maintain a healthy weight: Although nuts are high in calories, research has shown that eating them regularly is not associated with weight gain and is even linked to a lower risk of obesity (13, 14).
- Improve blood sugar control: Regularly eating nuts improves blood sugar control in diabetics, prediabetics and healthy individuals, likely because nuts are low in carbs and high in healthy fats and protein (15, 16, 17, 18, 19).
- Protect cell membranes: Nuts are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes from harmful free radicals. Almond butter contains more than peanut butter, but both provide a good amount (2, 3, 20).
- Lower the risk of gallstones: Several large studies have found that people who frequently eat nuts have a lower risk of gallstones. This is likely thanks to the unsaturated fat and fiber content of nuts (21, 22, 23).
Summary: Both almonds and peanuts, as well as their butters, have several health benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Why Is Almond Butter Perceived as Healthier?
Despite the marked similarities between almond butter and peanut butter, many people perceive almond butter as healthier.
There may be several reasons for that.
The primary one is likely that peanuts are legumes and almonds are tree nuts.
Legumes have a bad rap in certain circles, in part because many people feel bloated after eating them.
Another thing that's often brought up is that peanut butter contains antinutrients, such as phytic acid, which reduce the absorption of other minerals.
While this is true, almond butter also contains antinutrients.
Moreover, research increasingly suggests that antinutrients may actually have some benefits, despite their drawbacks. For instance, phytic acid is also an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of certain cancers (27, 28, 29, 30, 31).
Believe it or not, almond butter's hefty price tag may also bias some people to think almond butter is better for them than less-expensive peanut butter.
Recent research found that people believe that healthier food is more expensive. Many equate a higher price with a healthier product (32).
Lastly, some of the bias against peanut butter may simply be due to misperception.
Aflatoxins are toxic compounds produced by mold that can grow in a number of raw foods. The truth is that peanuts and almonds are equally at risk (34).
Summary: There are several reasons people may believe almond butter is better than peanut butter. However, they don't hold up well to scrutiny.
For the most part, both almond butter and peanut butter are healthy foods without many drawbacks.
However, there are a few concerns that should be addressed.
Here are the primary ones:
- Allergies: About 1 percent of people in the U.S. are allergic to peanuts and 0.5 percent are allergic to almond and other tree nuts. Both allergies can be severe and potentially life-threatening (35, 36, 37, 38).
- Slight risk of food poisoning: Every so often, there are recalls on nut butters, as there are for many foods. Both almond and peanut butters can carry aflatoxin and Salmonella.
- High in oxalates: Both almonds and peanuts are high in oxalates, a category of natural compounds that can cause kidney stones. This could be a concern for people who are prone to kidney stones (39, 40).
- Extra ingredients: Many brands add sugar, oils and other fillers to enhance taste, extend the shelf life and prevent separation of the natural oils. Look for ingredient lists with just one ingredient: peanuts or almonds.
- Spoilage: Natural nut butters will generally last five to six months if stored in the fridge. If they start to smell rancid, toss them (41).
- Cost: Natural almond butter can be up to three times more expensive per ounce than natural peanut butter.
Summary: Almond and peanut butter usually don't carry major risks, except for people with peanut and almond allergies.
The Bottom Line
Peanut butter and almond butter are both healthy choices.
Almond butter delivers slightly higher levels of vitamins and minerals, making it a slightly healthier choice.
However, both deliver the same major health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and helping keep blood sugar steady.
At the end of the day, the healthier one is the one you'll eat regularly. So choose whichever one you prefer and can afford.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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