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 Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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