Are Nut Butters Healthy?
Nut butters are a staple of many households, enjoyed as a breakfast option, a treat, a post workout snack, or an ingredient to add depth and flavour to cooking. Back in the days when markets were still going ahead, (remember those?) I was often asked, 'are nut butters healthy?'
I'm a firm believer that anything in moderation can be good for you. Eating should be a pleasurable experience, we want to enjoy the foods we consume completely guilt free. For many I think the main concern tends to be that Nuts are quite high in fat. Luckily not all fats are made equal and some are actually beneficial to our bodies.
The highest percentage of fat in nuts is unsaturated fat. These are the fats that are liquid at room temperature, (they tend to show up in your jar of natural and un-processed nut butters where separation occurs and the nut oils sit on top of the butter. A really good stir upon opening sorts that back out though!) Peanuts, almonds hazelnuts and cashews tend to be high in monounsaturated fats. They also are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which the body cannot make by itself. Omega 3 can improve mental health and can also play a part in reducing the risk of heart disease.
As well as the essential fatty acids, nuts are also a good source of B vitamins which are great for elevating the mood, supporting adrenal function and strenthening the nervous system. B vitamins are really great for maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails.
Almonds, peanuts and cashews are also are also a good source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect us from premature aging. It also helps protect the cardiovascular system, promoting heart health and can have anti-cancer properties. Vitamin E can also promote reproductive health and regulate fertility.
There is also a great mix of minerals in nuts, For instance, cashews and almonds are a good source of calcium which helps to strengthen and support the skeletal system, nuts are also a good source of chromium which helps to balance blood sugars and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Almonds peanuts and hazelnuts are good sources of potassium, which helps to regulate metabolism and maintain correct water balance in the body.
Overall, when consumed in moderation, as part of a healthy balanced diet, then the humble little nut is a healthy little asset to have. Adding a few spoons of nut butter to a curry can add a depth and richness of flavour that you may be missing in a vegan recipe. It makes a great addition to granola recipes or add to smoothies to give an additional protein boost to breakfast. I love peanut butter in my smoothie with a good heling of maca and cacao for an extra mood and energy elevating boost.