Nuts have always been considered beneficial for one’s health. Time and again, we have heard that they are a good source of fiber and healthy fats for the body and that they help minimize risks associated with coronary heart diseases, and even death.
It is for this very reason that nut butters have been very popular amongst those looking for high-calorie, healthy food options. Amongst the variety of nut butters available in the market, peanut butter has been the most favorite. However, many may be surprised to discover that peanuts are actually legumes, and not in fact nuts. They are just considered as nuts by almost everyone because of their visual similarity.
Maybe it is for this very reason, that a study conducted in 2019 found that health benefits generally associated with nut butters were non-existent in peanut butter. However, beneficial attributes like the reduced probability of developing cancer, heart diseases, and respiratory problems were definitely found to be linked with the consumption of whole nuts. Another study conducted in 2015 also indicated that even though including nut products in the diet results in comparatively low sugar levels, the aftermath of consuming peanut butter is not the same.
However, these studies were not conducted in a controlled environment. Therefore, other factors might have affected the results. For example, those who consumed peanut butter may also be chain smokers, or the outcomes of the experiment may actually be influenced by some other product they consumed alongside peanut butter.
When exploring the health benefits of different nuts, one thing that needs to be addressed is whether they are more nutritious in their original form, or is it okay to alter their form to nut butter for consumption.
Though it is a commonly known fact that most edible products have greater nutritional value in their original, unprocessed form, but according to Kevin Whelan, a Professor of Dietetics at King’s College London:
“……the process of turning nuts into nut butters – which involves roasting, blanching and grinding the nuts – is minimal”.
This means that the nutritional value which we get through nut butter is more or less the same as what we would get if nuts were consumed directly. In fact, scientists have discovered that smooth nut butter contains more healthy fats than the nut itself. The reason for this is that when consuming nuts, most people do not chew them properly so the cells of the product do not break down and hence, do not benefit our bodies. However, to prepare nut butter, the nuts have to be crushed, which breaks down the cells, thus releasing nutrients that our body can benefit from. It is for this very reason that smooth butter are more nutritious than crunchy ones.
However, when making the purchase decision for any nut butter, one should consider what additional products are added to it? A market survey and careful examination of nut butter on retail shelves will reveal that oils are added to most of them to blend them properly.
Thus, we conclude that nut butter excluding peanut butter has multiple health benefits but in order for us to be able to reap those benefits, it is important that we consume them in their natural form – without any added preservatives, salt, or oil.