Say hi to Hello Joyous!
An organic, plant-based, sustainable beauty brand here to bring more joy to your day.
Back in my day (I feel old just saying that!), peanut butter sandwiches were the back-to-school food of choice. Walker still loves peanut butter and will put it on anything. But as delicious as it is, it is also the most problematic of nut butters (okay, technically, it's a legume butter). There are so many severe and potentially life-threatening peanut allergies showing up these days that most schools have banned peanuts and peanut products outright.
But leaving aside the allergy issue, peanut butter has nutritional issues as well. Like many other kid-targeted foods, popular peanut butter brands are often full of added sugar (sometimes as much as a teaspoon of sugar per serving), as well as GMO soybean oils and modified and hydrogenated palm and vegetable oils (which is where we get trans fats from). Peanuts are also particularly susceptible to aflatoxin mold, a naturally occurring toxin that can cause liver damage and has carcinogenic effects. While the FDA monitors the levels of aflatoxin in American-grown peanuts, I'd prefer my nut butters to have as few toxic molds, thanks! While aflatoxin is occasionally found on almonds, because almonds are tree nuts, their levels of this particular mold are much lower!
I've been using almond butter in my recipes for a while now, and I find it makes a great peanut butter substitute, but peanut butter does have a lot of good nutritional points (if you buy the good stuff without all the sugar and other additives), so let's see how my fave nut butter stacks up against the most popular nut butter.
Both peanut butter and almond butter have similar calorie counts, so we're going to have to dig a little deeper to figure out which is most nutritious. Besides, I want you to . . .
In terms of macronutrients, peanut butter has more protein, but almond butter has more fiber, so it's basically a draw until we get to the micronutrients. While peanut butter has slightly more B vitamins and selenium, almond butter is richer in vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are tougher to come by, and people are more likely to be deficient in iron or calcium than more B vitamins, so I think almond butter packs the more useful nutritional punch here.
Added bonus: because almonds aren't susceptible to aflatoxin mold the way peanuts are, it's way easier to grow them organically, making clean almond butter way easier to find!
Still unsure almond butter is better than peanut butter? Want me to draw you a chart? Consider it done!
Even if you're the most careful label-reader in the world, the best way to makes ure that your nut butter has nothing but the good stuff is to make it yourself. My Cinnamon Almond Butter is just that: almonds, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Almonds are so flavourful on their own that you really don't need anything else!
Almond butter is the perfect swap in pretty much any recipe whre you would normally use peanut butter, but one of my favourite ways to use almond butter is to pair it with chocolate! Check out my Chocolate Almond Butter Milkshake, my Strawberry Almond Butter Chocolate Cups, or my classicGluten-Free Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies for some almond-spiration!
What healthier swaps have you made for favourite childhood foods? Share them with me in the comments below!
Interesting! In Australia we are starting to be encouraged to give our babies peanut butter as soon as possible so that they don't develop a peanut allergy so my little one eats it all the time. I can't say that I'm a fan of the taste of almond butter! Maybe I need to try making it myself. Thanks for the info!Reply
Melanie: I never used to like almond butter. Until one day I ran out of peanut butter and natural almond butter was the only nut butter I had on hand. After about a week of using only almond butter, I come to LOVE it. So maybe if you give it another try or two, you'll acquire the taste for it :)
Great article thanks so much for re-enforcing why I have switched to almond butter. Since going wheat free this past year I put my 2 tablespoons of almond (crunchy) butter on a sliced apple while riding the stationery bike. It's a great go to snack when hungry & wanting something sweet/salty. So looking forward to your new book arriving this winter. DebReply
The big drawback of almond butter for me is that's about 3 times more expensive than peanut butter.Reply
Homemade almond butter could be cheaper, I assume. Does anybody know how homemade butter stand vs. storebought one - pricewise?Reply
I love almond butter! I mean, it's one of my true food loves. But something that we aren't discussing here is how the demand for almonds (almond butter, milk, flour, etc. etc.) is truly ravaging the ecosystem of central California. There isn't enough water, enough soil nutrients, enough land at the end of the day to keep up with the demand for almonds in North America. I have a good friend who works in R&D for White Wave (the company behind all the Silk products) and his days are consumed by one thing these days: sourcing sufficient quantities of almonds to meet current production demands as well as future/projected demands. It's insane. So I still consume almond products of course, but knowing that I'm contributing to central California's agricultural and environmental hardships isn't something I take lightly.Reply
Thanks for sharing, Ashley. Sustainability is definitely an issue which is why I like to switch up my nut butters & milks all the time! Cashew, sunflower seed, tahini and pumpkin seed butters are in my rotation as well as coconut, hemp and cashew milks. It's better for the environment and gives you a better variety of nutrients. I always encourage people to switch it up :) Heather- Joyous Health Team
I love peanut butter and im excited to try almond butter too. Have you ever made/had cashew butter? I have made it at home few times and i loveee it! I don't know the nutritional value of it, but i guess it is also better than peanut butter?!Reply
Hey Sandra. Cashews are great, Joy uses them in quite a few of her recipes! Their nutritional value is similar to almonds, but almonds have a bigger dose of Omega 3's. I recommend switching up your nuts butters frequently. It's tasty and gives you a wider variety of nutrients :) Heather- Joyous Health Team
Almond butter is definitely better, but in terms of price... peanut butter is much more affordable. I love almond butter so much that when I have it (either through making it or buying it), I usually consume it within a couple of days!!Reply
What's the ratio to make your homemade almond butter?Reply
Hey Amy! You can find Joy's homemade almond butter recipe here: https://www.joyoushealth.com/22057-blog-cinnamon-almond-butter-recipe Rachel - Joyous Health Team
Thank you for this break down! I think one of the biggest barriers for people when choosing what nut butter to buy. It's hard to pay $10 for a jar almond butter when you can pick up a jar of peanut butter (even all-natural or organic) for less than half the price.Reply
Hey Heidi, I'm happy to hear it was helpful for you! I totally get where you're coming from, especially because many people enjoy seeking out sales. But a good rule of thumb is to think of it in terms of quality. Sure, peanut butter might be the cheaper option, but you're paying for the amount of nutrition offered in it (which is lower when compared to almond butter). I hope that helps! Rachel - Joyous Health Team
Is there a substitute for almonds? Almonds come in high on my naturopathic food testing so I'm looking for a substituteReply
Hey Amanda, Cashew or sunflower butter would be a great alternative! Rachel - Joyous Health Team