Nutrition

Which Nut/Seed Butter is the Healthiest? (for Vegan Diets)

There are a LOT of different types of nut & seed butters out there. Peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, walnut, sunflower seed, tahini… all with their unique uses.

I got a question on my Instagram asking:

Which nut butter is the healthiest?

First, although there’s no definitive answer to this because of how many factors are involved, I’m answering this based on a few nutrients that are particularly important for vegans (and vegetarians).

Vegan diets, for example, tend to naturally have quite a lot of B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, fiber, etc., so although articles aimed at omnivores might focus on “healthiest” in terms of those types of nutrients, I’ll be looking at nutrients that 1) are most likely to make a difference on a vegan diet, and 2) vary significantly between different nut butters:

  1. Zinc: One of the few nutrients that vegan diets typically provide substantially less of. It’s important for immune functioning, skin health & acne prevention, and digestion, to name just a few things.
  2. Iron: The other main nutrient that vegan diets often get less of. It’s especially important for women to get enough, to avoid anemia.
  3. Magnesium: 50% of the US population is actually magnesium deficient1. Having low magnesium can cause anxiety, poor sleep, muscle twitches, and more. 
  4. Calcium: Although not as pressing of an issue as the media and milk industry would have you believe, low calcium intakes have been linked to osteoporosis.
  5. Vitamin E: Especially important for your brain and nerves! Studies show that people who eat more vitamin E have less damaged white matter in their brain as they age2.

I also included omega 3, fiber, and protein in the table below in case you’re curious!

I’ve bolded the nut/seed butter that wins in each nutrient category, and below I’ll go over which I think are the overall winners.

All of these values assume that each butter is made JUST out of the nut/seed, without any added oils or anything. The amounts below are per 300 calories.

Nut/seed butterZinc (mg)Iron (mg)Calcium (mg)Magnesium (mg)Omega 3 (g)Vitamin E (mg)Protein (g)Fiber (g)
Cashew33.52015900.5102
Hazelnut1.22.2557807.274.5
Sunflower2.62.740167018114.5
Tahini2.34.5215480.208.54.7
Walnut1.51.345734.20.373
Almond1.61.7170136012105
Peanut1.40.8309102.512.54.3
Per 300 calories; values are from the Cronometer.com database

Based on being consistently high across multiple of these nutrients, the winners are…

Tahini and Sunflower Seed Butter

And the runner ups are cashew butter (also high in a lot of things) and walnut butter (for the omega 3).

For a breakdown of how each one stacks up versus the others:

  • Cashew butter: High in zinc, iron, magnesium, and protein
  • Hazelnut: High in vitamin E and fiber
  • Sunflower seed: Very high in vitamin E, high in zinc, iron, magnesium, protein, and fiber
  • Tahini: Very high in iron and calcium, high in zinc and fiber
  • Walnut: Very high in omega 3; in fact it’s the only one that has a substantial amount
  • Almond: High in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, protein and fiber
  • Peanut: High in magnesium and protein

If you already know you’re missing a certain nutrient (like iron for example) based on blood tests or diet tracking, then the healthiest nut butter for you is the one that fills in that need the most! And of course, the best nut butter is the one you enjoy the most, since they’re ALL a healthy part of any diet.

Are there any other nut/seed butters you’re curious about?

Recipes

Beefy Vegan Gravy Recipe (for Biscuits)

Over the summer, I moved to the South after living in California all my life. To celebrate in the months before moving, I had fun experimenting with vegan Southern food–and my husband’s and my favorite dish that came out of that was this gravy with biscuits.

This gravy was a labor of love, but we sacrificed and ate about 4 test batches of it over the months as I developed the recipe. 😉 Through experimentation I’ve found that it should work with any type of vegan beef, but our favorite version is with Impossible, or a mix of Beyond and Impossible meat.

I use Minimalist Baker’s vegan biscuit recipe to serve this with, and they went perfectly!

Makes enough to generously cover ~15 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp vegan butter
  • 7 tbsp flour
  • 3/4lb vegan beef (= 3 Beyond burger patties, or 1 Impossible pack)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp vegan chick’n bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon’s)
  • 4 cups unsweetened cashew milk or other neutral non-dairy milk*
  • 3 tsp mushroom umami seasoning**
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste
*This definitely tastes best with cashew milk, but soy or almond would likely work as well. I don’t recommend coconut milk.
**OR powdered mushroom OR 1/2c finely chopped or puréed mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Make a roux: add the butter and flour to a pan over medium heat, and stir together as the butter melts. When the mixture starts to turn golden brown, add the milk and whisk well.
  2. Simmer 10-15 minutes over low-medium heat, whisking occasionally, until milk has thickened substantially.
  3. While the milk mixture is simmering, sauté the vegan beef and onions (and diced mushrooms, if using) together until the beef is about 70% of the way cooked–it will be slightly pink still.
  4. Add the beef and onions to the pot with the milk. Add seasonings, and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Serve over your favorite biscuit recipe, mashed potatoes, or even noodles for a stroganoff feel. It keeps great in the fridge too!

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: 10 Ways to Lose Weight WITHOUT Diets, Calorie Restriction, or Rules | Psychological Strategies

In my last video, I used scientific studies to explain why going on a diet or having a strict exercise routine usually backfires and causes binge eating + weight gain. In today’s follow-up video, I give 10 cognitive strategies to reach your weight loss and fitness goals in a way that works WITH your body and psychology, not against them.

Weight loss and fitness CAN be enjoyable and pretty effortless, rather than a chore you have to force yourself to do or a set of rules you have to stick to. You just need the right mindset and strategies.

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

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Links mentioned in the video:

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