Almond butter has become an increasingly popular alternative to peanut butter in recent years. Made from ground almonds, this creamy nut spread packs a nutritional punch. Almond butter contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and plant compounds that make it a smart addition to a balanced diet.
From protecting your heart to supporting weight loss, almond butter delivers a host of science-backed health benefits. This nutritious spread makes an easy and delicious way to incorporate almonds into your daily diet.
Almond Butter is Nutrient-Dense and Packed With Healthy Fats
Almond butter is made by grinding almonds into a nutty, creamy spread. Compared to peanut butter, almond butter contains less saturated fat, more monounsaturated fats, and more fiber. It provides nearly 100 calories per tablespoon, most of which come from healthy fats. The fats in almond butter are primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
A two-tablespoon serving of almond butter provides approximately 5 grams of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats help raise HDL ("good") cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Almond butter also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help maintain regular heart rhythm and healthy blood pressure levels. The high content of vitamin E in almond butter also prevents plaque buildup in the arteries.
Almond Butter is Packed With Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to healthy fats, almond butter contains an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. A single serving provides nearly 50mg of magnesium and 55mg of calcium, which is important for bone health. The magnesium in almond butter also helps your body better absorb the calcium.
Almond butter is an excellent source of vitamin E, providing nearly 4mg per tablespoon. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost the immune system and prevent cell damage. Almond butter also contains decent amounts of iron, potassium, manganese, and zinc.
Compared to peanut butter, almond butter contains more vitamin E, calcium, iron, and fiber. The variety of vitamins and minerals in almond butter make it a nutritious addition to your diet.
Almond Butter May Help Control Blood Sugar
The magnesium in almond butter plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels. Studies have found that magnesium supplements can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in people with diabetes or at risk for diabetes.
The healthy fats and fiber in almond butter also help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream after meals. This effect can help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar. People with diabetes may benefit from incorporating almond butter into their diet.
Almond Butter Contains Antioxidants That Repair Cell Damage
Almond butter is exceptionally high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps repair damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This imbalance leads to cell and tissue damage over time.
Antioxidants like vitamin E help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. The flavonoids and polyphenols found in almonds also have antioxidant effects. Consuming antioxidants from foods like almond butter may help lower the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Almond Butter Promotes Skin Health
In addition to the antioxidant vitamin E, almond butter contains several nutrients that are great for your skin. It provides copper, which aids in skin and hair pigmentation, vitamin B2, which helps maintain healthy skin; and zinc, which speeds up wound healing.
The healthy fats in almond butter also help keep skin hydrated and elastic. Applying almond butter directly to the skin is said to make an effective moisturizer. The vitamins and minerals in almond butter can help reduce skin inflammation when consumed regularly.
Almond Butter Contains Prebiotics to Support Gut Health
The fiber found in almonds is not absorbed by the body, instead it acts as a prebiotic in the digestive system. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut, helping your digestive system maintain a healthy balance of gut flora.
Having a variety of healthy gut bacteria promotes better digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also strengthens immunity, improves mood, and prevents digestive issues. Almond butter is an easy way to get prebiotic fiber into your diet for better gut health.
Almond Butter May Help With Weight Management
Although calorically dense, almond butter may aid in weight loss when eaten in moderation. The fiber and healthy fats in almond butter help you feel fuller for longer after eating. By curbing appetite and cravings, almond butter can reduce overall calorie intake and promote weight management.
However, portion control is key, as almond butter is high in calories. Limit your intake to 1-2 tablespoons per day and monitor your total calorie consumption to see results. Pair your almond butter with low-calorie foods like fruits or veggies.
Almond Butter May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Consuming almonds regularly has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. The high content of monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and L-arginine all contribute to heart health.
Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. Vitamin E prevents plaque buildup in the arteries. Plant sterols block the absorption of cholesterol. And L-arginine improves circulation. Adding almond butter to your diet can help optimize many different risk factors for heart disease.
Almond Butter Contains Compounds That Improve Brain Function
Almonds are rich in several compounds that boost brain power - vitamin E, phenolic acids, folate, and vitamin B6. Rat studies have found that repeated almond administration over 28 days significantly improves cognitive behavior.
Human studies also show that consuming almonds daily can improve memory, spatial reasoning, and quick thinking skills in the elderly. The vitamin B6 in almond butter helps the body produce neurotransmitters that are essential for communication between brain cells.
Almond Butter Provides Benefits During Pregnancy
Almond butter contains calcium, folate, and iron that pregnant women need for their health and the growth of their babies. Folate is especially critical, as it helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
The magnesium in almond butter may also help prevent preeclampsia and preterm labor. Check with your doctor about your recommended daily intake of these nutrients during pregnancy. One to two tablespoons of almond butter can help provide these beneficial nutrients.
Almond Butter Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Almond butter contains a small amount of omega-6 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation when consumed in balance with omega-3s. Omega-6s help stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory compounds in the body known as eicosanoids.
Eicosanoids help manage inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. While omega-3s have more potent anti-inflammatory effects, the omega-6s in almond butter still contribute to controlling inflammation.
How to Select the Healthiest Almond Butter
To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, choose an almond butter made with just one ingredient - almonds. Look for raw, organic almonds that have not been pasteurized or roasted at high heat. Raw almonds retain more of their natural vitamins and minerals compared to roasted almonds.
Avoid almond butter with added oils, sugars, salt, and preservatives. The simplest options are the best for getting pure almond nutrition. Once opened, store your almond butter in the fridge to preserve freshness and prevent oxidation.
Delicious and Nutritious Ways to Eat Almond Butter
Almond butter is endlessly versatile and can be easily incorporated into a healthy diet. Here are some nutritious ways to enjoy almond butter:
- Spread it on whole wheat toast or apple slices for a snack
- Add 1-2 tablespoons to smoothies for extra nutrition
- Mix it into plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon and honey
- Make homemade granola bars with oats, almond butter, raisins, and chia seeds
- Swap almond butter for peanut butter in your favorite recipes
- Use it as a dip for celery, carrots, bananas, or strawberries
- Spread it on rice cakes and top with sliced banana for a snack
- Stir it into oatmeal or overnight oats for breakfast
- Spread it inside a whole wheat pita pocket along with banana slices
- Mix it with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and pure maple syrup for a homemade chocolate hazelnut spread
Almond butter is endlessly versatile and can fit into many different diets and lifestyles. Take advantage of its stellar nutritional profile by consuming 1-2 tablespoons per day. Almond butter truly earns its status as a nutritious plant-based superfood.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does almond butter cause weight gain?
Almond butter is high in calories, but it may not directly lead to weight gain in moderate portions. The healthy fats and fiber in almond butter help increase feelings of fullness and satiety. This effect may curb overeating and decrease calorie consumption throughout the day. Those managing their weight should stick to about 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter per day. When paired with nutrient-dense foods like fruits or vegetables, almond butter can be part of a healthy diet for weight management.
How does almond butter benefit athletes?
Almond butter can support an athlete's nutritional needs in a few key ways. First, it provides a dense source of calories and energy from its fat and small amounts of carbohydrates. Second, it contains protein for building and repairing muscle. And third, it offers antioxidants like vitamin E that combat exercise-induced oxidative damage. The potassium and magnesium in almond butter are electrolytes lost through sweat, which helps maintain hydration.
Does almond butter contain lectins?
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins found in many plants, especially grains and legumes. There is little conclusive evidence that dietary lectins are harmful, but some believe they contribute to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. The good news is almonds contain very low levels of lectins compared to foods like beans, wheat, and lentils. Almond butter can be safely enjoyed in moderation as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Those with autoimmune conditions should discuss lectin intake with their healthcare providers.
How long does almond butter last when stored properly?
An unopened jar of almond butter will keep well at room temperature for several months. Always check the “best by” date for shelf life guidance. Once opened, almond butter will stay fresh for 3-6 months when stored in the refrigerator. Natural-style almond butters without added oils or preservatives tend to have a shorter shelf life. No matter what, almond butter is best consumed within several months of opening for maximum freshness and nutritional quality.
Does almond butter go well with chocolate?
Yes, almond butter makes a delicious pairing with chocolate. Its nutty flavor perfectly complements the sweetness of chocolate. Try spreading almond butter on chocolate hazelnut crackers, adding a spoonful into hot cocoa, using it as a filling in chocolate truffles, or swirling it into chocolate peanut butter. For an easy treat, stuff dates with almond butter and dip them in melted dark chocolate. Almond butter also works well baked into chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or other chocolatey treats.
Almond butter shines as a nutritional all-star, offering an array of health perks from heart health to glowing skin. Its impressive nutrient profile provides antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that promote overall wellness.
While calorically dense, almond butter can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. Choose raw, unprocessed varieties and experiment with nutritious ways to add almond butter to your snacks, meals, and recipes. Each bite packs a nutritious punch that your body and mind will thank you for.