Rising numbers of peanut allergies over the years have created a thriving market for peanut butter alternatives. Almond butter is a popular substitute, but is it the healthier choice between the two? Let’s take a closer look at the nutrient profiles of peanut butter vs. almond butter, plus the pros and cons of choosing one over the other.
When comparing the health benefits of almond butter vs. peanut butter, it’s important to consider the ingredients first. The nutrient facts we provide in this article are based on natural nut butters made with only one ingredient — either peanuts or almonds — blended into a paste.
Some nut butters contain additional ingredients that could automatically make them less healthy than other options. Consider avoiding ones that contain sugar, corn syrup, added oils, soy, and other additives. Read the product labels before purchasing to make sure you’re getting the healthiest nut butter ingredients as possible.
7. Raw vs. Roasted
Nut butters are usually made from either roasted or raw nuts. Roasted nuts give their butters a pleasing toasted flavor. The heat of the roasting process helps kill bacteria and phytic acid that can cause digestion issues. However, due to high heat processing, roasted nuts may contain fewer nutrients than raw nuts.
Though raw nuts made into butters aren’t roasted, raw almonds grown in the US have probably been “heat-pasteurized or treated with a fumigant”, according to reporting from NPR. Pre-pasteurized peanuts or almonds could come with bacteria and other food contaminants if not purchased from a reliable source.
6. Comparing Fats and Calories
Almond butter and peanut butter are very similar in fat and calorie content, with one notable exception.
Both nut butters contain a mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, but almond butter has a bit more monounsaturated. That gives extra credit to almond butter, since monounsaturated fats are considered heart healthy. The American Heart Association (AHA) gives monounsaturated fats a thumbs up for decreasing blood levels of bad cholesterol and providing important antioxidants like vitamin E to our diet.
Peanut and almond butter calorie counts are nearly the same at close to 100 calories per tablespoon each.
5. Comparing Vitamins and Minerals
The overall nutrient contents of peanut butter and almond butter are also very similar, but almond butter has more vitamin E, magnesium, iron and calcium. In fact, almond butter provides eight times the calcium content as peanut butter. If bone health is a priority, calcium-rich almond butter might be the better choice.
Where peanut butter could be a standout is with B vitamins. Peanut butter has more niacin (B3) and B6 than almond butter. B vitamins are vital for cell metabolism, brain health and much more.
4. Nutrition Facts for Peanut Butter
Nutrition facts can vary slightly between different brands of nut butters, based on ingredients and serving size. The following facts are from the food label of an organic peanut butter brand made only with roasted peanuts.
- Serving size: 2 tablespoons
- Calories: 188
- Total Fat: 16g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Sodium: 5mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 6g
- Total Sugars: 3g
- Protein: 8g
3. Nutrition Facts for Almond Butter
The following nutrition facts are for an organic almond butter brand made only from roasted almonds.
- Serving size: 2 tablespoons
- Calories: 190
- Total Fat: 17g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 7g
- Total Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 7g
The basic nutrient contents of both the peanut butter and almond butter don’t vary by much. Referencing food labels alone, these nut butters would be considered nutritionally equal. For a fuller list of vitamins and minerals, try using a search engine tool like MyFoodData for more information on basic foods and certain brands.
2. Health Considerations for Nut Butter Fans
Allergies and sensitivities aren’t the only health considerations for those who love eating nut butters. A toxic substance called aflatoxin has been found in trace amounts in peanuts, corn and other tree nuts. Poisonous aflatoxin comes from Aspergillus fungi and can cause cancer.
The FDA regulates the amount of aflatoxin deemed safe to consume from these foods, plus the roasting process can help eliminate this chemical. However, a diet full of peanuts could still put people at risk for aflatoxin exposure. For this reason, consider varying your diet with different nut butters instead of eating peanut butter exclusively.
1. Costs and Conclusions
Almond butter and peanut butter are close competitors, but there’s a clear winner in the cost category. Peanut butter is usually cheaper, even when comparing organic brands.
Yet almond butter, with its extra calcium, antioxidants and healthy fat, might be a healthier choice by a very thin margin.
Whichever one you choose, remember to read the food labels for added ingredients and follow your doctor’s guidance about possible nut allergies when introducing nut butters into the diet for the first time.