Editor's Note: Lindsay Durston contributed this piece during her internship at Athletic-Minded Traveler. She aspires to be a travel writer.
While there is something deeply gratifying about the sweet, creaminess of peanut butter (unless you lean crunchy), and the way that it often sticks to the roof of the mouth, studies demonstrate, it might be time to switch the nut. Almond butter, which also comes creamy or crunchy, offers more on a strictly nutritional basis.
Raw Almonds (courtesy of Hopkins AG)
BATTLE OF THE NUTS: The spreads compared What they share:
Both butters are rich in protein (about 7-8 grams per 2T serving), fiber and fatty acids and have the same amount of fat (16 grams) and calories (190) per 2 tablespoons. They also have about the same amount of carbohydrates.
Almond butter takes the lead: Almond butter has 26% more Vitamin E, 3% more Iron, and 7% more Calcium than peanut butter. It's higher in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and antioxidants.
What about the "fats?" This is where the almond really shines. Almond butter has 50% more monounsaturated fat than the peanut spread and about 25% less saturated fat. This is good news for anyone, and especially for those keeping an eye on cholesterol. Another important factor is that almond butter does not contain any trans fat. NONE.
On peanut butter's defense, there is a misconception that all peanut butter contains trans fat or hydrogenated oils. This is not true. You can now choose from a range of "all natural" varieties that eliminates the trans fat (and any un-natural ingredients). These varieties are made from pure peanuts with no added oils, fats, or sugars. You'll recognize natural butter by the oil separation at the top of the jar. The trans fat found in regular peanut butter is so minimal (less than 1%) that the FDA labels it as being at 0. For more information about this check our post on organic peanut butter.
One Organic PB Option
What about organic peanut butter? It's another option and it simply means that the peanuts were grown without the use of pesticides. Most grocery stores carry all three types of butters. Remember to refrigerate your natural and organic butters.
POSSIBLY THE BEST REASON TO SWITCH: Almonds are considered alkaline while peanuts are categorized as acidic.
According to some research there are benefits to consuming alkaline foods: speed up metabolism, increase energy, and prevent sickness. Almonds fall into this category. They are a powerful nut and the only nut categorized as very alkaline.
Health gurus argue that it's important to consume at least 60% alkaline-producing foods in order to maintain a balanced diet. If one's Ph levels aren't in balance the body has a hard time absorbing vitamins, minerals, and other important food nutrients. In short, Ph affects everything. In contrast acidic foods can be damaging and a variety of physical problems and diseases can be caused from acidic intake (some go as far to say that an acidic ph can cause cancer--see below caveat). Peanuts rate very high in acidity. This site provides a nice summary of low vs high acidity in foods.
CAVEAT: While there is some scientific research regarding the potential dangers of an acidic diet, it is hardly conclusive. This article by the American Institute for Cancer Research summarizes the risks and notes that what you eat certainly affects your cancer risk, BUT the acidity/alkalinity of the foods is not the factor.
How do the prices compare? There is a significant price difference (usually $3-4 bucks) between the spreads. Peanut butter is the cheaper of the two. At Trader Joe's a jar of the almond stuff costs $4.99 while regular peanut butter only costs $1.79. If you want organic it's $2.99. So at Trader Joe's you're getting a bargain. If you shop elsewhere almond butter can cost up to $13.00 a jar. Generally organic butters are more expensive. With almond butter you're paying more for the quality. And remember places like Whole Foods allow you to grind your own. Now that is fresh!
Make your own butter!
One almond butter that we love can be ordered online for $7.00 a jar. Hopkins Ag makes their almond butter fresh every day. Which one tastes better? This is a matter of preference but if you like a sweeter taste, peanut butter is likely the way to go. However, companies like Hopkins also sell almond butter with honey. It's equal to any peanut butter. We've also seen vanilla almond butter and a few other flavors.
Personally, I am partial to peanut butter. Some almond butters can be grainy and slightly bitter. But, when cooking or making smoothies, I'm now an almond butter convert. Athletic-Minded Traveler posted a smoothie recipe a while back. Give it a try.