Almond butter versus peanut butter. Which is the healthier choice?

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, 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 chart.

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.

Would like to see you add a

Would like to see you add a third spear to your comparison. Sunflower Butter, Trader Joe's does not have the variety as they once had in the almond butter arena. Switched to Sunflowwer butter and love it !! Please compare the nutritional values of all 3 or 2 or just Sunflower butter. Thanks

Good point. Sunflower Butter

Good point. Sunflower Butter is a worthy competitor to PB and Almond Butter from a nutritional standpoint. We will try soon and report back regarding taste! Thanks!

Here is our analysis.

2T Almond Butter Peanut Butter Sunflower Butter Powdered PB
Cal 200 200 200 45
Fat 18 17 16 1.5
Sat Fat 2 3 2 0
Fiber 4 2 4 1
Protein 7 7 7 4
Calcium 8% 2% 2% 0%
Iron 8% 4% 8% 2%

1 ounce Seeds (28 g) compared: Almonds vs. Sunflower
Almonds Sunflower
B6 2% 11%
Vit E 37% 51%
Riboflavin 17% 5%
Pantothenic Acid 1% 19%
Folate 4% 16%

Justin's used for AB & PB. Sunbutter used for Sunflower.
Link for nut comparison: http://skipthepie.org/nut-and-seed-products/nuts-almonds/compared-to/see...

Thanks all the info! I use

Thanks all the info! I use Almond and Sun Butter - occasionally use cashew butter and Tahini.

My question is about the controversy about Almonds having too much Omega-6 which can cause inflammation? I love almonds but I read and article talking about this. Omega-6 in small quantities may be ok?

Some information in this

Some information in this article is incorrect. Your body's pH has everything to do with cancer development. Sickness and cancer thrive in an acidic body. If we keep our bodies at a slightly alkaline pH, all of our defenses and energy are available for fighting off disease and the body naturally heals itself. Check out the documentary "Food Matters" if you want to learn more, it explains alkalinity and the importance of a raw food diet for preventing cancer.

So are you then an advocate

So are you then an advocate for almond butter over peanut butter due to the PH? Do you also consume alkaline water?

We are addicted to Hopkins

We are addicted to Hopkins Almond butter - you can buy it at open air farmers markets for $5.00 (instead of $7). I have bought it in Brea and Foothill Ranch at Farmers Markets. Yum. Just make sure you stir first.

the lime shake link takes me

the lime shake link takes me to a private page

Honestly, I prefer to have

Honestly, I prefer to have peanut butter for my breads and fruits, then just eat raw almonds for snacks. Raw almonds offer a much better deal than almond butters (they can often be found for $4/lb or less if you shop around). Best of both worlds, I say, and easier on the wallet!

At any rate, pure unsalted peanut butter is perfectly healthy in moderation. And really, there's no getting around the incredible satisfaction that peanuts offer. I don't think anyone should have to make a strict choice between these two wonderful foods. Go for variety.

Regarding the above post on

Regarding the above post on alkaline vs acid. Below is a link for a alkaline lime shake. I haven't tried it - yet.
I have been taking bits & pieces from PH Miracle for years. They are alkaline to the extreme. But again I just take from it what fits our lifestyle. Thought the AMT may want to try
the shake. It's a video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB0-ss3-BPU

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