Grocery shopping is no simple task and grocery shopping for healthy foods can seem nearly impossible at times. Working with clients I see that most of the confusion lies in navigating through the grocery store and picking out the healthiest options.
Lets use peanut butter for an example. A single item such as peanut butter comes in an array of different brands, types, and varieties. No wonder we are confused about nutrition and most of us dread making a weekly trip to the grocery store.
Hopefully I can help clear up some of the confusion. Lets start today by talking about nut butters:
Which type of nut butter is the healthiest?
There is not one type of nut butter that is healthiest. Each type provides nutrients and there are slight differences in nutritional composition between each type but in the whole scheme of things this is pretty irrelevant. We need to get away from thinking that one type or one food is superior to another. They are just different – different taste, texture, and nutritional composition. Remember Mother Nature doesn’t pick favorites and I don’t think we would be given so many different nuts on this planet if we were only meant to consume one particular type to be healthy.
It is more important that you know how to pick healthy nut butter than actually what type of nut butter you chose to eat. So pick one that you like that is in your budget (some can get really pricey) and don’t listen to what anyone says about one type of nut butter being superior to another.
How to pick the healthiest nut butter:
The healthiest nut butter is minimally processed and closest to its natural state. Simply follow these two steps:
Step One: Completely Ignore the Front of the Jar
I know this sounds crazy but trust me. The marketing on the front of the jar is there to sell the product and that’s all. It has absolutely no relevance in the healthfulness of the product.
Step Two: Read the Ingredients
Read the ingredient list on the back of the jar and look for a product that contains less than three ingredients and no hydrogenated oils, added sugars, or salts. A nut butter is no more than ground nuts and you should look for a product that has just that. I prefer to buy nut butters that have only one ingredient (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc). The fewer ingredients on the label means the closer the product is to its natural state and the healthier it is for you.
If you follow the first two steps you really don’t need to worry about anything else. Products with the fewest ingredients will naturally be the healthiest for you. However I have found that sodium content can vary between brands of similar nut butters. Just make sure to compare labels and opt for the brands with the lowest amount of sodium.
Some of my favorites:
Here are some of my favorite nut butters (which are also some of the healthiest). Keep an eye out though because these are definitely not the only healthy nut butters around.
190 calories, 17 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 6 g total carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 8 g protein
Ingredients: Raw Almonds
180 calories, 16 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 7 g total carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 5 g protein
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Unblanched Almonds
210 calories, 16 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 6 g total carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 8 g protein
Ingredients: Peanuts, Salt
Nature's Promise Organic Peanut Butter
180 calories, 15 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 40 mg sodium, 6 g total carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 7 g protein
Ingredients: Organic Dry Roasted Unblanched Peanuts, Salt
Sunflower Seed Butter:
200 calories, 16 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 7 g total carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 7 g protein
Ingredients: Sunflower Seed, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Salt and Natural Mixed Tocopherols to Preserve Freshness
365 Everyday Value Smooth Cashew Butter
190 calories, 15 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 5 mg sodium, 11 g total carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 5 g protein
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Cashews, Safflower Oil
I hope this clears up some of the confusion over choosing healthy nut butters. Please let me know if I didn’t answer all your questions on this topic or if there is another food you have a hard time picking at the grocery store.