Q: Healthy eaters have been infatuated with almond butter for a long time, but is it really better for you than peanut butter?
A: It’s a good question, since almond butter is often up to double the price of its less-trendy cousin, peanut.
I’ll give you the good news up front: both—and really all—nut butters can be part of a healthy (and OMG delicious!) diet.
Here’s how they compare.
Nuts About Nutrients
When it comes to macronutrients, almond butter and peanut butter are pretty similar. Both are high in protein and healthy fats. Peanut has slightly more protein; almond has slightly more fat. Almond is also just slightly higher in calories.
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Both contain a variety of similar vitamins and minerals, but almond has slightly more calcium and iron, two important nutrients people often need more of in their diets. Still, when you look at the nutrition labels side by side, it’s pretty much a draw.
Other Nutty Issues
There are a few other things to consider. First, peanut allergies are crazy common, to the point that some schools don’t even allow peanut butter at lunch anymore. Fewer people are allergic to almonds.
Then there are aflatoxins, carcinogens that are linked to liver cancer and are produced by a fungus that often grows on peanut crops. The US tests crops for aflatoxins and doesn’t allow them in food at a level considered dangerous, but you’ll likely still be exposed to them at very low levels if you eat PB. Still, most credentialed experts say those levels are so low they are unlikely to affect your health.
Finally, you may be concerned about environmental impact. Peanuts win on this point—producing them requires significantly less water than producing almonds.
The Bottom Line
You’ve probably noticed there’s no clear winner in this nut butter battle, but you also heard the good news at the beginning: they’re both great for your health.
If you’re worried about aflatoxins or allergies, go almond. If you’re an environmental advocate, go peanut. Or simply choose based on your flavor preference. Just remember to choose natural brands that are made with just nuts (and maybe a little salt)—no sugar, hydrogenated oils, or additives. And be careful with portion size, since both are high in calories. Otherwise, go nuts!