THE BEST NUT AND SEED BUTTERS FOR HIGH-PROTEIN DIETS

THE BEST NUT AND SEED BUTTERS FOR HIGH-PROTEIN DIETS

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The world of nut and seed butters is so much bigger than just plain ol’ peanut butter. As a matter of fact, basically any nut or seed can be ground into a sticky and satisfying “butter” to snack on. And despite the not-so-healthy name, nut and seed butters definitely fall into the good snack category, especially for guys looking for a protein boost. Yet, choosing the right type isn’t quite as simple as opting for your favorite variety of nut. Some have more protein than others, and many include unnecessary additives.

Before purchasing any nut butter, flip it over and read the ingredients first. The purest and healthiest of nut butters contain one simple food: nuts. Any other ingredients, like salt, honey, sugar or oil, are added for flavor. If you’re watching your blood pressure or sodium intake, or just like nuts in their purest form, opt for unsalted natural nut butter. Be warned, though, it’s best to steer clear of the ones with extra honey or sugar, and low-fat nut butters are never worth it since they often contain other additives in place of the fat.

In all, there’s ample research demonstrating that nuts and their “butter” are part of a healthy diet and can help fight against cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol. Research also suggests that moderate- to low-intensity exercises actually use fat as fuel, making nut butters a smart addition to your pre-workout routine. That’s not surprising since nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fats, fiber, and protein, all of which satisfy hunger and provide long lasting energy for exercise.

And for those intense bouts of exercise, nut butters can serve as post-workout protein to refuel tired muscles and fat to appease a rumbling stomach. But the numbers do vary from nut to nut, so let’s take a look at some of the healthiest nut butters, ranked from most protein to least.

Sunflower Seed Butter

Technically made from a seed, this butter is a hit among those with nut allergies. It contains the same amount of protein as peanut and almond butter, as well as high amounts of vitamin E, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. You get them here.

Protein: 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Peanut Butter

The most popular and affordable nut butter is tied for the highest in protein (though, if we’re getting technical, peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut). Peanuts contribute a handful of vitamins and minerals, like niacin, folate, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and iron to the diet.

Protein: 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Almond Butter

Arguably the second most well known nut butter comes from almonds. And as an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, copper, phosphorous, and riboflavin, it’s no wonder many are opting for it. And for those who don’t do dairy, almonds contain the most calcium of any tree nuts, and have been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease.

Protein: 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Tahini (Paste)

Although you may not eat tahini right off the spoon, this ground sesame seed paste makes a protein-packed addition to sauces, dressings, and homemade hummus. Like the other nuts and seeds on the list, tahini contains plenty of good fats, vitamin E, fiber, B vitamins, and calcium.

Protein: 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Pistachio Butter

Although you may need to scour the health food store for this type of butter, it’s worth it because pistachios are low in calories and high in fiber (one ounce has 3 grams). They also contain antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which give them their vibrant green hue. Not to mention that a study showed that eating pistachios as a snack helped subjects lose significantly more weight when compared to those who ate pretzels in similar calorie amounts.

Protein: 6 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Cashew Butter

Cashews are a bit lower in fat and protein than other nuts, but they still contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Research suggests eating cashews can increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which contributes to a healthy heart. Ground cashews are also often used as a dairy alternative because of their creamy consistency, so the uses for this butter go well beyond a healthy take on a grade-school sandwich. You can buy it here.

Protein: 5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Walnut Butter

If you’ve never had walnut butter before, you’re missing out on rich and creamy goodness. Plus, this brain-boosting nut contains ample amounts of brain-boosting unsaturated fat, specifically the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). And interestingly, research suggests that eating walnuts may be associated with lower incidences of depression among American adults. Lenore Arab, PhD, a professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicinetold Healio that this may have to do with the, “unusual pattern of fatty acids, fiber and polyphenols” found in walnuts. You can buy it here.

Protein: 4 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

Pecan Butter

If you like pecan pie, you’ll love pecan butter. The natural flavor of the nut makes a sweet nut butter without any additives, and they are a good source of fiber, minerals, and heart-healthy phytochemicals (aka plant nutrients) which have been linked to the prevention of cancer and heart disease. You can buy it here.

Protein: 3 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons

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