Nut and seed butters and other spreads
We all know nuts are a great source of protein, fibre and essential fatty acids - and can be an important part of our diet. A good way of getting more nuts into your diet is to replace butter or margarine on bread or toast with a nut butter.
With the introduction of our new Sports nutrition section, we now list a range of nut butters in larger sizes.
Traditionally, we've all eaten peanut butter, but there is now a much greater variety of butters available, including:
- Almond butter: this butter is rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Almonds are packed with many of the important B-complex group of vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates. These vitamins function as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism. Almonds are also a rich source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium and are a good provider of vitamin E.
- Cashew nut butter: as with almonds, cashew nuts are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Cashew nuts are rich in 'heart friendly' monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and palmitoleic acids. These help to lower LDL (or 'bad cholesterol') and increase HDL (or 'good cholesterol'). Cashew nuts are an extremely rich source of minerals including manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. They also contain many essential vitamins, such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1).
- Hazelnut butter: hazelnuts are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, and full of monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acids (an essential fatty acid). These acids help to lower LDL (or 'bad cholesterol') and increase HDL (or 'good cholesterol'). Hazelnuts are an especially good source of folate (unique to nuts), which is good news for expectant mums. In addition, hazelnuts are great for accessing vitamin E and have high levels of many of the important B-complex group of vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Hazelnuts are also a rich source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
- Peanut butter: peanuts boast many health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. They are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acids, which help to lower LDL (or 'bad cholesterol') and increase HDL (or 'good cholesterol'). Peanuts contain high concentrations of polyphenolic antioxidants, primarily in p-coumaric acid; this is believed to lessen the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Peanuts are also a great source of vitamin E.
- Pecan butter: pecans are a good source of protein and of unsaturated fats such as oleic acid, as well as an excellent provider of antioxidants. They are rich in many of the phytochemical substances that may contribute to overall antioxidant activity, including the polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, as well as vitamin E, beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. Research studies have suggested that these compounds help the body remove toxic oxygen free radicals and thus protect the body from diseases such as cancers, as well as infections. Pecans are also an excellent source of vitamin E. In addition, the nuts are packed with many of the important B-complex group of vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates, as well as being excellent providers of minerals including manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
- Pumpkin butter: pumpkin seeds contain most of the B vitamins, along with vitamins C, D, E and K. They also provide the minerals calcium, potassium, niacin and phosphorus. Pumpkins are extremely high in potassium, with good amounts of beta carotene and vitamin C. In addition, they are a fine source of calcium and fibre. As well as pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil is a good source of zinc and of unsaturated fatty acids (sometimes known as 'good fats').
- Sunflower spread: sunflower seeds are a great source of potassium and phosphorus, and of vitamin B1.
- Tahini (sesame seed paste): tahini provides calcium, protein and B vitamins. It is a good source of the essential fatty acids used to help maintain healthy skin. Tahini is also a source of vitamin E, which helps to reduce the rate of ageing in body cells. Sesame seeds contain a good amount of the amino acid methionine. This is an important contributor to liver detoxification and helps with the absorption of other amino acids.
The US Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged the importance of eating nuts and approved the following qualified health claim: 'Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.'
Nut butter producers
We stock products from some great nut butter producers, including:
Raw nut butters
We also stock a number of raw products in this section.
Organic nut butters
If you're looking for organic versions of nut butters, use the organic filter to locate them.
Nut butter recipes
There some really good nut butter recipes about. Don't forget, if you can, use organic peanut butter, as conventionally grown peanuts tend to have high levels of residues.