Take five minutes out of your day with a decadent treat: nut butter slathered on…well, anything from a celery stick to a slice of whole-wheat pita. Top it off with some honey and strawberries and that’s a healthful, delicious five minutes! High in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, nut butters help protect against heart disease and keep all of your body systems functioning on optimum.
Monounsaturated Fats and Heart Health
Monounsaturated fats are fats with one double-bonded (unsaturated) carbon in the molecule. Liquid at room temp, monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil should be part of a heart-healthy diet. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol in the blood and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Harvard Medical School asserts that eating two ounces of nuts each week can significantly slash your risk of cardiovascular illness.
Nut butters made from almond, cashew, macadamia, walnut, and hazelnut, among others, are rich in nutrients like vitamin E that help the body build and maintain healthy cells. As long as you aren’t allergic to tree nuts, choose from one of the healthy nut butters below.
Walnuts, and walnut butter, have the highest concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. (They also contain high levels of omega-6s, however, so if you are looking to stabilize an out-of-control omega-6:omega-3 ratio it might be best to opt for another nut butter that won’t simultaneously increase your levels of omega-6.)
Walnut butter is also high in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that lower blood cholesterol, boost blood flow, and reduce inflammation. A study published in the journal Food and Function, reported that, when compared to nine other nuts, walnuts had the highest number of polyphenols.
Almond butter fans are quick to call winner when it comes to the benefits of almond butter. Just one ounce delivers 50% of the recommended daily value of vitamin E. Almond butter is also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. It’s the highest nut butter in fiber, while being the lowest in saturated fat.
According to researchers at the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, almonds can substantially lower heart disease risk factors when added to the diet.
Of all the nut butters, macadamia nut butter ranks highest in monounsaturated fat (84% in fact). It possesses the most favorable omega-3:omega-6 risk, being low in both essential fatty acids, and delivers all essential amino acids. Macadamia nut butter is a great source of iron, which helps transport and store oxygen as well as drive metabolism. High in copper, essential to nervous system health, and fiber, which protects against digestive ailments, macadamia nut butter ranks outstanding as a 5-minute treat.
If you’re trying to maintain a low-carb, high-protein diet, cashew butter should be your go-to. It contains all essential amino acids, which promote metabolism and help repair body tissues, and is packed with magnesium for healthy muscle and strong immune function.