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Tips to ensure you’re selecting a healthy spread
From peanut butter to almond butter, from Nutella to Marshmallow Fluff, the choice of spreads seems to be endless. But are all spreads created nutritionally equal?
Peanut butter is a snack many enjoyed in their childhood and continue to eat into adulthood. However, not all varieties of this classic spread pack health benefits.
Dietician Nicole Marchand says we need to be aware of what we are consuming.
“The fewer ingredients the better,” says Marchand. “Corn syrup solids, hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt, sugar, corn maltodextrin, lots of ingredients that we should try to avoid.”
It's a list of ingredients that can sometimes be hard to avoid while browsing the peanut butter aisle at the grocery store, however, there are other options out there which can be found in the natural and organic food aisles.
“Almond butter, cashew butter, soynut butter,” says Marchand.
“Maybe a pumpkin seed butter, in fact, pumpkin seeds actually contain a very high amount of poly and saturated fats, so it's a great source of omega three,” says dietitian Angela Dufour.
Plus, seed butters, like pumpkin and sun-flower, offer excellent alternatives to people who live with nut allergies.
“That's one that parents can pack in the lunch for children to bring to school,” says Marchand.
Some spreads that contain nuts are more of a treat than a healthy snack.
“Nutella is a treat to say the least, high in sugar, low in protein, it's not a replacement for peanut butter, absolutely not,” says Marchand.
“It's not actually majority hazelnut, in fact, the main ingredient in that product is sugar,” says Dufour.
If you're interested in consuming fewer calories, less salt, and more protein, Dufour and Marchand say it's important to educate yourself on the available choices. They say there is a spread for everyone.
“Almond butter actually has four times the amount of vitamin E as any of the nut butters, so a really great source of again vitamin E, for antioxidant properties, for boosting immunity,” says Dufour.
While nut butters can offer many benefits, there can always be too much of a good thing.
“The key is that portion control,” says Dufour.
“There's no doubt that all nut butters are high in calories, so you do want to watch, usually one serving of peanut butter, or almond butters are two tablespoons,” says Marchand.
Dufour says there is even a new powder-nut spread on the market called PB-2. It’s a dehydrated peanut that can be mixed with water to make a spread, or mixed with smoothies and even used in some baked goods to boost protein with fewer calories than traditional peanut butter.