Almond Butter vs. Sunflower Seed Butter: Which Is Better?
Almond butter is made by grinding almonds into a medium to light brown paste. It is not unusual to see jars of it sharing supermarket shelves with jars of peanut butter. Recipes often suggest almond butter as a substitute for peanut butter because it is low in fat and tastes just as delicious with its rich, sweet, nutty flavor.
According to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), almond butter is packed full of protein, dietary fiber, omega-6 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind), vitamin E, minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, and phytonutrients. It also contains the vitamins thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), and pyridoxine (B-6), and the minerals copper, iron, selenium, sodium, and zinc. It is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and it has no trans fat. The total carbohydrates per tablespoon are about 3.0 grams.
Studies show that the nutrients in almond butter help lower the risk of coronary heart disease by preventing bad low-density lipoproteins or LDL cholesterol from clogging our arteries. They also help lower and maintain blood pressure and blood sugar (which in turn lowers the risk of diabetes); aid in weight loss and weight control; remove dangerous free radicals from our cells; strengthen our immune system, bones, and teeth, and increase our energy. Almond butter provides all of those benefits with no significant side effects.
Almond butter is good anytime: breakfast, lunch or dinner. Spread it on toast, pancakes, waffles; add it to cereal; use it on sandwiches; in smoothies, sauces, dips, baked goods, and desserts; as a topping, snack, and as the already mentioned peanut butter substitute.
Varieties, Cost, and Shelf Life
Almond butter comes in raw, roasted, salt-free, smooth, and chunky varieties. Unprocessed is more nutritional than processed because high temperatures tend to destroy natural enzymes and nutrients. A 16-ounce jar of almond butter usually costs between $10 and $13 dollars, so it is expensive. Processing techniques determine whether refrigeration is necessary after opening.
Sunflower Seed Butter (aka Sun Butter)
Sunflower seed butter, also called sun butter, is not as popular as almond butter but it is gaining fans. Made from grinding roasted sunflowers seeds, it can also be used as a peanut butter substitute. According to the article Sunflower Seed Butter Health Benefits, from the healthyeating.com, it takes two cups of sunflower seeds to produce one cup of the smooth, light greenish to brown paste with mildly sweet flavor.
Sunflower seed butter is rich in protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamins B-1, -2, -3, -5, -6, and E, minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium, and phytonutrients. It also contains dietary fiber as well as the minerals copper, iron, and zinc. It is low in saturated fats and has no trans fat. Total carbohydrates per tablespoon are about 3.8 grams.
As with almond butter, the nutrients in sunflower seed butter or sun butter help reduce the risk of coronary heart and other chronic diseases. They also lower blood pressure and cholesterol; prevent inflammation; remove free radicals; strengthen bones and teeth; increase energy; aid in weight loss, weight control, the production of muscle tissues, a healthy-functioning nervous system, and thyroid gland. There are no known side effects other than allergies and perhaps weight gain from over consumption.
Sunflower seed butter, like almond butter, is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Spread it on toast, waffles, muffins, scones; add it to cereal; in sandwiches, dips, sauces, desserts, or as a topping.
Varieties, Shelf Life, and Cost
Varieties include raw, sprouted, organic, roasted, salted, and processed. A 16-ounce jar of sunflower seed butter costs between $7 and $10 dollars, so it is a bit cheaper than almond butter. It must be refrigerated once opened.
Which Is More Beneficial?
Overall, sunflower seed butter has higher quantities of B-vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fat. Almond butter has more protein and dietary fiber. Purchase, therefore, depends on what your diet requires to maintain optimum health or become healthy.
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, ARS/USDA, Sunflower Seed Butter and Almond Butter as Nutrient-Rich Alternatives to Peanut Butter, www.ars.usda.gov