Is almond oil healthier than peanut butter?

Seemingly overnight, almond butter has pushed into peanut butter’s space on supermarket shelves, turning a small sub-category in the prepared-foods industry into a total game-changer. With people like Dr. Oz opining the nutritional benefits of almond butter, plus some recent bad press for peanut butter (increased allergens in kids, salmonella contamination, and carcinogen exposure, just to name a few), quite a few health-conscious consumers have started giving peanut butter the side eye. But is almond butter significantly better for you than peanut butter? And should peanut butter fans be worried about carcinogens?

Breaking Down Nut Butters By the Numbers

To provide a fair comparison between the two, here are the nutrition facts for one serving of  peanut butter and one serving of almond butter from two similar brands. Both contain dry-roasted almonds or dry-roasted peanuts — no other ingredients.

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (2 Tablespoons)

Almond Butter

Peanut Butter

Calories


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180

210

Total Fat

16g

17g

Saturated Fat

1g

3g


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Trans Fat

0g

0g

Cholesterol

0g

0mg

Sodium

0mg


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0mg

Potassium

170mg

230mg

Total Carb.

6g

7g

Dietary Fiber


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4g

2g

Sugars

2g

2g

Protein

7g

7g


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Vitamin A

0%

0%

Vitamin C

0%

0%

Calcium

8%


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2%

Iron

8%

4%

 

Based on this particular comparison, peanut butter is definitely the more caloric of the two. Both contain around the same amount of fat, though peanut butter has two extra grams of saturated fat (the non-heart-healthy kind). Peanut butter contains more potassium, but almond butter has more dietary fiber and less carbs (one of the main reasons it’s a staple ingredient of the Paleo diet). Almond butter also provides more calcium and iron. So from a nutritional standpoint, almond butter does edge past peanut butter.

What’s This About Carcinogens?

Another knock against peanut butter in some people’s minds is the presence of aflatoxins, which is a type of mold — and a carcinogen — found on peanuts, tree nuts, corn, oil seeds, and wheat. Because peanuts grow in the ground, it’s thought that they tend to contain more of this carcinogen. And because one study linked highly concentrated doses of aflatoxin with liver cancer in rates, there are questions about the effects of long-term ingestion of products associated with aflatoxins, like peanut butter. But according to Medline Plus, the FDA’s stance is that “occasionally eating small amounts of aflatoxin poses little risk over a lifetime.” Medline Plus also states that peanut butter is “[one] of the most rigorously tested products by [the] FDA,” which is why it recommends buying “major brands” of all nut butters.

The Most Important Consideration

Almond butter does boast a better nutritional profile than peanut butter, but whether the difference justifies calling one significantly healthier than the other is debatable. Almond butter does have more essential nutrients and slightly less saturated fat, which perhaps makes it a better choice overall. But peanut butter’s no nutritional slouch either, especially with all of that protein and potassium. Whichever one you eat, just make sure it’s the most natural kind (nothing more than nuts and salt), and opt for organic when possible. Whether you prefer almond or peanut butter, if it’s highly processed (i.e., it contains more than two ingredients), it’s probably not that great for you.