While you more than likely have heard of peanut butter, chances are you are not familiar with other similar products, such as almond, brazil nut, and cashew butter. While these products may seem exotic, they are actually quite similar to the peanut butter that is more than likely sitting on your shelves. Before using these butters, it is important to understand how they are made, and how nutritionally sound they are for your family.
How the Butters Are Made
While the types of nuts used to create these different butters may vary, the methods in which they are created are all typically the same. Butters are made by grinding the nuts into paste. The paste is then heated to get a smoother, more buttery texture and appearance. While peanut butter originated in the United States, the idea soon spread to other nations, where their local nuts where treated in the same manner to create almond, brazil, and cashew butters.
Nutritional Quality of the Butters
Before we begin to discuss how the different types of butters can be used, it is important to understand how they can affect our diets. One of the primary nutrients found in these butters is protein. Protein is essential for a number of different reasons. First, protein helps to keep our nails and hair shiny and healthy. But protein isn’t only important for cosmetic reasons. Protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Without muscles, we would experience a very difficult time performing our activities of daily living such as walking, lifting, and pushing objects in our environment. Muscles are important as we grow older, too. Research has found that individuals with a high amount of muscles mass relative to others their age are less likely to experience falls. This results in fewer broken and fractured bones, which can potentially lead to death.
While these butters are high in protein, they are, also, unfortunately high in fat. Unlike protein and carbohydrates, which each contain four calories per gram, fat contains nine calories per gram, making it twice as calorically dense. Eating foods that contain high amounts of fat, therefore, can be to blame for the development of obesity. On the bright side, the fat found in these butters is unsaturated fat. Unlike saturated fat, which typically is found in meat sources and has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, unsaturated fat can actually help in the fight against a number of serious chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even some kinds of cancer.
Uses for the Butters
Peanut and other butters aer most often used as a substitute for meat, and therefore are spread between bread and eaten in sandwiches. However, in recent years these butters have become more common in sauces, desserts, and even some types of salads. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different uses for the butters in your cupboard. You may just come up with the new, greatest recipe ever!