The Healthiest Nuts and Nut Butters for Your Family

As a vegetarian, my cupboard is always stocked with a variety of nuts and nut butters. For omnivores and vegetarians alike, they are a quick and nutritious snack option, they are great for baking, topping dishes, or making sauces and dressings, and they have lots of health benefits—even fighting cancer and heart disease.  Nut butter also has a great protein to fiber ratio to keep you feeling full longer, and fat that's good for heart health as it can help lower cholesterol. But not all nuts and nut butters are created equal, and some may even pose a threat to your health.

Read more about nuts as a healthy snack

Peanuts, Pesticide, and Alfatoxins

One of the most well-known nuts (even though it's actually a legume), the peanut is one of the worst options when it comes to our health. Traditional peanut butter is full of GMOs and Scary Seven ingredients. Since peanuts are legumes, they grow underground instead of on trees like true nuts. This exposes them to fungus and mold and leaves them high in alfatoxins,  which can cause acute toxicity, inflammation, kidney damage, and are considered a "potent liver carcinogen." 

Peanuts are also one of the most common food allergens, possibly due to the fact that they are one of the most-sprayed crops when it comes to pesticides. Allergic reactions that can happen within one hour of exposure include swelling, a rash, hives, breathing difficulties, GI upset, and even anaphylactic shock. Many people also experience a delayed immune response which can take days to surface.

Read more about food allergies in children

The good news is that nuts and nut butters come in all sorts of varieties other than peanuts. Think beyond almond to macadamia, cashew, and hazelnut, as well as seed-based options like tahini and sunflower. Opt for natural brands made without Scary Seven ingredients or make your own. They're a little harder to stir, but you'll work up an even bigger appetite that way! And don't just stick to sandwiches when it comes to nut butters. Incorporate them into smoothies for a rich, creamy texture, add them to sliced fruit, top oatmeal, or make a savory sauce for stir fries. Tiger nuts are another great option for people with sensititivities or allergies. 

By Steph Davidson| July 11, 2017
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Steph Davidson

Steph Davidson

Steph is a writer and editor with a love of tea, books, and horror movies. Steph grew up under the impression that most meals came out of a box and had to contain some sort of animal protein. When an interest in a more environmentally friendly way of living led to her vegetarianism in 2012, she decided to teach herself how to cook. You can catch her kitchen wins (and the occasional opportunity for improvement) on Instagram @_stephinitely_.


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