You’ve heard of (and likely had) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What about almond butter and jelly? Almond butter is made from ground almonds. It’s a popular spread that provides a nutty alternative for people with peanut allergies, as well as people who enjoy the flavor of almonds.
Almond butter is made from ground, roasted almonds, which are the seeds of the Prunus dulcis tree. The trees grow pink or white flowers and bear fruit. Almonds are the stone-like pits in the centers of the fruits.
Almonds have a long history as a healthy snack and are mentioned in ancient texts, including the Bible. The trees grow in many countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the United States. In the United States, California is the only state that grows almonds.
Almond butter can be used in sandwiches, spreads, and many sweet and savory recipes. It can also be used as a dip for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Since almond butter is made from ground almonds, it has many of the same health benefits as whole almonds. Although almond butter is high in calories, it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for your health.
Some of the health benefits of almond butter include:
Heart Disease Prevention
Many other nutrients in almond butter also help improve your heart health and lower your risk for heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent irregular heart rhythms. Vitamin E may help stop plaque buildup in your arteries. L-arginine can help improve the health of the walls in your arteries.
Almond butter (unsalted) contains 60 milligrams of calcium per tablespoon, or 5% of your recommended daily allowance. Calcium is important for the health of your bones. The magnesium in almond butter also helps your body absorb calcium better.
Blood Sugar Control
Almonds can help control blood sugar and insulin levels after eating. The magnesium in almond butter can also help increase insulin sensitivity. This could help lower your risk of developing diabetes.
Lower Risk of Some Conditions
Almond butter has more vitamin E than many other nut butters. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that could help prevent diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers. Almond butter also has antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols.
Almond butter is rich in vitamin E and contains about 26% of your recommended daily allowance in a single serving. Vitamin E can help boost your immune system. Almond butter also contains omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, and L-arginine.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body needs but can’t make on its own. They play a vital role in your brain and eye health. Plant sterols help keep cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. L-arginine plays many important roles in your body, such as helping wounds heal, helping your kidneys flush out waste, and relaxing blood vessels to improve circulation.
Like other nut butters, almond butter contains a lot of healthy, unsaturated fat and a small amount of saturated fat.
The creamy spread also contains many vitamins and minerals, such as:
Nutrients per Serving
1 tablespoon of plain, unsalted almond butter (16 grams) contains:
What to Watch Out For
While almond butter has many health benefits, there are a few things to watch out for. One important thing to keep an eye on is the ingredients list. Many brands at the grocery store have added sugars or oils, which add extra calories and fat.
Many people are also allergic to tree nuts, such as almonds. Symptoms of a tree nut allergy include:
- Shortness of breath
- Itchy mouth, tongue, throat, or eyes
- Trouble swallowing
If you’re allergic to other tree nuts, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re allergic to almonds. Be careful with almond butter or avoid it until you know for certain whether you have an allergy.
Almonds (and almond butter) are also high in oxalates. If you have a history of kidney stones, or you’re at risk of developing them, you should avoid almond butter or limit how much you eat.
How to Prepare Almond Butter
You can find almond butter in most grocery stores, typically where you find peanut butter and other nut butter spreads. Many brands of almond butter contain only ground, roasted almonds. Some brands contain added salt or sugar for flavor. Some “no-stir” varieties of almond butter have added oil in them, which keeps the almond butter from separating and makes the texture smoother and more spreadable.
You can make your own almond butter at home by grinding whole, roasted almonds in a food processor or high-speed blender for several minutes. You may need to stop the blending process periodically to scrape down the sides. The longer you blend the almonds, the smoother the result will be.
You can add a pinch of salt to your almond butter for more flavor. You can also add sugar, honey, or maple syrup for sweetness. Spices—such as vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg—can also be added for additional flavor. Homemade almond butter can be stored for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
Almond butter can be used as a substitute for peanut butter on sandwiches with jelly or banana slices added for extra flavor. You can also dip apple slices or celery sticks in almond butter for a healthy snack.
There are many ways to include almond butter in your diet, such as:
- Adding almond butter to smoothies
- Mixing almond butter with soy sauce and honey for an Asian-style dipping sauce
- Making brownies or cookies with almond butter
- Stirring almond butter into oatmeal or granola