Nut Butters – Certainly delicious, but are they good for you?

Here at CSN our huge range of nut butters are easily some of our most popular products. We stock a large range of amazing flavours and varieties to satisfy your cravings or sweet tooth. But the delicious flavours are only half the picture when it comes to understanding just why these products are so popular. The main reason that sparked the interest in nut butters is the wealth of health benefits they provide.

Gone are the days where high fat foods are viewed as “bad” for you, and now their importance in diet is truly being understood (something that sports nutritionists have been saying for a long time!). Fats are an essential nutrient in our diets, without them many bodily processes would not be able to function correctly. The play important roles in regulating heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood pressure, blood clotting and nervous system activity. Additionally, many fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K, are totally reliant on dietary fats in order for them to be absorbed and utilized by the body correctly.  Fats are also extremely important in maintaining healthy skin and hair.

The fats found in nut butters can greatly benefit heart health, reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and even lower the risk of obesity. Nut butters are particularly high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Both have been shown to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and therefore reducing the risk of any cardiovascular diseases. So, as you can see fats have received somewhat of an unwarranted bad name, when in fact they are an essential part of a healthy diet.

The higher fat content of nut butters also provides other useful benefits. They are a very calorie dense food which is useful for people looking to gain weight, as a high amount of calories can be consumed with only a small volume of food and is very popular bulking product. However, this is also beneficial for people looking to lose weight. The high fat content along with the protein and fibre content leads to a greater satiation, i.e. makes you feel fuller for longer to reduce feelings of hunger and leaving you less likely to snack.

*A special mention must be given to coconut butter. Although not strictly a nut butter, it can be used as a substitute as it provides many of the same benefits, and has various health benefits of its own. The most important being its naturally high level of medium chain triglycerides, also known as MCTs. MCTs are an excellent source of instant energy, and are not stored in the body as fat cells. They are known as glycogen sparing, as during exercise the body will preferentially use MCTs as its energy source instead of your muscle glycogen stores. And once more, our range of coconut butter is incredible diverse and supremely delicious.*

Healthy fats aren’t just the only nutrient found in high quantities in nut butters. Nut butters are also naturally high in protein, with peanut butter having the higher quantities. As most of know, protein and component amino acids provide key roles in building and maintaining lean muscle mass. Consuming adequate quantities of protein is essential for anyone who participates intense exercise, whether your goals are to build or maintain muscles mass, or even lose body fat.

The best thing about this new found excitement for the nut butters is the demand for new and exciting and delicious flavours. Here at CSN we stock a large range of different flavours and varieties from pumpkin spice, white chocolate and caramel turtle. Nutt butters can be used as a delicious spread, in shakes or smoothies, or even straight from a spoon! Who said healthy foods had to taste bad! We also stock butters made from different nut sources such as peanuts, almonds, cashews and hazelnut, all with different macronutrient profiles to suit any need. Why not pop in store to see our legendary wall of nut butters or check out online to see our entire range.

Beau Scott

BSc Sports Biomedicine and Nutrition