In Defense of Peanut Butter

I saw a sign on the door to my bank the other day. It stated, “No Nuts on Premises”. I thought it was a bit strange mostly because I was at a bank, intending to do banking not eating. However.

It reminded me that peanut allergies are a real thing these days. The prevalence of peanut-related allergies in children has shot up to 21 per cent since 2010 according to research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting in 2017.

Part of the peanut allergy awareness is the rise in popularity of other nut butters such as cashew and almond. These are considered by some – particularly those who follow Paleo diets - a healthier alternative to peanut butter. (As peanuts are actually legumes, they are considered to be sources of dangerous “anti-nutrients” in the Paleo world.)

According to Markham Heid, a writer for Medium’s new Health column called The Nuance, the popularity of almond and cashew butters might be nothing more than a trend. He interviewed Richard Mattes, a professor of nutrition at Purdue University, who said peanut butter may not be any less healthy than its butter cousins.

Mattes goes on to say that peanuts and tree nuts are similar when looking at their nutrients but none of the nuts are the clear winner. “Cashews are champs when it comes to iron while almonds contain high amounts of calcium, and peanuts pack the most folate,” Heid wrote. Read more here.

Writer Edith Zimmerman took the issue to the pocketbook. She noted that a 16-ounce container of unsalted peanut butter sells for $1.99 while a similarly sized container of almond butter is $5.99 at her local grocery store. She said she spends $20 a week on almond butter so may rethink her shopping list.

“Do I like my almond butter $4 more than I like peanut butter? Yes, sometimes?” she wrote.

Check out her piece here. It’s worth it for the video of the Shaker alone (if you’re interested in seeing how almonds are harvested. It’s quite something!).