So Many “Butters” Out There – How To Know If Yours Is Safe
All it takes to see if a nut/bean/seed butter is toxic is one simple thing – read the ingredients! These butters should have 1 (at the most two ingredients). That’s it. Period. Flip over all the major brands of nut/seed/bean butters it’s common to find hydrogenated oils (soybean and cottonseed) or palm oil or a host of other ingredients, which are added to prevent the natural oil separation that occurs and to enhance flavor. While this convenience may look nice on the shelf, these heavily processed and refined oils are not good for your body or health!Its also VERY common find sugar added to nut/seed/bean butters. Since you are already, more than likely, eating too much sugar as is, you want to avoid any an all added sugar. If you are eating nut/seed/bean butters on a regular basis I encourage you to only choose organic, non-goo raw butters that is either unsweetened and only those sweetened with coconut sugar as a “once in a blue moon desert” – or on your recovery days only! Don’t forget, it’s REALLY easy to make your own nut/seed butters – you simply need a food processor and some salt! (More below on that)
What To Avoid 100%: “No Stir” Nut/Seed/Bean Butters (IE most traditional and conventional)
While Barney Butter, Justin’s, and Jif Almond Butter might sound healthier, note they also add oils to their butters so that stirring isn’t required (crazy, right?). The oil in all nut/seed/bean butters naturally separates over time and that is why you have to stir it once opened. This can be messy so most manufactures add other ingredients to prevent this from happening in the jar while the product sits on the shelf (often for months before it hits your counter).Insider trick:store nut/seed/bean butters unopened upside down in your pantry. When you’re ready to open and use it, it is much easier to mix because the oils have largely distributed themselves through the butter and only a small amount settles at the bottom of the jar, instead of the top. PS: regardless of what the label says make sure to store the opened jar in your fridge!
“Natural” isn’t good enough – Only Buy 100% Organic, NON-GMO
Some brands (Trader Joe’s, Kirkland, Adams, Smucker’s, Crazy Richards etc) make nut/bean butters with only simple ingredients, but they are not certified organic. It’s very important to choose organic nut butter because conventional nuts and peanuts are known to be heavily treated with synthetic pesticides and fungicides. Especially when it comes to peanuts because they are a bean (not technically a nut) and their pods grow underground, which allows pesticides to be more readily absorbed and concentrated!
According to FoodBabe.com peanuts are often rotated with cottonseed crops (the world’s most pesticide-ridden crop) so the soil they are grown in is heavily contaminated. Conventional almonds and peanuts can be contaminated with Piperonyl Butoxide a pesticide ingredient that is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and linked to liver damage. Conventional almonds can also be contaminated with Chlorpyrifos, a controversial pesticide which is a neurotoxin. Glyphosate (Roundup) herbicideis used on almost all conventional peanuts and nuts which is known to induce cancer. Additionally, almost all butters are not usually not tested for chemicals, but residues of glyphosate have been found in various brains (Skippy and Jif).
The Issue I have With Peanut Butter (Bean Butter)
Even if you find a 100% organic, raw, 1 ingredient non-GMO peanut butter (which I guarantee you won’t find anywhere for sale) peanuts are often contaminated with Aspergillus flavus, a type of mold which produces the cancerous toxin known as aflatoxin. Roasting peanuts prohibits some production of aflatoxin and may also reduce the aflatoxin content but again it is found in a lot of peanut butters and there are no regulations by the FDA or food manufactures to ensure it’sat a safe amount (after all, what is the allowable limit for a cancer causing ingredient – NONE!)As mentioned, its impossible to find pure, raw, non roasted peanut butter – so that is why I recommend you avoid all peanut butters (except the ones you make yourself with raw peanuts).
Raw and Organic Is The Best When It Comes To Nut/Seed Butters
There are several organic nut/seed brands with one ingredient (which is good), but they are almost always made with roasted nuts instead of “raw” nuts. If it doesn’t specifically say the nuts are “Raw” on the label, it is safe to assume the nuts are roasted. While roasted nut butters are tasty, raw butters are much better for you and your health. According to FoodBabe.comroastingnuts/seeds can:
•Damage the healthy fats that are found in nuts. One of the greatest health benefits of nuts are the healthy polyunsaturated fats they contain, so you don’t want those destroyed! When nuts are roasted at high temperature or for a long time these fats can oxidize, a process that generates free radicals. Free radicals are renegade molecules that damage cells in the body.
•Are not usually roasted but rather fried in oils. These oils (usually canola) end up in the finished product and are extremely toxic
•Contain fewer antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin E which are prevalent in almonds.
•Contain harmful substances like acrylamide, which is linked to cancer due to the roasting process at high temperatures.
How To Find The Healthiest Nut/Bean Butter
- Check the ingredients: It should only contains nuts/seeds (maybe + sea salt)
- Is it certified organic, non-GMO? Look for the USDA organic seal on the label. Look for the Non-GMO Verified Logo
- Are the nuts/seeds/beans raw (not roasted), with the exception of peanut butter (ie no one sells raw peanut butter – you need to make that). The jar itself will say “RAW”
- Make them yourself! Simply take the raw nuts and or seeds, put them in a food processor, sprinkle a small amount of salt and pulse/run until smooth.
You can find raw, organic nuts, seeds and peanuts at nuts.com