If you walk into your local grocery store or health food shop you will be presented with an overwhelming amount of nut butter options. From cashew to pistachio to almond, anything that resembles a nut is creamed and sold as the healthiest PB&J alternative. 

Let’s have a look at the environmental impact of each nut, along with their respective prices and nutrition to decide which nut butter rules them all. We’ve also decided not to put the calories of each nut butter because that might be triggering to some people. 

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Peanut Butter 

Remember when over-processed peanut butter used to be the only option? Those were such simple times.  

Environmental Impact:  According to the U.S. Sustainability Alliance, peanuts are a pretty sustainable nut! They are grown in rainy areas so do not require irrigation and most farms are family-owned. The peanut industry is even actively working on its “water use management and efficiency.” The United States is the fourth largest peanut producer and first largest peanut exporter, so eating local peanut butter is incredibly easy and delicious! 

Nutrition Profile Per Tablespoon:

  • Carbs: 3g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Fat: 8g

Significant Vitamins/Minerals: Vitamin E, Vitamin B3, Manganese 

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Price: Peanut butter comes in around $4 a jar, which is by far the cheapest of all nut butter. Yay! 

Things to look out for: Peanuts are prone to a mold called Aflatoxin, which can be linked to liver cancer. However, this mold is only seen in peanuts grown and sold in developing countries. The USDA closely monitors this in American-grown peanuts so the mold has never been a problem here. Check out these two kinds of peanut butter you can buy online. 

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Almond Butter

Arguably the second more popular nut butter, almond butter is everywhere now and is the classic trendy peanut substitute. 

Environmental Impact: There’s been a lot of talk about how much water almonds use. The reality is, any amount of water almonds use is a drop in the ocean compared to the water used by the meat and dairy industry. Almond farmers have been able to reduce their water consumption by 33% in the past two decades. Almonds are also a super bee-friendly crop, so don’t buy into anti-almond propaganda! To make matters even better, California grows 81% of the world’s almonds, which means every almond you eat in the United States is most likely local! 

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Nutrition per Tablespoon:

  • Carbs: 3g
  • Protein: 3.4g
  • Fat: 9g

Significant Vitamins/Minerals: Vitamin E, Magnesium 

Price: Coming in around $10 a jar, almond butter is the second cheapest of the nut butter. It’s a little pricey but nothing to write home about. 

Things to look out for: Because of how trendy almond butter is right now, some companies are getting away with charging ridiculous prices for the same product. Try Trader Joes or have a look at all the only options before buying the first one you see! Check out these two kinds of almond butter you can buy online. 

Cashew Butter

Now we’re getting into more niche butter territory. Cashew butter is creamy and versatile. But how does it hold up when looking at the numbers? 

Environmental Impact: Peeling cashew nuts away from their surrounding fruit and skin is very labor-intensive and can be dangerous. This work is often done by underpaid women in developing countries like India. The cashew fruit skin is toxic and can burn the skin and disrupt the eyes. These women are not given the appropriate protective gear and have permanent physical damage because of the industry’s negligence. Cashews are also mainly grown in India, Vietnam, Brazil, and parts of Africa which means they most likely had to travel several thousand miles before getting to your pantry.

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Nutrition per Tablespoon:

  • Carbs: 4.4g
  • Protein: 2.8g
  • Fat: 8g

Significant Vitamins/Minerals: Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Phosphorus 

Price: Cashew butter is $15 or more a jar, making it quite the investment compared to the other creamy contenders. Yikes! 

Things to look out for: Cashew butter has the lowest protein of all nut butter, so don’t go for this spread if that’s a concern to you. Check out these two kinds of cashew butter you can buy online. 

Pistachio Butter 

Immediately recognizable for its bright green color, pistachio butter is sure to get a reaction from the little ones in your life. 

Environmental Impact: Pistachios are generally very sustainable. They don’t require as much water as other nuts and their shells can be burned to create energy. I guess they are green in more ways than one! 

Nutrition per Tablespoon:

  • Carbs: 4.5g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Fat: 7g

Significant Vitamins/Minerals: Iron, Potassium 

Price: A jar of pistachio butter will cost you $15, which seems to be the norm for more “exotic” nut butter on the market these days. 

Things to look out for: Like peanuts, pistachios in some countries are prone to Aflatoxin. As we mentioned, this is only really a concern in developing countries but just be aware of this when traveling. Check out these two kinds of pistachio butter you can buy online. 

Brazil Nut Butter 

Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium out there, but they can be incredibly toxic in larger amounts. 

Environmental Impact: Brazil nuts are an incentive for conserving the Amazon Rainforest. The trees only grow in healthy forests so have been key to keeping the flora and wildlife healthy in Peru and Bolivia! However, because Brazil nuts can only grow in tropical climates and have to be imported, they do have a higher carbon footprint. 

Nutrition per Tablespoon: 

  • Carbs: 1.23g
  • Protein: 2.2g
  • Fat: 10.86g

Significant Vitamins/Minerals: Selenium, Copper 

Price: Brazil nut butter is also around $15 a jar. 

Things to look out for: Healthline recommends you limit your Brazil nut intake to one to three nuts a day, which doesn’t sound like very much butter. Our opinion: best not to risk it and go with another nut butter alternative! Check out these two kinds of brazil butter you can buy online. 

So Which Is The Best?

Peanut butter is the ultimate butter. It’s the cheapest, the highest in protein, sustainably grown, and incredibly easy to find. Unless you have an allergy or just like getting overcharged, there is no real nutritional or environmental reason to go with an alternative nut butter. 

Trends come and go, but peanut butter is here to stay. If your favorite paleo keto health blogger gives you a long list of reasons to buy their recommended organic cashew butter over the store-bought peanut butter at the grocery store, just remember that numbers and facts speak louder than their discount code ever will. 

At the same time, if you like the taste of pistachio butter, have at it! You should be eating what tastes good to you and works with your lifestyle. We are in no position to tell you what to eat (although we do prefer if it’s vegan)! Go nuts!

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