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Peanuts or almonds? Peanut butter vs. almond butter? The ultimate showdown. How are they different, and which is better for you?
Peanuts and peanut butter have ruled for years when it comes to brand recognition. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, roasted peanuts at sports games. But ever since almond butter started taking off in popularity, many have wondered, how do these two seemingly similar foods stack up?
Well, as we’re going to explain, even though they don’t technically belong in the same category (one is a nut and one is not), they are actually remarkably similar! That being said, there are some key differences worth pointing out. Read on to find out just how different, and also maybe complimentary, these two foods are.
Nutritional Benefits of Peanuts and Almonds
So, which nut is healthier for you, and which one should you focus on eating more of? On the surface, there doesn’t actually appear to be much of a difference, but if you dig into some of the details, you’ll be able to find some differences. That being said, there isn’t a clear cut winner when it comes to nutritional value.
Nutritional Benefits of Peanuts
The first thing you might have noticed is that we used the words “these two foods” above instead of “these two nuts.” That’s because peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all! They belong in the legume family, with beans and soy. From a macronutrient standpoint, a one ounce serving of peanuts contains 166 calories, 2 grams of fiber, with about 7 grams of protein per serving. Peanuts contain 14 grams of fat per serving, mostly from unsaturated fats.
Nutritional Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are indeed nuts and not legumes, but their nutritional value is quite similar to that of peanuts. Again, a serving of almonds is one ounce, and they contain 170 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per serving and 15 grams of fat. Only pumpkin seeds can exceed that number with 8.5 grams of protein per serving.
In other words, the basic nutrient profiles are basically the same.
From a micronutrient standpoint, both nuts contain roughly the same micronutrients but just in different amounts. And in this case, the differences can actually be quite significant.
For example, almonds contain three times the amount of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, as peanuts. Almonds also have twice as much iron and five times as much calcium than peanuts.
However, peanuts rule the roost when it comes to B vitamins, including folate. Peanuts have twice the folate and 4 times the niacin as almonds do.
Interestingly here, the micronutrient profiles of these foods seem to be almost complimentary. What you might not get in high amounts in one food, you’ll likely find in abundance in the other.
Health Benefits of Peanuts and Almonds
Despite being maligned in favor of almonds recently, peanuts actually have some phenomenal health benefits.
Health Benefits of Peanuts
Here are a few of the health benefits of peanuts:
- Peanuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fats. These fats help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
- As mentioned above, peanuts are loaded with nutrients such as folate, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, potassium and more.
- Peanuts are high in protein.
- Peanuts actually contain a good source of resveratrol, which has been shown to protect against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and even viral infections.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are no slouch in the health benefits department either. Some of the health benefits of almonds include:
- Almonds are loaded with fiber, which helps digestion overall.
- Almonds may boost the immune system.
- Almonds are a great source of phosphorus, which strengthens bones and teeth.
- Almonds are naturally anti-inflammatory due to the presence of linoleic and linolenic fatty acids.
- Almonds are high in potassium which can help regulate blood pressure.
Adding Nuts to Your Daily Routine
Did you know that the easiest way to add nuts into your daily routine is to put trail mix into your bag? You can eat it as a healthy snack or combine with your morning yogurt. Convenient packaging allows you to easily grab it on the go.
You can also turn your nuts into a dessert with chocolate-covered or yogurt-covered options. How can you forget about such sweet snacks? If you are cutting down on sugar, there are sugar-free positions as well.
Buying and Storing Peanuts and Almonds
It’s important to look at quality and details when deciding which almonds or peanuts to buy. Not all products on the market are created equally and you can run into some trouble if you don’t look closely. There are some general best practices of things to look for when you’re looking for almonds or peanuts to buy.
Following these guidelines will serve you well:
- Because of the high-fat content in almonds and peanuts, they can quickly turn rancid if you don’t purchase fresh peanuts and almonds. Also, dry roasting or keeping them refrigerated or frozen also can keep them fresh longer.
- Sometimes, these nuts are roasted in oils or have unhealthy additives, so be careful about what you’re purchasing. Avoid almonds or peanuts which have any added oils or sugar… it’s totally unnecessary anyway. And it’s a good idea to pay attention to salt as well because some varieties of packaged nuts can be very high in sodium.
- For peanuts, eating the dry roasted varieties may be the best and healthiest idea. However, if you can find some raw peanuts from some reputable sources, you can get some of the benefits of peanuts in their purest form. The only drawback is that evidence suggests they could possibly harbor small amounts of aflatoxin, which is a poison that comes from the mold. Dry roasted peanuts are much less likely to go moldy and should be the preferred option.
Cooking With Peanuts and Almonds
There are a number of types of recipes where peanuts and almonds are somewhat interchangeable – like in smoothies, as a spread, or even in an Asian-inspired pad-thai style sauce. However, there are a few types of recipes where each food would be more appropriate.
Almonds make a great gluten-free “flour” if blanched, dried, and blended. This almond flour (or meal) can be used in cupcakes, cookies, and cakes… and can even be used to thicken salad dressings. Peanuts don’t do well as a flour alternative.
Peanuts, on the other hand, are great to use for things like African Peanut Stew, and almonds would likely not be appropriate.
All in all, the controversy surrounding almonds vs. peanuts isn’t much more than manufactured hype, and the reality is that both nuts can be an extremely beneficial part of your diet in moderation. We’ve got some of the best and healthiest sources for peanuts and almonds here at Nut Stop. Just make sure not to overeat, watch your sodium intake, and enjoy.