Are nut butters badder, better or as nutty as nuts themselves?
  • Wednesday, January 16, 2019
  • 78°


Are nut butters badder, better or as nutty as nuts themselves?

  • BRUCE ASATO / 2017

    A variety of peanut butter and jelly brands on the shelf at Central Middle School’s food pantry in 2017.


What is it about peanut butter that makes it attractive to so many songwriters?

From the Australian kids’ songsters The Wiggles (“There’s a food going round that’s a sticky, sticky goo/Peanut, peanut butter”) to the rappers in Wu-Tang Clan (“Don’t eat Skippy, Jif or Peter Pan peanut butter”)?

And why did singer Gwen Stefani say about herself, with no further explanation, “I’m like a peanut butter sandwich.”

People get a little nutty about peanut butter, apparently, but they have a point. Nuts and pure nut butters made from nothing but peanuts (we know it’s a legume, but for this discussion that may be close enough), walnuts, almonds, cashews and/or hazelnuts are packed with heart-loving poly- and mono- unsaturated fats and nutrients, including protein, iron, calcium and potassium.

One study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating peanuts and tree nuts two or more times a week and walnuts at least once a week was associated with a 13 to 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and up to a 23 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

But not all nut butters are healthy options — something Wu-Tang figured out. Their lyrics called out brands that, among their diverse offerings, contain heart-damaging trans fats/hydrogenated palm, cottonseed and soy oils and added sugar/honey/artificial sweeteners.

Stick with nut butters made with nuttin’ but nuts (and maybe water).

And for your PB&J sandwich, forget artificially sweetened jellies and jams. Go for preserves made with 100 percent pure fruits, spread on 100 percent whole-grain bread.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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