The Buzz: Powdered Nut Butters

What’s the buzz:
Powdered versions of nut butters are “better for you” than the real thing.

What does the science say?
Just when you thought that fat was good for you again, products like powdered nut butters are trending in part because they’re lower fat than the originals. A dehydrated, or pressed, version of the nut that removes between 85-90 percent of the fat, powdered nut butters contain about a quarter of the calories per tablespoon compared to the real thing. They can be reconstituted by adding water — making them spreadable — or some people add the dry version to yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal to boost flavor. For the one-third of Americans who are on a diet, the majority of whom are doing so in an effort to lose weight, according to survey data from the International Food Information Council, this may sound like a dream come true — the taste of peanut butter without all of the calories.

But could all this hype be a little bit nuts?

Nuts and nut butters are foods that diets often tell you to eat with caution because they are so calorie-dense — meaning they provide a lot of calories for a little volume of food. Is that always a bad thing? Maybe not. Within those calories, you get a mix of plant-based fat, fiber, protein, and variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Fiber, fat, and protein are a powerful trifecta when it comes to feeling full, and all three play a role in weight management. In fact, nuts and nut butter have been shown to promote satiety. One study actually showed that consuming peanut butter does not lead to an increased total calorie consumption per day, meaning that people compensate for the calories in peanut butter by eating less at other meals or snacks. Consuming monounsaturated fats, the primary fat found in nuts, is also linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved blood sugar control, and lower levels of inflammation, not to mention healthier skin and hair from eating a diet that contains enough of the right types of fat. When you lose the fat, you lose all of these benefits.

What’s the takeaway?
If you’re trying to cut calories, choosing powdered nut butters may not be the best answer. Although they are lower in calories, you miss out on all the benefits of plant-based fats. If you do choose to go for the powdered version, aim to eat other sources of healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish.