Almond butter is an energy-dense snack made by pressing and grinding almonds, much like you would press and grind peanuts for peanut butter.
Almond butter is attractive to many health food enthusiasts because of its excellent content of healthy fats and the deep pool of scientific research that backs the health benefits of almonds.
Many people prefer almond butter to peanut, for taste, allergy, or health reasons—peanuts don’t have nearly the same high-quality fat profile of almonds.
Whatever the reason, if you want almond butter, you want a brand that’s high quality. Our researcher team has ranked the ten highest-quality almond butters with the best nutritional content.
1. Almondee California Almond Butter
Almondee California Almond Butter plays to the local crowd, using only California-grown non-GMO almonds in their manufacturing process.
On top of that, almonds are the only ingredient, making this a very solid almond butter. With no salt, no sugar, and great texture, it’s our number one pick.
2. Barney Butter Almond Butter
Barney Butter Almond Butter is a favorite among health food enthusiasts and people with a peanut allergy alike.
It’s made in a totally peanut-free facility, and its only two ingredients are almonds and palm oil.
3. NaturAlmond Almond Butter
NaturAlmond Almond Butter is peanut-free, salt-free, and made with roasted almonds and zero additional ingredients.
Users praise the slightly crunchy texture of the almond butter—it’s not perfectly smooth, which gives it a distinctively different feel.
4. Kirkland Signature Almond Butter
Kirkland Signature Almond Butter is about as pure as you could ever get. There’s exactly one ingredient in this almond butter: almonds. No palm oil or anything else. If you’re a nut butter purist, this is a great choice.
5. Wild Soil Almond Butter
Wild Soil is a smaller company, but it produces a high-quality almond butter from almond trees grown at a small orchard in California. If you want to support a small farm with a good product, it’s a good call.
6. Zinke Orchards Almond Butter
Zinke Orchards makes a pretty popular almond butter that’s pretty smooth and creamy, though the quality varies a bit from batch to batch. Even so, it’s a perennial favorite among many users.
7. Jiva Organics Raw Sprouted Almond Butter
Jiva Organics uses almonds that are both grown organic and used raw and sprouted. This means that this almond butter has a distinctively “green” and sweeter flavor to it than almond butter made from roasted almonds, as most other almond butters are.
This different taste is a little polarizing, but plenty of people love it. If you are looking for something with a taste that’s a little different from the usual almond butter, give Jiva Organics a shot.
8. Artisana Organics Raw Almond Butter
Artisana Organics is the best of the organic almond butter options. To keep the almonds as raw as possible, Artisana Organics uses low-temperature grinding, though one byproduct of this is that the almond butter does need a good bit of stirring to mix the oil back into the solution.
9. Julie’s Real Almond Butter
Julie’s Real Almond Butter keeps things natural, but puts a unique twist on regular almond butter by flavoring it with honey, cinnamon, and vanilla beans.
While the honey adds a bit of sugar, the amount is pretty trivial—just three grams per serving. Strict zero-sugar dieters will want to look elsewhere, but if you are looking for something with a little sweetness and spice to it, Julie’s Real Almond Butter is worth a try.
10. Dastony Organic Almond Butter
Dastony Organic Almond Butter is organic, which is a big plus. However, their quality control isn’t the greatest, and there seems to be a lot of oil relative to almond in this almond butter, as many users find that the oil separates and becomes very soupy.
Almond butter benefits and side effects
Almond butter is a popular health food thanks to its beneficial fat content, high nutrient density, and positive long-term effects on your risk factors for chronic disease.
Even though it’s an energy-dense food, it’s not going to make you gain weight like processed snack foods that are high in sugar and low in carbohydrates.
We’ll take a look at some of the health benefits behind almond butter and examine how much you should eat as part of a healthy diet.
The beneficial fats in almonds are good for heart health. Almond butter is full of oils from pressed and crushed almonds, and these oils have significant benefits for your cardiovascular well-being.
One study that directly demonstrated this was published in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition (1). In it, researchers had 27 adults with high blood lipids (a well-established risk factor for heart disease) consume one of three snacks during the course of three one-month trial periods.
These snacks contained 100 grams of almonds, 50 grams of almonds, or zero grams of almond, and the order was randomized.
The researchers tracked how the blood biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk changed as a function of the dietary intake of the subjects during their various one month trial periods.
They found that the highest dose of almonds was associated with a significant increase in oleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids in the blood; both of these findings are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease over the next ten years.
Randomized clinical trials have shown that almonds can lower your cholesterol. One study published by researchers at Penn State University looked at cholesterol levels, another strong indicator of cardiovascular disease risk (2).
The study randomized nearly fifty people into two groups, one of which consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds per day as a snack in addition to their usual diet, while the other consumed a muffin with an equal amount of calories. This continued for six weeks, after which the groups were switched.
The researchers found that cholesterol, particularly LDL or “bad” cholesterol, was reduced when the subjects were eating almonds instead of the muffin snack. Interestingly, the researchers also found that almonds were associated with a reduction in body fat stored in the abdomen, indicating that almonds may have a more general positive metabolic effect.
Almonds can improve blood sugar control in people with prediabetes. Prediabetes, which is characterized by high blood sugar and poor insulin, affects millions of people, so a team of researchers in New Jersey decided to investigate whether almonds could improve prediabetes (3).
Their rationale was based on results from observational studies, which indicated a possible link between almond consumption and better blood sugar control.
Their study was quite intensive: subjects with prediabetes were split into a control group, which followed the American Diabetes Association recommended diet, and an experimental group, which followed the same diet except that 20% of the calories were replaced with almonds. Both groups were followed over the course of 16 weeks.
The researchers reported that the almond-rich diet had greater improvements in their insulin sensitivity as well as lowered LDL cholesterol.
This second finding is not surprising, as we’d seen the same result in other studies specifically focused on almonds and cardiovascular disease risk.
The most important takeaway from this study is that even a huge amount of almonds in your diet appears to be healthy: Fully one fifth of the caloric intake of the experimental group in this study consisted only of almonds.
Moreover, they weren’t being compared to a control group on their own diet; this high-almond diet was compared to a dietary plan approved by the American Diabetes Association.
Almonds won’t cause you to gain weight. If you believe that weight loss is simply a matter of calories in versus calories out, you’d think that adding a substantial quantity of almonds to your diet would inevitably lead to weight gain, thanks to their high energy density and fat content.
A study published in 2007 by researchers at Purdue University tested this proposition by recruiting 20 women for a cross-over study (4).
Half the women added 350 calories of almonds to their diet every day for ten weeks, with no other dietary alterations. The other half maintained the same diet. After ten weeks plus a three week washout period, the groups switched, and the control group started eating almonds while the experimental group stopped.
After analyzing the results, the researchers were were surprised—eating almonds was associated with no change in body weight. The researchers showed that this occurred because of (presumably unconscious) reductions in intake of other foods.
This finding makes the long term health benefits of almonds even more attractive, as their high energy density won’t have negative consequences for weight gain.
Almond butter can reduce DNA damage. Smoking is definitely bad for your health, but some people can’t resist. These smokers suffer a lot of oxidative damage to their DNA as a result of the smoke particles, and this damage is thought to be the primary cause of many of the diseases that smokers suffer.
For researchers, smokers are also a good model for ways to reduce oxidative damage: interventions that reduce oxidative damage to DNA in smokers might work in nonsmokers people too, since they experience oxidative damage as well, albeit at a lower rate.
This is why antioxidants like goji berries and green tea are so intently studied for their health benefits. Almonds, thanks to their high content of antioxidants, have been studied in this context, using cigarette smoking as a model for oxidative damage to DNA.
A study published in 2007 in the Journal of Nutrition used a randomized cross-over design to study the effects of almonds on levels of DNA damage in a group of smokers (5).
The subjects were randomly assigned to add either 84 grams of almonds or 120 grams of pork per day and were studied over the course of four weeks. The researchers found that almond intake was associated with a 23-34% decrease in DNA strand breaks compared to pork, indicating that almonds could be a good way to protect DNA from oxidative damage.
While this study was conducted in smokers, it’s promising for everyone, as we all deal with varying amounts of oxidative damage on a regular basis.
Most research on almonds and almond butter has used daily intakes commensurate with one or two almond-based snacks per day.
This works out to 1.8-3.5 ounces (50-100 grams) of almonds or almond butter per day, which works out to roughly 300 to 450 calories.
Eating this amount of almonds or almond butter on a daily basis is the right intake to get all of the benefits of almonds, like better heart health and lower cholesterol, without any weight gain. Even higher almond intake might be even more beneficial, but only a small number of studies have examined very almond-heavy diets (through the results are positive).
The only thing to watch out for is heavily salted almond products—these could raise your blood pressure if you eat a lot of almonds, as a result of their sodium content.
However, all the top-ranked almond butters we’ve reviewed have little or no salt added, so you won’t have to worry about that with a highly ranked almond butter.
Almond butter is a great way to take advantage of the health benefits of almonds. When paired with a healthy snack like apple slices, it’s an excellent route to lower cholesterol, better blood lipid profiles, less oxidative DNA damage, and greater cardiovascular health, all without any weight gain.
This may be surprising, given the high caloric content of almonds, but thanks in part to their high fiber content, not all of these calories are absorbed.
A 50 to 100 gram serving of almond butter on a daily basis is a great all-natural way to pave the path towards better long-term health.