Americans like their peanut butter, spending nearly $800 million a year on it, according to the National Peanut Board. But you don't have to limit yourself to just peanut butter. A variety of nut butters are now available on supermarket shelves, such as cashew butter. Comparing the nutritional facts between peanut and cashew butter may help you decide which to bring home.
Calories and Macronutrients
If you're counting calories, you can easily swap your peanut butter for cashew butter; each contains 188 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. However, the two nut butters have some differences in their macronutrient -- carbohydrates, protein and fat -- makeup. A 2-tablespoon serving of smooth peanut butter contains 8 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat. The same serving of cashew butter contains 8 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat. Peanut butter may make the better choice if you're trying to increase your fiber intake.
Vitamins B and E
Neither nut butter is a significant source of any vitamin, but they both contain some B vitamins, and peanut butter is a source of vitamin E. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter contains 4.2 milligrams of niacin, 11 micrograms of folate and 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E. Cashew butter contains 0.5 milligrams of niacin and 22 micrograms of folate in the same serving. Both also contain a small amount of other B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. Most Americans don't get enough vitamin E in their diets, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, which makes peanut butter a good choice for meeting those needs. However, cashew butter is a better source of folate, which is especially important to women of childbearing age because adequate intakes of the B vitamin helps prevent birth defects.
Iron and Zinc
When it comes to minerals, cashew butter is a better source of iron and zinc, while peanut butter contains a touch more calcium, even though neither butter is a significant source of calcium. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter contains 17 milligrams of calcium, 0.7 milligrams of iron and 0.9 milligrams of zinc, while the same serving of cashew butter contains 14 milligrams of calcium, 1.6 milligrams of iron and 1.7 milligrams of zinc. Iron plays an important role in transporting oxygen from your lungs to your organs, and zinc helps your body fight off illness.
Choosing a Healthy Nut Butter
Whether it's peanut butter or cashew butter, read the label before you bring it home. You want a nut butter that doesn't contain any partially hydrogenated oils, which is another name for trans fats. These types of fats increase bad cholesterol levels, or LDL, and lowers good cholesterol levels, or HDL. Also, avoid nut butters with added sugar. Go for natural nut butters with few added ingredients.