These Healthy Swaps Can Replace Your Peanut Butter

Americans have been enjoying peanut butter for over a century now, thanks in large part to John Harvey Kellogg –- inventor of the cornflake –- who patented a peanut paste prototype in 1895 (via Smithsonian Magazine). Today, peanut butter has become a popular cupboard staple, with nearly 300 million Americans reporting that they enjoyed some of the delicious peanut-y stuff in 2020 (via Statista).

Unfortunately, while many Americans love peanut butter, there are those who must avoid it — and other foods containing peanuts — due to food allergies. In fact, the United States has one of the highest rates of peanut allergies in the world, with roughly 1.8 million children now diagnosed with peanut allergies (via Business Insider).

According to the Mayo Clinic, having a peanut allergy is no joke. When you have a peanut allergy and inadvertently consume even a trace of peanuts, your immune system acts as if there is something foreign in your body, and your cells respond by releasing chemicals that can trigger dangerous reactions. For instance, there can be serious consequences such as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction with symptoms that can include constricted airways, swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, and potentially, death. However, the good news is that if you can't consume peanut butter, there are many delicious alternatives that can satisfy your nutty cravings .

Tree nut and nut-free substitutes for peanut butter

If you are allergic to peanut butter, there are many tree nut alternatives that you may enjoy just as much, or even more. However, it is important to note that you should first make sure that you are allergic only to peanuts before enjoying any of these other options. 

If you're looking for a place to start, the experts at Healthline offer up many yummy swaps. For instance, one delicious peanut butter substitute you may want to try –- even if you don't have nut allergies –- is almond butter. Almond butter, which has a similar nutrition and benefit profile to peanut butter, is a fiber powerhouse that can help keep hunger at bay. Almond butter also contains a high amount of healthy fats and won't spike your blood sugar levels. Hazelnut butter is also a delicious alternative. However, Healthline warns against consuming sugary versions like Nutella and to instead go for brands that are less processed. 

And if you need to avoid nut butters entirely, some alternatives you can try instead include tahini, the Middle Eastern condiment spread derived from sesame seeds, as well as sunflower seed butter. You may also want to experiment with moderate amounts of coconut butter as a way to jazz up your oatmeal or smoothie (via Healthline). So, whether you have a peanut allergy or not, there are plenty of nutty and nut-free alternatives to peanut butter that are not only delicious but will also support a healthy diet.