With so many options, which nut butter is best for you?

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Courtney Schoepe, a nutritionist for Giant Food Stores, says during the past year, the nut butter aisle has expanded up and out. (WPVI)

Courtney Schoepe is a nutritionist for Giant Food Stores. She says during the past year, the nut butter aisle has expanded up and out.

Almond and cashew butter have spiked in popularity.

"The benefit in them, if you will, is that they have a little bit more mono- or polyunsaturated fats," said Schoepe.

Those are the heart-healthy fats. But overall with most brands, it's not a huge difference compared to peanut butter. So for these, Schoepe says it's more of a matter of taste.

"If you enjoy almonds, you'll enjoy almond butter. If you don't, you absolutely will not like it because it's intensified flavor," said Schoepe.

In terms of nutrition, she says sunflower seed butter is similar, and it's a great option for kids with nut allergies.

As for all nut butters, you can grab the oil on top or emulsified. And this is where it gets a bit tricky.

If you want to go all natural with no extras, the best bet is oil on top. Ingredients should read 'just peanuts' or 'peanuts and salt.'

If you prefer a more spreadable nut butter, yours will be emulsified. It can still be natural, but it'll have more than just nuts.

"They do add either palm oil or they'll add safflower oil and a little bit of sugar of some form and salt," said Schoepe.

Schoepe says read the label. A jar of JIF we picked up in the store had three grams of sugar. A typical oil on top version has one - not a major difference.

"So for me, for a family, so that the peanut butter spreads easy, it makes life easy, it doesn't have to be in the fridge, maybe you want to go with the emulsified one," said Schoepe.

But the newer, flavored nut butters like Nutella and ones with chocolate or honey are more of a dessert. A Hershey's chocolate with hazelnut has 20 grams of sugar.

And lastly, joining the aisle recently is powdered peanut butter. Peanuts are pressed to get the oil out. So there is less fat and less calories.

"Two tablespoons of this has 50 calories versus 2 tablespoons of traditional peanut butter has 180 calories," said Schoepe.
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