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Are Nut Butters and Seed Butters Paleo?

If you follow The Paleo Diet®, you’re used to eating foods in their whole, unprocessed form. But since nut butters are technically “processed,” can they be considered a true Paleo food?

The short answer is yes. Nut butters made from cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts, and almonds are all Paleo, but there’s a stipulation: they must only contain nuts. If additives, preservatives, or flavorings are included on the label, it isn’t Paleo.

Pure nut butters are a healthy choice in moderation. They’re a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to cognitive function, hormonal health, and healthy inflammation levels.

How much can I eat?

Before you start loading your favorite nut butters onto all your snacks, it’s important to keep in mind that we at The Paleo Diet suggest eating nut butters in moderation. Since nut butters have been modified from their natural form, it’s easy to overindulge in them. Plus, we only require 20-35 percent of calories from fat when following a balanced diet. [1]

A good rule of thumb is to stick to a maximum of two tablespoons of nut butter at each meal (this applies to any fat, including avocado and olive oil). That’s approximately two thumb-sized portions.

What about peanut butter?

Since peanuts aren’t Paleo, that means peanut butter is off the menu as well.

Peanuts aren’t nuts—they’re actually legumes and members of the pea family. All legumes, including peanuts, peas, and beans, are off limits on The Paleo Diet because they contain anti-nutrients like lectins and phytates, which can be detrimental to one’s health. They exist as a defense mechanism in plants to defend themselves from foraging animals, making them unpalatable or uncomfortable for animals to consume.

Anti-nutrients can trigger digestive issues such as nausea and bloating, rashes, and can interfere with nutrient absorption, which can lead to deficiencies. [2] You can find out more on why it’s best to avoid peanuts in this article.

What about seed butters?

As with nut butters, seed butters (like tahini) are Paleo-friendly as long as they contain only seeds and are free of any additives. For those with tree nut allergies, seed butters are a fantastic alternative to incorporating a nutty flavor to any dish or snack. Plus, sunflower seed butter is probably the closest in taste to peanut butter for those who crave it.

Homemade Paleo-friendly nut butters

To ensure your nut butters are high quality and Paleo-friendly, make them yourself at home using a Vitamix or high-speed blender. Not only will you have complete control of the ingredients and food quality, but you can also have fun and get creative by blending your favorite nuts and seeds together.

How exciting is it to invent a totally unique blend for your next spread?

Almond butter will keep for two weeks at room temperature, or at least two months refrigerated.

Nut butter recipes to try

While you can always smear a slice of apple with your nut butter of choice, there are some other creative ways you can enjoy your favorite spread. Try using them in one of these Paleo-approved recipes:


[1] Liu AG, Ford NA, Hu FB, Zelman KM, Mozaffarian D, Kris-Etherton PM. A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion [Internet]. Nutrition journal. BioMed Central; 2017 [cited 2021May21]. Available at:…;

[2] Popova, A. and Mihaylova, D., 2021. Antinutrients in Plant-based Foods: A Review. [online] Available at: <;

Irene Jay

Irene Jay is a Holistic Health Coach and a certified Nutrition Coach from Vancouver, BC.

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