Food Fight!: Soy Nut Butter vs. Sunflower Seed Butter

Food Network Kitchen Soy Nut Butter Healthy Eats Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Which of these alterna-nut butters is the superior pick? Just in time for the back-to-school season, two sandwich spreads battle it out. 

Soy Nut Butter

This spread is made from roasted soybeans, oil and salt. Some brands include extras like palm oil and added sugar. Soy nut butter has a wonderfully thick and creamy texture, but the flavor does come across as a bit stale, leaving a slightly unpleasant aftertaste. (That said, a tasty jam can easily distract from this.)

Nutritionally speaking, soybean-derived butter is comparable to peanut butter. A tablespoon contains 95 calories, 7 grams of total fat (much of it the "good" kind) and a little over 1 gram of saturated fat. The soy butter also delivers 3.5 grams of protein and just 1.5 grams of sugar. Sodium content can vary quite significantly but averages about 50 milligrams per tablespoon. The spread also boasts small amounts of other minerals, including iron and calcium.

Sunflower Seed Spread

Sunflower butter or "sun butter," as this spread is sometimes called, is made from sunflower seeds whirred with sugar, salt and occasionally a drop of oil. We did spot one organic brand made only from seeds and salt. The spread is a bit more oily than soy nut butter -- with a sheeny layer reminiscent of natural peanut butters -- and most brands suggest refrigerating after opening. But the seed butter earns a big thumbs-up in the taste department , with a nutty, well-rounded flavor that makes it a close cousin to peanut butter.

One tablespoon contains 100 calories, 8 grams of fat (again, mostly of the the unsaturated variety) and 0.5 gram of saturated fat. On the protein and sugar fronts, it's neck and neck with soy nut butter, with 3.5 grams and 1.5 grams, respectively. Sodium levels jump around here as well, although 50 to 60 milligrams are the norm. Sunflower butter slightly edges out soy nut butter in the fiber department -- with 3 grams total to soy butter's 1.5 -- and can also claim slightly more iron.

Healthy Eats Winner: Sunflower seed spread comes out on top! Great flavor and a simple ingredient list make it a winning option for kids' (or adults') lunch boxes.

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