The definitive guide to Low FODMAP nut and seed butters.
Is there anything better than a scoop of creamy peanut butter? Or a delicious piece of chocolate stuffed with peanut butter? If you’re like me, eating peanut butter is a daily occurrence! When my clients start the Low FODMAP diet, a frequent question I’m asked is, “Is peanut butter Low FODMAP?”. This is quickly followed by, “What about almond butter?”. That’s when I get into my breakdown of all the Low and High FODMAP nuts, seeds and their respective butters. Yes, there are seed butters out there beside sunflower seed butter!
What is Low vs. High FODMAP
Table of Contents
First, let’s review what makes a food low or high FODMAP.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates, specifically sugars and fibers, that are naturally found in a variety of foods. They are not good or bad, they just kind of are. When you have IBS, you may feel the effects of eating high FODMAP foods. Symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Monash University is our go to source when it comes to testing FODMAPs. They are frequently testing (and retesting) common foods to find out what levels of FODMAPs they might contain. While you are in the elimination phase of the Low FODMAP diet, you want to stick to Low FODMAP serving sizes. Once you move into the reintroduction (or challenge) phase, you are testing moderate and high FODMAP servings of various foods.
Portion size explanation
- FODMAPs are all about the portion size. This can often connect the dots for people when it comes to why a food bothers one day, but not the next (bigger vs. smaller portions), but it can also be frustrating having to be careful. This is one of the reasons that I highly recommend getting the Monash app, as opposed to relying on possibly outdated FODMAP lists. It gives you more variety and flexibility in the diet, albeit with a little extra work.
- When it comes to portions of nuts and seed butters, there is some variety. Most of the time you can trust that 1 Tbsp will be Low FODMAP, but it really comes down to the type of nut or seed being used.
Synopsis of Nut/Seed butters
- Peanut Butter: Monash tested and found to be Low FODMAP! They recommend 2 Tbsp as a “green serve” but also note that larger servings (like more than ⅓ cup) in one sitting is high in fructose.
- Almond Butter: Monash tested and found to be Low FODMAP at 1 Tbsp. More than that and you start to creep into higher GOS/Fructan levels.
- Cashew Butter: this has not been tested but is assumed to be high FODMAP because cashew nuts are high fodmap. Avoid during the elimination phase.
- Pistachio Butter: same as cashews, but this has not been tested. We assume it is high FODMAP because pistachio nuts are high fodmap. Avoid during the elimination phase.
- Sunflower Seed Butter: this has not been tested, but is assumed to be Low FODMAP because sunflower seeds are low FODMAP at 2 tsp.
- Pumpkin Seed Butter: this has not been tested but assumed to be low fodmap because pumpkin seeds are low FODMAP at 2 Tbsp.
- Tahini (sesame seed butter) is Monash tested and found to be Low FODMAP at 2 Tbsp. You’ll often find tahini as an ingredient in hummus.
- Hazelnut butter (aka Nutella) has not been tested for FODMAPs. Hazelnuts have been found to be low in FODMAPs at about 10 nuts, so you would think Nutella would be Low FODMAP. This is where we have to dive deeper into the ingredients. It contains skim milk and cocoa, which can be low or high FODMAP depending on the serving size. This is a hard one to decipher, but I would recommend avoiding it during the elimination phase.
Ingredients to look out for:
- Sweeteners: agave, honey, high fructose corn syrup. These ingredients all contain the FODMAP fructose. Agave and honey both have a low FODMAP serving of 1 tsp, but it’s hard to know how much is used in a product. For this reason, I would avoid any nut or seed butters with these ingredients during the elimination phase.
- Dairy: milk, cream, etc. Unless the label says lactose-free or a lactase enzyme has been added, it will be hard to know how much lactose was used. I’d recommend avoiding this ingredient during the elimination phase.
- What about palm oil, cane sugar, etc? From a FODMAP perspective, these really don’t matter. They are not high in FODMAPs and will be allowed on the diet. From a health perspective, it is recommended to limit added sugars and saturated fats.
LoFo Brands & Flavors
To sum it up, peanut butter, almond butter and tahini have all been tested and have Low FODMAP servings. We can assume that sunflower seed butter and pumpkin seed butter are Low FODMAP at a small serving size. Cashew and pistachio butter are high FODMAP and should be avoided. Nutella (aka hazelnut butter with cocoa) is hard to say. I’d recommend avoiding it during elimination.
Now let’s talk about specific brands and flavors that ARE Low FODMAP!
- Peanut Butter
- Jif Creamy, Natural, No Sugar Added, Simpy
- This does contain molasses, but it is less than 2% of ingredients
- Skippy Creamy, Crunchy, Natural, Natural Extra Chunky, Natural ⅓ less sodium and sugar
- Justin’s Classic PB
- Kirkland Signature Organic
- Whole Foods 365 Organic, Creamy, Organic Creamy Unsalted, Crunch, Organic Crunchy
- Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy, Creamy Salted
- PB2 Original, Chocolate
- Crazy Richard’s Creamy, Crunchy
- Smuckers Chunky, Creamy
- Jif Creamy, Natural, No Sugar Added, Simpy
- Almond Butter (1 Tbsp)
- Justin’s Classic, Maple, Vanilla, Cinnamon
- Kirkland Original and Organic
- Maranatha Organic Raw, Organic Crunchy, No Sugar or Salt Added, No Stir Creamy or Crunchy, Regular Creamy or Crunchy
- Barney Butter Smooth, Crunchy, Bare Smooth, Chocolate Almond
- Whole Foods 365 Brand
- Crazy Richard’s Almond Butter
- Sunflower Seed Butter (portion tbd)
- 88 Acres Regular, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Cinnamon
- Sunbutter Natural, Creamy, Chocolate, Natural Crunch, No Sugar Added, Organic
- Once Again Creamy (sweetened and unsweetened)
- Pumpkin Seed Butter (portion tbd)
- 88 Acres Roasted Pumpkin Seed Butter & Unsweetened
- Tahini (2 Tbsp)
- Soom: Premium, Organic, Dark Chocolate, Chocolate, Vanilla Bean
- Whole Foods 365
Low FODMAP Recipes
- Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Energy Bites
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bites
- Tahini Salad Dressing
- Rainbow Wraps
A note on fat as an IBS trigger
There are certain food items, outside of FODMAPs, that can trigger your IBS. One of those is fat! Everyone has a different tolerance of fatty goods in relation to their gut symptoms, so I can’t tell you exactly how much fat to consume each day to avoid a flare up.
What I would recommend is keeping a food and symptom log. If you notice that you always have diarrhea the morning after eating a cheeseburger and fries, that high fat meal is likely a trigger. Try eating half of your typical portion and see if the same thing happens. Or try choosing the burger or the fries instead of both all at once.
You might have to play around with what works, but you likely won’t have to give up your favorite food completely!
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