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Is SunButter good or bad for you?

SunButter is a peanut butter alternative made from sunflower seeds. With peanut allergies on the rise, SunButter has become a popular substitute for peanut butter. But is SunButter actually a healthy choice? Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of SunButter.

What is SunButter?

SunButter is made by roasting sunflower seeds until they release their oils. The roasted sunflower seeds are then pressed to extract the oil and ground into a butter-like paste. Sunflower seed butter contains no peanuts or tree nuts, making it safe for people with peanut and tree nut allergies.

The taste and texture of SunButter is similar to peanut butter, though the flavor is often described as toasted and nutty. SunButter comes in creamy and crunchy varieties and is available in original, chocolate, and honey flavors.

Nutrition Facts of SunButter

Here is the nutrition information for 2 tablespoons (32g) of original SunButter:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 190
Total Fat 16g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 75mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 2g
Protein 7g
Calcium 3% DV
Iron 10% DV
Potassium 5% DV

Key Nutrients in SunButter

Here are some of the key nutrients found in SunButter and their benefits:

  • Protein – SunButter contains 7g of plant-based protein per serving, making it a good protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Fiber – With 3g of fiber per serving, SunButter can help promote digestive health and regularity.
  • Vitamin E – Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports skin, eye, and immune health.
  • Magnesium – SunButter provides magnesium, a mineral involved in muscle, nerve, and heart function.
  • Iron – SunButter delivers iron to support oxygen transport and energy levels.

The Pros of SunButter

Here are some of the main benefits of choosing SunButter:

1. SunButter is peanut-free

The biggest advantage of SunButter is that it contains no peanuts or tree nuts. This makes it safe for people with peanut allergies or tree nut allergies. Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies, so having an peanut butter alternative is important for many people.

2. Nutrient profile

SunButter contains many of the same nutrients as peanut butter. Both foods provide plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. SunButter offers a similar nutritional punch as peanut butter, just in a peanut-free form.

3. Fewer calories than peanut butter

SunButter has slightly fewer calories per serving compared to regular peanut butter. Two tablespoons of SunButter has 190 calories, while two tablespoons of regular peanut butter has about 200 calories. The small calorie difference could be beneficial for people watching their calorie intake.

4. Versatile ingredient

Just like peanut butter, SunButter can be used in a variety of recipes and foods. It can be spread on sandwiches or toast, added to smoothies, used to make energy bites or granola bars, or stirred into oatmeal or yogurt. SunButter is a versatile ingredient to cook and bake with.

5. Shelf-stable

Because of its low moisture content, SunButter has a long shelf life compared to other nut butters. An unopened jar can be stored in a pantry for 12-24 months. Once opened, it keeps for 2-3 months in the refrigerator. The long shelf life makes SunButter convenient to keep on hand.

The Cons of SunButter

However, there are also some downsides to consider with SunButter:

1. Higher in fat than peanut butter

While SunButter is slightly lower in calories than peanut butter, it is significantly higher in fat. SunButter gets 45% of its calories from fat, while peanut butter gets about 35% of its calories from fat. The extra fat comes from sunflower oil that is added during processing.

2. Higher in omega-6s

Sunflower oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6s are an essential fatty acid, most experts recommend limiting intake and balancing it with more omega-3 fats. Because SunButter is high in omega-6s, it may promote inflammation if consumed in excess.

3. Lower in protein than peanut butter

Peanuts contain more protein than sunflower seeds. Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 8g of protein compared to 7g in SunButter. The slightly lower protein content makes peanut butter a better option for boosting protein intake.

4. Added sugars in some varieties

While original SunButter only contains 2g of natural sugars, some flavored SunButter varieties contain added sugars like cane sugar or honey. The added sugars boost the calorie and carbohydrate content compared to original SunButter.

5. More expensive than peanut butter

On average, SunButter costs $4 to $6 per jar while peanut butter costs $2 to $4 per jar. The higher cost could be prohibitive for people on a tight budget.

SunButter and Allergies

SunButter was designed as a peanut butter replacement for people with peanut allergies. However, some people wonder if SunButter is truly allergy-friendly.

Sunflower Seed Allergy

While rare, some people have an allergy to sunflower seeds. People with a sunflower seed allergy should avoid SunButter due to the risk of an allergic reaction.

Manufacturing Facility

SunButter is produced in a facility that also processes tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat. The equipment is thoroughly cleaned between production runs, but there is a small risk of cross-contact.

Shared Equipment

SunButter jars and lids may come into contact with peanut butter containers during manufacturing. Individuals highly sensitive to peanuts should be cautious and check with the company about contamination risks.

Overall, SunButter is generally safe for peanut allergy sufferers. But those with multiple food allergies or severe peanut allergy should take extra precautions.

SunButter vs. Other Nut Butters

How does SunButter stack up against other nut and seed butters?

SunButter vs. Peanut Butter

As discussed earlier, SunButter is higher in fat and omega-6s than peanut butter, while peanut butter provides more protein. Peanut butter also tends to be more affordable. However, peanut butter is not an option for those requiring a peanut-free alternative.

SunButter vs. Almond Butter

Almond butter has a similar calorie count to SunButter but less fat and more protein. However, almond butter is not safe for people with tree nut allergies.

SunButter vs. Soy Butter

Soy butter has a comparable nutrition profile to SunButter in terms of fat, carbs, and protein. It also works for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. However, soy butter is not recommended for people with soy allergies.

SunButter vs. Seed Butters

Butters made from seeds like pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, or chia seeds tend to be higher in protein and nutrients than SunButter. However, most seed butters are significantly more expensive.

Is SunButter Healthy?

Overall, SunButter can be part of a healthy diet, but it should be consumed in moderation. Here are some tips for healthy SunButter consumption:

  • Limit to 1-2 tablespoons per day – it’s easy to overdo it with the large jars.
  • Enjoy it with fruits, oats, or whole grain breads for balanced nutrition.
  • Pair it with foods rich in omega-3s to balance the high omega-6 content.
  • Go for original or low-sugar varieties over flavored SunButters.
  • Drink plenty of water to offset the naturally sodium content.
  • Store it properly and watch expiration dates to prevent spoilage.


SunButter offers a useful peanut butter alternative for people with peanut allergies. It provides a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, SunButter is high in omega-6 fats and lacks some of the protein content of peanut butter. Moderation is key, as SunButter is easy to over-consume. Stick to a tablespoon or two per day along with plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. This helps provide balanced nutrition and keeps SunButter as part of a healthy diet.