So I was at first excited to see a major food company had brought out a new range of nut spreads (cashew, almond etc)- I thought it would be great for more of the public to start using nut spreads in a range of ways. They have the potential to be a good source of healthy fats and other nutrients, and provide a range of flavours to meals and snacks.
However, when I picked up a jar of the new cashew nut spread, and one of almond nut spread I was very disappointed with what I saw.
These new products were far from a natural nut spread, with on average only 20% of the spread being nuts. I was quite surprised that the main ingredients were vegetable oil and maltodextrin ( a product of starch which is used as a food additive, such as a filler and to assist in providing the right mouth feel for certain products such as spreads). If you look further down the ingredient list you will see other ingredients such as sugar and salt, along with other additives in there.
Now, being a dietitian with experience in product development, I understand potential reasons why they may have done this (I understand- not necessarily agree with) including price, production constraints, consumer trends and preferences (e.g. texture an taste) etc; however I feel it is important to highlight these products as an example of how the public may be unexpectedly consuming a product which they believe to be healthy but contains other ingredients.
I also encourage food companies to work with dietitians and nutritionists such as myself to improve products to provide a healthier product, yet also one that is appealing to consumers. A hard line to sometimes walk, but that is what dietitians can assist with.
Now there are many other nut spreads that can be found that are 100% nuts. While they may not have the same texture and consistency as regular nut spreads such popular brands of peanut butter, they are just made up of nuts and can be very tasty.
Now I understand many factors come into play when deciding on purchasing a product including cost, availability and personal taste preferences- so for some people they may like these new spreads and may not like 100% nut spreads and this is a personal decision.
However I feel it is important that consumers have all the information to make a decision on the products they choose to buy- dont rely on just marketing alone.
We recommend choosing products that have been as minimally processed as possible and if you would like more advice on foods, nutrition and health then contact us for an appointment.