You probably know dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are good for your bones. But when it comes to maintaining a sturdy skeleton, these foods don't deserve all the credit.
While dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, which fortifies bones and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, per the Cleveland Clinic, it's not the only way to get your fill of this important mineral.
Video of the Day
Turns out, nut butters like almond butter are rich in calcium and other bone-building nutrients, too. Keep this in mind the next time you're scrounging for a snack but don't feel like Greek yogurt or a cheese stick.
Here, learn why this rich, creamy spread is a solid option for keeping your bones strong.
Why Almond Butter Is Good for Your Bones
Nuts like almonds are a rich source of bone-supporting nutrients, including calcium, which we mostly glean from dietary sources, says Carlos Galindo, MD, a family medicine physician with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano.
Almond butter has the same benefit, as it's simply almonds in pulverized form (assuming you buy a jar that's free of additives — more on that later).
So when you slather the spread on a piece of toast or stir it into your oatmeal, you're getting the same bone-friendly benefits as whole almonds, which include:
1. It's Filled With Calcium and Phosphorus
You'll get approximately 110 milligrams of calcium from a two-tablespoon serving of almond butter, according to the USDA. Considering the recommended daily amount is anywhere between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams for adults, every little bit helps.
The same two-tablespoon serving has about 163 milligrams of phosphorus, which plays a role in the formation of bones, per the National Library of Medicine.
"Our bones contain about 99 percent and 80 percent of the body's entire supply of calcium and phosphorus, respectively," Dr. Galindo says.
Similar to how brick and mortar help hold up the walls of a house, calcium and phosphorus are essential for keeping bones sturdy.
"If the foundation is weak and begins to slip, the house will be damaged, and the home may even collapse," he adds. "In the same way, calcium and phosphorus provide strength and stability — the framework on which the rest of the body is built on."
2. It Contains Magnesium
Two tablespoons of almond butter will give you 89 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that many people struggle to get enough of. (The recommended daily amount is anywhere between 310 to 420 milligrams for the average adult, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)
Magnesium plays a key role in over 300 bodily functions, including helping the body make vitamin D, which we need to absorb calcium, Dr. Galindo says. This can help keep bones strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
In fact, across several studies conducted since 2009, lower values of magnesium were linked to osteoporosis, according to a May 2021 review in Biometals. (About 30 to 40 percent of the study participants were people going through menopause.)
3. It's Protein-Rich
You might know that protein is crucial for muscles, but your bones need it, too. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the body uses protein to build the foundation of bone structures, on which calcium and phosphorus grow.
What's more, protein does indeed help you build muscle, which in turn helps keep your bones strong, per Harvard Health Publishing. Stronger muscles pull harder on your bones, which strengthens them.
Almond butter is certainly considered a protein-rich snack, with around 7 grams per two tablespoons, per the USDA. This makes it not only a great post-workout snack, but one for any time of day.
How Much Almond Butter Should You Eat for the Benefits?
Every spoonful of almond butter you eat will offer up valuable minerals and protein that can help keep your bones healthy. That said, it's still a good idea to keep portion sizes in mind.
Stick with a serving of almond butter (two tablespoons) to reap the benefits without going overboard, and considering eating it as a replacement for other less nutrient-dense, high-calorie foods (e.g., replace butter on toast with almond butter on toast, or chocolate-covered pretzels with pretzels dipped in almond butter).
Here's a nutrient breakdown, according to the USDA:
Almond Butter Nutrient Content (2 Tablespoons)
Check the ingredients list when buying almond butter: Ideally, you should just see almonds (and possibly salt). "Extra ingredients like added sugar or hydrogenated oils are unnecessary for nut butter," Geiger says.
5 Ways to Eat Almond Butter
Sure, you could eat almond butter straight off the spoon (it is that delicious, after all). But there are plenty of other ways to get your fill of this nutty snack. Some ideas include:
- Spreading it on whole-wheat toast
- Adding a scoop of it to a post-workout smoothie (try sipping this after a weight-bearing exercise, which is also good for your bones)
- Dunking apple slices, celery sticks or carrot sticks into a bowl of almond butter
- Stirring it into oatmeal
- Stuffing a spoonful into a pitted date
"If you find your almond butter separating, store it upside down and gently mix it before using," Geiger says. (Just make sure the lid is on tight.)
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Drinking Too Much Milk Make Your Bones More Brittle?"
- USDA: "Nuts, almond butter, plain, without salt added"
- Frontiers in Nutrition: "Associations of the Dietary Magnesium Intake and Magnesium Depletion Score With Osteoporosis Among American Adults: Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey"
- Texas Health Resources: "Carlos Xavier Galindo, MD"
- National Library of Medicine: "Phosphorus in Diet"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Magnesium"
- Biometals: "An update on magnesium and bone health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Essential nutrients your body needs for building bone"
- PHX Vegan Dietitian: "Rhyan Geiger, RD"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The muscle-bone connection"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.