Nuts, seeds, peanut butter

We’re nuts about nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butters!

Nuts, seeds, peanut butter and nut butters are a great source of protein and natural fats.

This means that they make for a great ‘GD food pairing tool‘ to eat with carbohydrates to slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

But with so many different products available to buy, which ones should you choose and are any better than others?

Here we share with you all our hints and tips for choosing the best nuts, seeds, peanut butter and nut butters…

Nuts

Nuts are a great source of protein and natural fat but they do still contain carbohydrates, meaning that some nuts are better than others. The best choice for nuts are nuts that are not salted or flavoured.

macronutrient breakdown of nuts & seeds

Looking at this chart we can see that cashew nuts and pistachio nuts contain the highest amounts of carbohydrates, making them the nuts which aren’t so good for pairing if eaten in larger amounts.

Another nut that is high in carbohydrates, which isn’t listed on this chart is the chestnut, so be wary of these carby nuts at Christmas!

The highest in protein are the peanut and almonds. With macadamia, walnuts and pecans being the highest in fats. That makes these nuts better for food pairing.

Flavoured or coated nuts

Salted, dry roasted, sweet chilli, BBQ, salt & vinegar, yoghurt coated, crispy shells, chocolate coated, you name it they seem to make nuts covered or coated in so many different things.

Savoury nuts included salted, dry roasted and flavoured contain high amounts of salt, so bear this in mind when eating them.

dry roasted nuts

Choosing nuts which are yoghurt or chocolate-coated means that you are significantly increasing the carb amount, making these type of nuts possibly suitable for a treat, but would not be advisable as such good ‘food pairing tools’.

What about snickers, peanut M&Ms & Reese’s peanut butter cups?

In the knowledge that nuts help pair carbs, lots of ladies will ask if that makes sweet treats with nuts a suitable sweet treat option… they’re nuts so they’ll be OK, right?

The problem with all these items is that they contain high amounts of refined sugars. Each of these items first ingredient is sugar.

Snickers has not only chocolate, but nougat and caramel, the M&Ms are coated in a sugar shell and Reese’s peanut butter has a lot of added sugar.

You can safely eat chocolate with gestational diabetes, but we recommend small amounts of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate with higher cocoa content. Our chocolate page explains suggestions and tips for eating chocolate in more detail.

M&Ms
This whole bag contains 97.5g carbs or just over 24 tsp of sugar

Peanut M&Ms per 41g suggested portion size = 24.2g carbs or 6 tsp of sugar

Snickers bar 48g single bar = 26.2g carbs per bar or 6 ½ tsp of sugar

Reese’s Peanut butter cups, 3 cup pack = 26.4g carbs or 6 ½ tsp of sugar

warningBeware of nuts mixed with dried fruit!

Fruit is a simple carbohydrate meaning the fructose is easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

The drying process strips the fruit of its water and some dried fruits have additional sugars added during the drying process meaning they can cause high spikes in blood sugar levels.

Along with grapes, we call dried fruit ‘sugar bullets‘! Just because it’s fruit, doesn’t mean it is the ‘healthy option’ as far as your blood sugar levels are concerned.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of carbs in dried fruit, in a small 42.5g pack of raisins, like these, there is 29.5g!

That’s the equivalent of just over 7 tsp of sugar, more than a snickers or 3 pack of Reese’s butternut cups!

One pack of these raisins contains just 7tsp of sugar!
One pack of these raisins contains just over 7 tsp of sugar!

Dates

The question of dates comes up a lot as they are something that many ladies want to eat with the hopes of encouraging labour.

A study published in 2011 on 114 women, showed that eating six date fruits per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated date of delivery significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.

Dates therefore would be a great thing to try if you were wanting to encourage spontaneous delivery, but for those with diabetes, it could be detrimental to their trying to achieve lower and stabilised blood sugar levels.

Dates have around 75g carbs per 100g, which is the equivalent to 18 ¾ tsp of sugar!

Even when dates are paired with protein & fat, they can still cause high spikes in blood glucose levels and so if eaten, the amount should be very small with plenty of protein & fat. This image shows the results of eating dates alone, or when paired…

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is many mums favourite food pairing tools! Absolutely ram-packed with good fats and protein it is great for spreading, dipping, cooking and baking.

Interesting fact: 1 heaped tbsp of peanut butter has the equivalent protein of an egg!

Whilst peanut butter is a great source of fat and protein, these too can vary quite dramatically in total carb amounts, depending on the ingredients used.

Please note: most peanut butters (apart from reduced fat ones) are good, but here we share the ones we’ve found with the lowest carbs per 100g.

Peanut Butter Compared UPDATED FOR 2021

Peanut butter recipes have changed LOADS since I launched my first posts and infographics and so here is the updated list for 2021.

I have not included any peanut butter which contains added sugar in any form in the ingredients. In general, opting for peanut butter made with 100% peanuts is the best option and don’t be fooled by labels such as SunPat’s Protein+ Peanut Butter. Compare to others and you’ll see that it really does not contain much more protein than other peanut butter.

The best widely available peanut butter that is still top of the charts is – Whole Earth Peanut Butter with Pumpkin, Sunflower & Flax seeds

This Whole Earth peanut butter has 4.6g total carbs per 100g and is packed with extra protein and fats from the seeds. Plus this peanut butter tastes lush! It’s smooth peanut butter with added seeds, causing a slight green tinge, but it has a lovely natural taste. It does contain palm oil but Whole Earth uses sustainable palm oil. Whole Earth state:

Peanut Butter (amount per 100g)carbs (g)protein (g)fat (g)
Whole Earth Peanut Butter & Mixed Seeds4.624.356.4
Whole Earth Crunchy Peanut Butter7.427.754.3
Biona Organic Peanut Butter Crunchy7.625.648.9
Whole Earth Smooth Peanut Butter9.226.354.5
Whole Earth Dark Roasted Peanut Butter10.328.946.3
Proper Nutty Slightly Salted Peanut Butter10.431.347.2
Tesco 100% Crunchy Peanut Butter10.627.349.1
SunPat No Added Sugar Crunchy Peanut Butter11.029.047.0
KP Crunchy Peanut Butter11.025.051.0
Whole Earth Hi Oleic Crunchy Peanut Butter11.226.446.9
Proper Nutty Nowt but Nuts Peanut Butter11.531.747.9
Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter11.629.646.0
Meridian Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter11.629.646.0
M&S 100% Crunchy Peanut Butter11.926.448.3
Nuts About Nature Peanut Butter Crunchy (Tesco)11.926.448.3
SunPat Protein+ Crunchy Peanut Butter12.030.046.0
Whole Earth 100% nuts Crunchy Peanut Butter12.131.048.1
Morrisons 100% Crunchy Peanut Butter12.226.448.3
Pip & Nut Crunchy Peanut Butter13.027.052.0
SunPat Protein+ Smooth Peanut Butter13.030.046.0
ASDA 100% Peanuts Smooth Peanut Butter13.026.052.0
Whole Earth Smooth Organic Peanut Butter13.725.651.2
Whole Earth Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter14.227.346.0
dated collated online 26/05/2021

Reduced-fat peanut butter

When comparing carbs in peanut butter, you may find that reduced-fat peanut butter has more than double the carbs of others! Steer clear of these high carb peanut butter as they are too difficult to tolerate and do not help pair carbs as well as full-fat versions

Nut or seed butter

If you cannot eat peanuts or do not like peanut butter, other nut butters or seed butters make a great alternative.

Once again carb amounts vary, with cashew nut butter being the highest in carbs, around 19g carbs per 100g.

Hazelnut and almond nut butter are much lower in carbs (under 7g carbs per 100g) and make for lower carb nut butter choices.

This almond butter has 6.5g carbs per 100g
6.5g carbs per 100g

Seeds

Seeds are another great food to use as a tool for GD food pairing. Just like nuts they are packed with protein and good fats, so are seeds.

Seeds are especially beneficial to those who are allergic to tree nuts.

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, linseed, flaxseed, chia seeds, soya beans are all great choices.

Lots of ladies ask us what to do with seeds, but just eat them as a snack or sprinkle them on top of things; in yoghurt, on top of desserts when eating fruit and cream, on salads, soups for extra crunch texture.

They are great for adding to cakes like my mug cakes or breakfast muffins which can be found in our Bronze & Silver membership section

Chia seeds are the higher carb seed, but with lots of protein and fibre. They contain lots of calcium, antioxidants and good fats meaning they are still a great seed to use on the gestational diabetes diet.

You can make some lovely things with chia seeds as they swell and form a gel like texture, similar to that of pectin which helps make jam set.

Jam (Raw Chia Seed Jam)
Lovely fresh sweet jam but without any sugar!
Check out this recipe
raw chia seed jam

Another way to make use of seeds is to make overnight chia seeds AKA chia seed pudding

Overnight chia seeds
Creamy overnight chia seed pudding. Prepare the night before for a quick and easy filling breakfast
Check out this recipe
overnight chia seeds chocolate flavour

Be careful adding too much fruit, any honey or jam to chia seed pudding as these are high carb ingredients which will spike blood sugar levels.

Or try adding them into a GD UK smoothie.

Blackberry Chia Smoothie
Light sweet but tangy smoothie with little bubbles of texture from the plump chia seeds throughout
Check out this recipe
blackberry chia smoothie
Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie
Sweet, tangy and refreshing. Who wouldn't want strawberry cheesecake for breakfast?!
Check out this recipe
strawberry cheesecake smoothie

Nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butter snacks

Nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butter are great for the snacks between meals after you’ve tested your blood sugar levels which will help your levels stay lower and stabilised.

Use them to pair carbs like fruit so that you slow down the natural release of fructose (natural fruit sugars). Or add a good helping of peanut or nut butter to starchy carbs such as oatcakes or Ryvita. Once again the fat and protein will help make these carbs more tolerable, it will stabilise your levels, give you more energy and stop you from getting hungry between meals.

Try peanut butter cookies…

If you would like a simple recipe for making a nice sweet treat that won’t spike blood sugar levels, then you should try our Sugar-Free Low Carb Peanut butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
Crumbly salty sweet peanut butter cookies, sugar free, grain free and low carb. It's the perfect gestational diabetes sweet treat!
Check out this recipe
3 ingredient peanut butter cookies stacked next to a glass of milk
3 ingredient peanut butter cookies stacked next to a glass of milk
 
Need more help?

For more information on following the diet we advocate, take a look at our 8 golden rules for eating.

If you’re still struggling for ideas and inspiration, looking for extra hints & tips, shopping lists and help with takeaways and eating out then take a look at our membership options.