Spread On Toast: A Comparison on Butter, Jam and More

Not many people think of plain toast as a very fulfilling breakfast, so most of us dress it up with some kind of a spread. Which spread you use - and how much - can have a dramatic impact on how much nutrition (and protein, calories and sugar) you get out of your breakfast. Because spreads are to be put on toast (high in carbs), I always recommend choosing a spread with some protein; it helps you feel full longer and gives you the energy you need! Here is a look at some popular spreads and how much protein and calories are in 1 tablespoon.

Toast Spread Calories and Protein

Nutritional Impacts of Common Spreads for Toast

Peanut butter

Not many spreads can boast peanut butter's versatility. It provides a dose of carbohydrates for an energy boost, bundled with the full-feeling provided by protein and monounsaturated fat - a heart-healthy fat that lowers total cholesterol and LDL ("bad" cholesterol), while boosting HDL ("good" cholesterol). Peanut butter also contains Vitamin E, fiber, niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Everything I have just said now, only refers to natural peanut butter though. The main difference between "natural" and "not-so-natural" peanut butter. Natural peanut butter only contains peanuts and salt on it's ingredient list. Un-natural PB can contain a list of unwanted ingredients, like sugar, palm oil, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, mono and diglycerides etc.

  • 100 calories
  • 3 g protein 

Nutella

Boasting that it contains 50 hazelnuts per jar, Nutella is marketed as a healthy breakfast choice for children. But what the commercials don't tell you is that Nutella has more sugar and palm oil than hazelnuts. Indeed, 40% of the calories come from sugar alone. It's ok to enjoy this hazelnut-based chocolate spread once in a while as dessert; it's just not a wholesome breakfast item. 

  • 100 calories
  • 1 g protein

Almond Butter

It's very similar to peanut butter except for the nutty, almond butter taste. Most almond butter on the market is natural, meaning it's just almonds and perhaps salt. But I'm frustrated to begin seeing unnatural brands with palm oil and sugar creep onto store shelves. 

  • 85 calories
  • 2.5 g protein

Sunflower Seed Butter

Personally I prefer the taste of sunflower seed butter to almond butter! But I have got to warn you, sunflower seed butter has a green tint which some might odd. On the flip side, it makes for an interesting talking point with kids. So far, I have only come across natural sunflower seed butter, and I'm just praying no manufacturer taint its name by selling an unnatural version.

  • 85 calories
  • 3 g protein

Butter

Our urge to eat more natural has made butter a huge comeback! Yes butter is natural, but that doesn't mean I want to spread it on my toast every morning. It only gives me calories, but not the protein I want. I still use it once in a while, but just not everyday.

  • 100 calories
  • 0 g protein

Margarine

When margarine was first introduced to the marketplace to replace butter's saturated fat, it was loaded with trans fat. In recent years, food manufacturers have created non-hydrogenated margarine, which contains no trans fat, and is softer than the first-generation margarine products. When you shop, also remember to look for non-hydrogenated vegetable oil on the ingredient list to make sure you're not getting any trans fats. Most margarines still contain a long list of ingredients, and sometimes may even include coloring. You must read the ingredient list carefully to avoid unwanted artificial ingredients.

  • 100 calories
  • 0 g protein

Cream Cheese

You may think of cream cheese as a good bagel companion which can boost your daily dairy servings. But did you know that cream cheese actually contains much more fat than calcium? Cream cheese provides hardly any calcium per serving. In fact, most dark green vegetables pack more of a calcium punch than cream cheese. 

  • 50 calories
  • 1 g protein

Jam

Jam can be a refreshing way to start your morning, but don't fool yourself that you're getting a serving of fruit. Most of the calories in many varieties of jam come from sugar, sometimes even high fructose corn syrup. Even "sugar-free" jams are often sweetened with artificial sweeteners. When you shop, look for jam made with its own natural juice that has no added sugar and no artificial sweeteners.

  • 50 calories 
  • 0 g protein

Honey

Spreading honey on toast is not restricted to the English any longer. Lately "honey toast" has been very popular in Japan and Taiwan. Primarily a dessert item, honey is drizzled on very thick toast. And if you haven't tried it, I'd recommend you to give Manuka honey a try. I was not a honey fan before, but Manuka honey's distinct flavor and fragrant totally got me hooked!

  • 60 calories
  • 0 g protein

Which Spread to choose for breakfast?

As I've said above, the ideal spread is the one that provides some protein. Therefore I always go for the natural nut butters. However, if you choose other kinds of spreads, the most important thing is to watch your portion sizes. One tablespoon is the standard. You can estimate a tablespoon by looking at your thumb. A serving size about the size of the tip of a woman's thumb is 1 tablespoon. One tablespoon of any of these spreads is an okay way to start your day, but piling on extra spoonfuls can pack on extra calories fast.

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