Many weight loss clients will quiz me on similar topics within their everyday diet such as: Semi-skimmed milk or Skimmed milk? What’s the better choice from margarine, spreads, light spreads, and butter? Here I will answer this question for you with regards which is healthier for you.
Traditional butter has the following nutritional profile per tablespoon: 100 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat. It’s a steep calorie count for sure, but heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil. Butter is promoted as bad for your heart due its high level of saturated fat which, eaten in excess can boost blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of an heart attack.
‘Spreadable’ butters are very similar in nutrition value however it has more oil added to make them easier to spread. Salted butter contains 1.5-2% salt to enhance taste but further the impact on your blood tension and circulatory system. Whipped butter is produced fluffier, and a lighter product in feel, calories and fat! Manufacturers whip air into traditional butter. Approximately one tablespoon of whipped butter delivers 70 calories, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat. This is a great alternative from traditional butter due to the saving in calories if you’re trying to lose weight and better for your heart.
Margarine and other spreads, You’ll find all sorts of oil-based spreads in the supermarket falling into this category. Margarine is a product that has 80% fat, like butter (very calorific). Many other soft spreads have less total fat as well as less saturated fat and calories. Often, these products tend to support a long list of ingredients. Most of these ingredients (e.g. maltodextrin, monoglycerides or diglycerides) are harmless and used help to keep the product stable.
If the ingredient list includes one of these, then the product is not trans-fat free. Trans fats are very hard to breakdown to burn for fuel during exercise, therefore the trans fat stays in the body for quiet a while. They’re produced through a process of hydrogenation which adds hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make saturated fats. This leads to an increase risk of coronary heart disease, because the fat cell is not naturally produced it becomes a struggle for the human body to breakdown and digest. Our bodies have not adapted to digest hydrogenated foods as this has only been around since the late 1890’s and for thousands of years we have eaten foods freshly produced ‘out of the ground’ or from animals. We shouldn’t adapt to digest hydrogenated foods in the future.
Vegetable spreads have patented formulas so it’s hard to tell exactly what’s in them beyond a blend of oils plus stanols or sterols, plant-based compounds that have been shown to help lower cholesterol. Generally these spreads have about 70-80 calories, 8 grams of fat and about 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Light options have a little less.
Jakes Tip: If the foods you eat contain less ingredients on the product label its a healthier choice as this product has been less refined and manufactured. You want foods that are naturally produced for better health in most cases.
I have highlighted the nutritional value and contents of all types of butters and spreads for you along with the potential impacts on your health. Butter contains some unwritten benefits to health such as good for the health of thyroid and adrenal glands. It is beneficial for those, who are having fungal infections. This dairy product is also said to possess anti tumor and anti cancer properties. It is beneficial for fighting tooth decay and to promote muscle growth.
What Should You Buy? Traditional Unsalted Butter is best for your health despite its high calorie and fat content. Get your hands on ‘grass-fed butter’ and use butter sparingly. This does not mean you should increase the intake of butter within your diet but I would recommend you remove all spreads, margarine, and lards out of your diet immediately. Our bodies have been digesting butter for many years and much more than spreads so we can maximise uptake in your digestive tract better, saturated fats is not proven to deterioate your health when used sparingly, we need saturated fats in our diet for good health, you will not find any hydrogenates within butter and that long list of ingredients on the product label is simplified to foods we know and our body understands.