Walkthrough the fridge aisle at your grocery market, and you’ll likely spot far more options than just butter and margarine. Echoing the burgeoning of plant-based meat substitutes, the plant-based butter market is expanding. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
As more plant-based butter products become available, we may wonder whether they’re healthy.
This write-up reviews plant-based butter’s nutrition content, potential benefits, and how they match real butter.
Butter vs Plant Butter
Given that they’re majorly made from plant-derived oils, plant-based kinds of butter are generally high in fat and calories.
One tablespoon (14 grams) of the Vegan Butter provides :
- Calories: 100
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Total fat: 11 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5 grams
- Saturated fat: 3.5 grams
- Sodium: 120 mg
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2.5 grams
Vegan Buttery Sticks are prepared from a blend of canola, palm fruit, soybean, flax, and olive oils and contain salt, natural flavor, soy protein, and annatto extract (for color and soy lecithin lactic acid).
It’s pertinent to note that the nutrition content, significantly the fatty acid composition, of plant-based butter can vary, depending on the types of additives and oils used.
2. Potential Benefits
As plant-based butter is devoid of animal products and prepared from plant-derived oils, using these products may benefit the environment and your health .
3. High in monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are a kind of unsaturated fat that has just 1 double bond in their chemical structure. They’re often found in nuts and plant-derived oils.
4. Lower in saturated fat
Compared with conventional butter, plant-based butter are usually lower in saturated fat.
Despite common recommendations, studies haven’t found a significant link between saturated fat intake and the risk of chronic conditions like stroke or heart disease .
5. Better for the environment
Adopting a more plant-based consumption pattern and a reduced intake of animal products has been linked with benefits for the environment, such as decreased greenhouse gas emissions and water and land usage .
One review of sixty-three studies found that switching from a traditional Western diet to a plant-based, a sustainable eating pattern could result in a 20–30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and land use.
6. Convenient substitution
As several products are designed to have a mouthfeel and flavor similar to conventional butter, plant-based butter can be a convenient vegan alternative to cooking and toast.
They can also be a good butter substitute for those who have an allergy to dairy or lactose-intolerant individuals. As these products are vegan, they’re also ideal for those with an allergy to fish, egg, or shellfish.
So, Are Plant-Based Butters Healthier Than Real Butter?
The answer to this question is dependent on the person’s diet.
Suppose someone is on a mission to improve their cholesterol levels, and their diet is already abundant in saturated fats. In that case, it is suggested to go for one of the plant-based options that’s lower in saturated fat.
But if you consume a fairly nutritious diet that’s comparatively low in saturated fat and your cholesterol levels fall within a normal range, taking regular butter once in a while in little amounts is not of grave concern. Regardless of what type of fat you opt for, portion control is vital.
The ideal diet includes everything in moderation — but from a nutritional standpoint, we are behind real butter! The nostalgic gratification of spreading butter on your toast will satisfy you immensely, which can further enable you to mindfully eat and sense your internal cues of satisfaction and fullness. We do encourage that you increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet but prefer minimally-processed ones.
Consumers should be watchful that these plant-based options have been around for several years under a different name: margarine. The blend of vegetable oils may have changed, but the idea is the same. Today, most oil used is palm oil, which has about the same quantity of saturated fat as actual butter per tablespoon.
Usually, saturated fat is found in animal products, but 2 exceptions are palm and coconut oils (2 plant-based oils that vegan butter is often prepared from). Whether saturated fat from plant or animal products has the same cardiovascular effects remains a great debate topic.
One thing we do know, though: Unlike saturated fats, which are linked to cardiovascular disease, monounsaturated fats can support reducing your levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, which can lower your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, per the AHA (American Heart Association).
That’s why consuming abundant food sources of these fats — in as close to their original form as possible — is your heart-healthiest route. Mashed avocado, natural peanut butter, and olive oil are among our naturally vegan, monounsaturated-fat favorites.
Plant-based butter is a vegan substitute for conventional dairy butter. In general, plant-based butter products are higher in monounsaturated fat and lower in saturated fat than regular butter. They may also be great for the environment. However, few brands are more highly processed than others. As a result, it’s essential to select products that contain fewer artificial additives and refined oils.
Moreover, some products may be more difficult or expensive to find than conventional butter. Overall, plant-based butter is a calorie-rich food that’s low in vital nutrients. Therefore, it’s wise to take these products in moderation and get the bulk of your calories from nutritious whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts.