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Jameson Johnson
Jameson Johnson

What Is The Healthiest Butter To Buy

Mean Girls may have taught us to question whether butter is a carb, but some of these seemingly healthy butter substitute brands (think: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) have us skeptical about whether they're actually better than butter.

what is the healthiest butter to buy

If you're reading this, you've probably decided to cut some extra calories from your diet by opting for a low-fat butter. But you might be in for a surprise: finding a healthy butter that's better for you than traditional dairy butter is the kind of thing that's easier said than done.

Why? For starters, it's a pretty big market. There are low-fat butters made from olive or canola oil. There are butter sprays and mists that promise to reduce your serving size without reducing flavor. Then there are margarine brands, plant butter, and low-calorie butter made with ingredients like buttermilk and yogurt.

Diet butter may be a good choice if you're trying to cut back on saturated fats, trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, according to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-forward registered dietitian nutritionist in the New York City area. Most plant-based butters have removed or greatly reduced these ingredients in their products, resulting in a low-calorie, low-fat option.

"Substitute butters can also work better for certain dietary plans since they can be dairy-free and even vegan, which work for those with allergies and those looking to cut out all animal products," says New Jersey-based dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.

"Transitioning to a more plant-based diet and opting for a 'butter' spread made from unsaturated, plant-based fats can be a great way to help improve cholesterol levels, promote heart health, and reduce inflammation," says Palinski-Wade.

And before you turn up your nose at butter substitutes because of their bad rap, consider this: your classic trans-fat-laden margarine brands are a thing of the past. Now, healthy butter substitutes eschew partially hydrogenated oils for healthy fats. That's a really good thing because a 2015 review of studies published in the British Medical Journal found that trans fats were associated with an increase in coronary heart disease (CHD) and in the number of deaths caused by CHD.

Despite how complicated it seems, there are plenty of smart alternative butter options on grocery store shelves if you know what to look for. That's good news for all the people following specialized diets or trying to meet weight loss goals.

What exactly is ghee, anyway? Basically, it's butter run through a clarification process to eliminate all the water (to create a higher smoke point while cooking). The process also eliminates many of the proteins found in dairy, like casein. Palinski-Wade says this makes ghee an alternative butter spread that's easier for people with a lactose sensitivity to tolerate. It's also especially good for your GI tract.

This brand is probably most synonymous with substitute butters, and Gorin says it's a perfect plant-based spread for many reasons. For one, it's American Heart Association Heart-Check certified. It also has 70 percent less saturated fat and 40 percent fewer calories than dairy butter.

It may even be better for the environment than dairy butter: "All of the palm oil it contains is sustainable," says Gorin, "and its production creates 70 percent less carbon emissions than dairy butter."

Many of the Olivio alternative spreads are suitable replacements for dairy butter, but the Ultimate Spread really shines: the olive oil-based spread is vegan and non-GMO, plus contains no preservatives and a boost of ALA omega-3s, a type of fatty acid found in plants that may contribute to heart health.

Palinski-Wade suggests using this plant-based spread made from olive oil as a substitute for butter spreads and any butter you need in cooking or baking as it has less saturated fat than butter. And according to Country Crock, production of their plant butter produces less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of dairy butter production.

Unlike some other vegan butter substitutes, you can use this brand for baking and cooking. Plus, it's also free of palm oil and is soy, lactose, and gluten-free, says Palinski-Wade, making it a versatile choice for many shoppers.

You might raise your eyebrows at the inclusion of pureed lima beans in this vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, plant-based butter, but Palinski-Wade says the legumes lend a creamy consistency to this spread while keeping overall fat and calories low. This plant-based butter alternative incorporates blended lima beans for a creamy consistency with fewer overall calories and fat.

This spread is dairy-, gluten-, partially hydrogenated oils-, and trans-fats-free. But don't think you're buying an empty tub. Smart Balance lands a final spot as a healthy butter substitute because the brand loaded their spread with heart-healthy oils, omega-3s, and vitamins, so it tastes yummy and is good for you, too.

If you're in the market for a diet butter, you've got 10 great options to choose from. But not all diet butter brands are worth the investment. Avoid these three the next time you're at the supermarket.

Don't fall for the myth here that anything labeled "light" must be healthy for you. This spread misses the mark on several of the nutritionists' guidelines, particularly when it comes to its ingredient list: it contains soybean oil, a ton of preservatives, and artificial flavors. You're better off with full fat butter, honestly.

"Although I like the idea of misting food for a buttery flavor rather than slathering it on, I have witnessed many clients use more than the recommended serving size, leading to them take in many more calories and fat than they realize," she says.

Some aspects of this spread (which is made with yogurt instead of creamed butter) are good. Consider the fact that it cuts the fat and calories by half compared with regular butter. However, there are a lot of ingredients in this spread, like soybean and palm oil, plus preservatives, so it's not exactly minimalist.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol levels and have been linked to weight gain, obesity and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that saturated fat intake be under 10% of total calories each day, and the American Heart Association suggests that keeping it below 5% is the best option. Assuming a 2,000-calorie diet, 10% equates to 22g of saturated fat per day; 5% equates to 11g per day. One tablespoon of butter contains 7g of saturated fat, about 3% of the calories in a 2,000 calorie diet.

It is advisable to limit saturated fats as much as possible. So limiting your butter consumption to just a small amount each day is part of a healthy eating pattern. When you do indulge in this tasty food, shop wisely and find the healthiest butter to eat:

Some vendors offer butter for purchase online. This can be a convenient option as long as same-day delivery is guaranteed. Online ordering may not be available in all areas, so you may have to look for products locally.

On its own, Land O Lakes butter was perfectly satisfying. The dairy used in this butter gave it a luscious flavor and texture that would make it a welcome addition for every mashed potato recipe or on top of a steaming hot baked potato or a great base for flavored compound butter.

This blind taste test proved to our Test Kitchen that Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter is worth all the hype. With higher butterfat content than most mass-market butter brands, Kerrygold delivered big time on flavor and texture.

This pale butter delivered a mellow, creamy flavor that satisfied our Test Kitchen panel. It also seemed to spread more smoothly than other options. Combined with that perfect hint of salt, Challenge Butter is a great choice for your pocketbook and for topping freshly baked dinner rolls.

Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Butter is the butter brand to buy if your fridge is full of free-range and cage-free eggs. Vital Farms uses milk from family-owned dairy farms where cows are allowed to graze freely all year long.

And our testers could taste the difference. Our pros noted a subtle sweetness in this butter brand that often comes from grass-fed cows. Paired with the perfect level of salt, our Test Kitchen crew agreed that this was a terrific option for conscientious shoppers. Not to mention it would taste great melted over a stack of pancakes and maple syrup.

Also worth noting: Vital Farms boasts 85% butterfat while most American butter hovers around the 80% mark and European-style butter has about 82%. That little bit of extra fat provides a richer flavor and creamier texture.

Finding the best butter was no joke for our Test Kitchen! This blind tasting was incredibly challenging. Parsing out the differences between nine brands all made with the same ingredients required a fine-tuned palette and a lot of patience. Our team learned a few things during this test:

Kerrygold butter comes straight from Ireland and is so delicious! It is special enough to use to slather on a charcuterie board or whip into a fluffy buttercream frosting, and basic enough to melt into a sauce or stew, or bake up a in pie crust or cake.

Ghee is clarified butter, meaning the milk fat has been rendered from the butter and removed, leaving only the pure butterfat behind. You can cook with ghee as you would with butter. It's flavorful and smooth, so its great to spread on toast or baked goods. It melts well too, so try it for melting and tossing with panko breadcrumbs and sprinkling over casseroles before baking for a crispy topping.

Vital Farms mission focuses on animal welfare and working with multi-generational farmers, so you know this tasty butter is coming from happy cows and farmers! Try using it in all your favorite buttery recipes like fettuccine alfredo and pound cake.

If you're looking for a butter to make the ultimate garlic bread then look no further! Infused with garlic and herbs, all you need to do is spread this on a baguette and toast it up in the oven. It's also great tossed with pasta or melted over steak, too. 041b061a72


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