As more people are switching to plant-forward diets, manufacturers are introducing new types of plant-based food products. This is because of the multitude of health benefits such an eating pattern endows upon the individual. You must also remember that by following this type of diet, you prioritize eating more plant-based food and less or no animal-based food. Also, plant-based dairy substitutes are used by those who are lactose intolerant, as well as those following plant-forward diets. In this article, we will investigate whether plant-based butter is a healthy alternative to real butter.
What Is Plant-Based Butter?
Plant-based butter is like plant-based milk, i.e. it is a dairy substitute, and it is available in the form of sticks or tubs. It is made using fat derived from olive, coconut, palm kernel, and other plant-derived oils. Also, it contains 6 to 11 grams of fat and 60 to 100 calories per tablespoon. This makes its macronutrient level similar to that of traditional butter. Above all, it is a healthier choice because it has lower amounts of saturated fats.
Nowadays, many people are eating more plant-based foods due to their better nutritional profile and the subsequent health benefits. Also, plant-forward diets are popular among environmental activists due to the reduced carbon footprint of following such an eating pattern. Last but not least, it is also suitable for those who want to maintain a healthy weight.
Is Plant-Based Butter Healthier Than Real Butter?
The answer to this question depends on the purpose of the person using plant-based butter. If the person has high cholesterol levels, then it is good. This is because it is made using fats derived from plant sources, and most of them are not saturated fats. Also, if you are following a balanced plant-based diet that is low on saturated fat, then it is not mandatory to use plant-based butter.
You must know that regular butter, as well as palm and coconut oils, contain saturated fats. One of the biggest debates is whether fat from animal and plant-based sources have the same cardiovascular effects. Unlike saturated fats, monounsaturated fats derived from plant sources can lower LDL or bad cholesterol levels. This can reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
How Is Plant-Based Butter Different From Dairy Butter?
Compared to traditional butter, plant-based butter has more ingredients, and this is explained in detail below.
The main macronutrient in plant-based butter are the different types of fats, and they are the following:
- Saturated Fat: Depending on the brand, 1 tablespoon of vegan butter can have 2 to 8 grams of saturated fat.
- Monounsaturated Fat: A tablespoon of vegan butter can have 2.5 to 4 grams of monounsaturated fat.
- Polyunsaturated Fat: A tablespoon of vegan butter contains 0.5 to 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat.
You must bear in mind that we should focus more on the types of fat that we consume rather than on the total amount of fat consumed. Poly and monounsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats. Also, when buying plant-based butter, choose a brand that has a better fatty acid profile. That said, you must not forget that it is a calorie-dense plant-based food, and hence you must limit its consumption.
Usually, plant-based or vegan butter is made by combining fat derived from different plant sources. Also, try to choose those that have fewer ingredients, and free from artificial colors and flavors.
What To Look For In Plant-Based Butter?
The following are the three main points that you must consider when buying plant-based butter:
- The ingredients
- Nutritional profile
When buying plant-based butter, look for one that has minimal ingredients and is less processed. The presence of artificial flavors and colors indicates that it is of lower quality. Apart from this, check the oils used for making the butter as they are the main ingredients. Products made using olive oil, avocado oil, and nut oils are also good options. Coconut oil is one of the main ingredients in many vegan kinds of butter, which indicates that the butter will not break down at high temperatures. However, some manufacturers use palm oil, and you must watch for it. This is because it is a plant-based food product that adversely affects the environment.
Many people frequently use plant-based butter as a spread on their toast for breakfast. So, it is important to choose one that has lower amounts of saturated fats and higher amounts of monounsaturated fat. That said, plant-based butter with higher amounts of saturated fat is better for baking as it gives a better texture and holds up better to high heat. Furthermore, check the sodium content of the product if you are on a low sodium diet.
Since the fat used in vegan butter is derived from plant-based sources, it might contain other plant compounds that you may be allergic to. So, check whether it is made using tree nuts, soy, or gluten. Also, most reputed manufacturers will either note or use bold characters to highlight if an allergen is present.
These are the important points that you must know about plant-based butter.