Butter makes everything more delicious! Spread some butter on toast, and you have a breakfast feast. Throw some butter in a pan with your steak, and you have restaurant-quality meat. Use a bit of butter in your homemade baked goods, and you have moist dessert magic. Nothing makes a baked potato delighful like a pat of butter!
Sadly, butter is VERY high in calories. In just a 100-gram stick, you get over 700 calories. If you examined the average butter content of cakes, cookies, pastries, breads, and dishes prepared with butter, you’ll often find that they are higher in calories than you’d expect–thanks largely to the butter added to the mix.
Here are a few alternatives to butter:
Margarine — This is a VERY controversial one! While it’s lower in calories (roughly 300 calories per 100 grams) and saturated fat than butter, it is entirely artificial. It is even less nutritious than butter, so it may not be your best option for a bread spread.
Olive Oil — This is a wonderful alternative, thanks to the fact that it’s rich in antioxidants and all-natural unsaturated fats. It’s still fairly high in calories, but it is one of the most nutritious fats around. Definitely a good idea to use in your cooking. Sadly, it doesn’t combine well with sweet foods. Use it to replace butter in savory dishes.
Coconut Oil — This is one of the best options for those who want a sweet bread spread. Coconut oil has a natural sweetness to it that pairs beautifully with honey, jam, and maple syrup. It’s also rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and has been linked to more effective weight loss. Definitely one of the best alternatives around.
Vegetable Oil — This is not the healthiest type of fat around, and it may contain a lot of artificial ingredients. However, it can be a suitable replacement for butter in your cooking. You won’t get a lot of flavor from vegetable oil, but it will make cooking easier.
But hold on! Before you cut butter from your diet completely, there are a few things you need to know:
1. It’s packed with Vitamins. Butter is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and even Vitamin K2–a rare vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and can reduce your risk of osteoporosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Yes, butter is high in fat, but a small portion of butter can deliver these vital nutrients!
2. It’s more heart-smart than margarine. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true! Margarine (especially the cheap stuff) often contains trans fats, which have been linked to heart disease. Saturated fat, on the other hand, is no longer believed to be the cause of cardiovascular disorders. Butter causes less risk of heart trouble than margarine will.
3. It can raise your good cholesterol. When you eat butter, your good HDL cholesterol levels rise. HDL cholesterol controls your bad LDL cholesterol, so even a small increase in HDL cholesterol can benefit your body in big ways.
4. It’s diet-friendly. Yes, it’s high in calories, but it’s also going to stop you from feeling hungry. A small amount of butter will deliver a dose of fatty acids, which take your body longer to break down and process. You’ll be satiated for longer after eating butter thanks to these fatty acids.
5. It can promote weight loss. This is thanks to butyrate, a fatty acid that increases your energy output and reduces your food consumption. It will help to lower your insulin levels and prevent triglyceride buildup. Butter is up to 4% butyrate, meaning it will promote weight loss.