Vegan and plant-based lifestyles have become increasingly popular over the past few years. As this transition to veganism occurs, many people have discovered more meat and dairy alternatives that are plant-based and cruelty-free.
Plant-based butter has started to emerge in the market and the recent increase in popularity has caused a surge in sales for non-dairy butter.
Vegan butter is a plant-based alternative to traditional dairy butter and can be consumed as part of a plant-based diet. This new blend of vegan butter is made out of solely plant-based ingredients, usually combining types of plant-based oils with water.
These oils include coconut oil, olive oil, palm kernel oil, and avocado oil, amongst other oil combinations.
As plant-based butter heavily relies on the use of oil, concerns raise over the healthiness of vegan butter, due to the amount of saturated fat in some oil types.
Therefore, this blog post explains in detail the nutritional aspects of vegan butter, and finds out just how healthy it really is!
Nutritional Content of Plant-Based Butter
Though plant-based butter brands differ in specific ingredients and measurements, vegan butters tend to share similar nutritional content. Due to their oil-based recipes, vegan butter has a higher calorie and saturated fat content.
Here is a nutrition breakdown of some of the most popular plant-based butter brands:
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks use olive oils as their main butter base, combined with a blend of other plant-based ingredients, including soy lecithin and canola oil.
One tablespoon of this vegan butter is a healthy 100 calories and contains 11 grams of fat, with 3.5 grams of this being saturated fat. This non-dairy butter has zero cholesterol.
Miyoko's European-style cultured vegan butter spread is another popular choice amongst vegan butter brands.
In terms of nutritional content, one tablespoon of this vegan spread is 90 calories with 10 grams of fat (9 grams saturated fat). Like Earth Balance, the cultured vegan butter does not contain any cholesterol.
Advantages of Plant-Based Butter
There are many benefits of vegan butter, from enjoying healthy plant-based eating to helping the environment.
The main advantages to choosing plant-based butter over regular dairy butter are as follows:
High Monounsaturated Fat Content Helps Lose Weight
Plant-based butter tends to have a high monounsaturated fat content due to their use of oils.
Monounsaturated fats are healthy types of fat that aid weight loss, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. This type of fat is most commonly found in olive oil, which is a key ingredient in some vegan butter brands.
Studies have shown that consuming monounsaturated fat can aid weight loss so long as it does not increase overall calorie intake. For those following a keto diet, consuming this type of fat regularly can induce further weight loss.
Low Levels of Unsaturated Fat Helps Prevent Heart Diseases and Chronic Inflammation
To help improve overall body and brain health, eating low levels of unsaturated fat is great for reducing your overall fat intake.
Too much unsaturated fat, notably trans fats, can have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels, directly affecting the health of your heart. Trans fats are one of the worst fats for your body's health.
As shown in the nutrition section above, most vegan kinds of butter contain little to no cholesterol, thanks to their low levels of unsaturated fat. As such, this reduces the risk of chronic inflammation, blood vessel disease, as well as heart disease.
Plant-based butter is more environmentally friendly when compared to real butter as it does not rely on animal products for production. Instead, vegan butter use plants to make their butter alternatives.
Due to this difference in farming and production, the making of vegan butters produces less carbon and greenhouse gas emissions than real butter. Consequently, plant butter is more environmentally friendly as it results in a smaller carbon footprint.
If you are trying to be more environmentally conscious when eating plant butter, try to avoid buying brands that use palm oil.
Easy Cooking Alternative
Plant butter is just as easy to use as traditional dairy butter due to its similar creamy texture and buttery taste. They tend to have a subtle, natural flavor that does not overpower any snack or meal, making it a great vegan alternative for cooking.
Plant-based butter is also great for using in baked goods as it can facilitate a whipped texture when mixed to do so.
Disadvantages of Plant-Based Butter
Despite the benefits, there are still some disadvantages of plant-based butter that are important to consider. These are as follows:
Excessive Processing May Increase Chances of Heart Disease and Obesity
Plant-based butter that includes oils that have been highly refined may be highly processed. If they are highly processed, they are less likely to include the beneficial nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to function.
Look out for artificial additives when choosing your plant-based butter in grocery stores, as this is a sign that it has been heavily processed.
Consuming too much-processed food can cause ill-health, from obesity to increasing the risk of heart disease.
Increases Inflammation Due To High Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Eating too much omega-6 in your diet without balancing it out with omega-3 foods can cause inflammation.
Many plant-based butters use ingredients high in omega-6, such as vegetable and plant-based oils, consuming too much of this vegan butter can cause inflammation if not balanced with omega-3 foods.
To combat this issue, try to consciously eat more foods high in omega-3 fat, such as chia seeds and fish.
Plant-based butter may be more expensive than regular butter in most grocery stores, which is the case for many plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products.
Allergens May Make It Inconsumable
Due to the more complex ingredients, people may be more likely to experience a food allergy to plant-based butter than regular butter.
Generally, dairy allergies are the main thing to be wary of with normal butter. However, plant-based butter contains a larger mix of ingredients, making it more likely for allergens to occur.
Comparison (Plant-Based Butter vs Regular Butter)
So, which is healthier, plant-based butter or regular butter? Here is the breakdown:
In terms of nutrition, regular butter contains approximately 102 calories per tablespoon. This is just slightly higher than the calorie count of vegan butter, which averages around 100 calories per tablespoon.
Plant-based butter also contains a healthier form of fat (monounsaturated) than the saturated fat found in regular butter.
Despite this, regular butter contains more essential nutrients and vitamins than plant-based butter, with a healthy amount of vitamin A and some vitamin E and B12.
Some vegan kinds of butter may be fortified with added nutrients, however, which will make them equally beneficial vitamin-wise.
Environmentally speaking, plant-based butter produces a smaller carbon footprint than regular butter, making it more beneficial and sustainable for the environment.
In summary, plant-based butter is usually more healthy in comparison to traditional butter and is a great and useful alternative for plant-based diets. It also has a range of benefits due to its healthy fat content, from aiding weight loss to decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Whilst it is generally healthy compared to normal butter, like most foods, vegan butter is best consumed in moderation.
For more health-conscious plant-based foods, take a look at Proper Good meals. Proper Good provides ready-to-eat in 90 seconds meals that are gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, and made from clean ingredients! They require no preparation and provide proper good nutrition!