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Is Butter As Unhealthy As It Is Often Made Out To Be?

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By Author: Kunal Joshi
Total Articles: 77
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While the good ol’ debate about healthy butter in India will perhaps continue to stay on for ages to come, nowadays the percentage of butter advocates surely has increased. In fact, some are even claiming that it is healthier andmore natural than margarine and other reduced-fat spreads. Made from churned cream and a pinch of salt, butter contains about 50% saturated fat. While it is true that saturated fat does increase your cholesterol level, the good news is that it raises both your “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. So the overall effect of the saturated fat content in Nutralite butter, on your health depends on how much you are consuming.

This is where your diet comes into play. Of you are otherwise following a healthy diet, a smear of butter on your morning toast will not be an issue. However, going overboard with butter is never recommended, and it is harmful if your overall diet comprises other food items that are high in saturated fat, such as processed snacks and fried food. You can also opt for unsalted healthy butter and check the sodium content if you are health-conscious. On the other hand, margarine and other spreads with reduced fats are made up of oils that have been hardened but are still spreadable. Since they are made with vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola, and olive oils, they are much higher in beneficial mono-and polyunsaturated fats than butter. These healthier fats increase “good” cholesterol and are also good for the heart. Margarine’s original hardening process often generates trans-fat that was harmful in dual ways- it increased bad cholesterol and reduced good cholesterol. However, these processes are obsolete now, so most of these dangerous fats are now almost non-existent.

That being said, one should note that an olive-oil spread with 16-18% olive oil is not as healthy as good-quality extra virgin olive oil itself, and margarine with a high omega-3 content does not promise the same benefits as a diet rich in fish and seafood. Interestingly enough, most spread-ables are actually butter blends, made from butter blended in vegetable oil. They often look and taste like butter, but the saturated fat content is less. And they are also easier to spread even when you just take them out from the fridge. When it comes to heart health, however, it is not just about healthy butter spreads. You also need to have a decent intake of healthy fats from fish and nuts, or fibre from oats and whole grains.

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