- Butter was once a common staple in our diets. From cooking and baking with it, to having it with bread, many of us may remember it being on the kitchen table with any meal. In recent decades, this “staple” earned a bad reputation.
Butter was even believed to contribute to obesity and heart disease. So, while people preferred the rich, creamy taste that it added to food, many went the way of margarine, thinking it was a healthier alternative. In fact, both of these are nearly pure fat. For those who prefer the latter, it’s important to keep in mind that butter usually has seven grams of saturated fat per tablespoon; so, eating one tablespoon or less is ideal.
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Too Much of a Good Thing
Recently, it appears butter is making a comeback. While many are touting the health benefits associated with butter, there is a lack of balance in reporting the consequences of too much butter in the diet. As with any food that is primarily made of fat, increased risk of health consequences can be tied to too much fat in the diet. These health complications include:
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Less Is More
It is safe to say that some of us just need the real, buttery taste on muffins, breads, potatoes and the like. There are ways to get that buttery taste, without compromising your health. Try using a spreadable option made with:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
Again, remember that while moderation is key, this is a healthy alternative.
Eliminate other high-fat foods by limiting food combinations. For example, opt for a pat of butter instead of a heaping spoon of sour cream on your potato. Try using a seasoned olive oil with bread.
Delicious and Healthy Alternatives to Butter
Olive oil is a healthy option in cooking with vegetables, pasta, and salad dressings. Did you know that you can bake with it, too? When preparing a recipe, simply substitute 3/4 cup of olive oil, for every cup of butter called for. You can use olive oil when making mashed potatoes and sauces, too!
Greek yogurt is another great alternative when baking. In addition to being healthy for you, yogurt can add a smooth texture to breads, muffins and cakes. Simply use 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of butter called for.
Applesauce is another fantastic alternative for baking. It’s low in calories and adds fiber and moisture to baked good, such as cakes, muffins, and breads. Use equal measurements to butter, and that’s it!
There may be some limited benefits associated with butter and other high-fat dairy products. Keep in mind that moderation is key. Just as red wine can be beneficial and heart-healthy, too much of a “good thing” can have negative effects. If you have dietary restrictions, or have been instructed by your doctor to limit intake of certain fats or dairy products, discuss your diet with your healthcare provider.
Based in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and more than 700 doctor’s offices and outpatient centers. Our expert physicians are among the leaders in their fields, and we are leaders in groundbreaking research and treatment breakthroughs. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks as “One of America’s Best Hospitals” and No. 1 in Pennsylvania in U.S. News & World Report’s listings.