better butter. is there one?
I’ve cut dairy out of my diet for the most part, but one thing that remains is butter. There is so much controversy over what kind of butter or spread is best for us, so it’s really important to weigh the beneficial and not so beneficial aspects of all contenders. I cut out dairy for personal reasons and butter is the only area I have a problem finding a healthy alternative for.
Margarine, spreads, butter, ghee.
My food philosophy is: the closer to nature it is, the better it is for you.
So, where does that leave me? How much processing do these substances go through? How many different ingredients go into them and what are these ingredients? These are the things I question when choosing my diet.
Margarine– The more I learn about margarine the more fearful I become for our society when it comes to food. I find myself confused and baffled by all that goes into it, so I won’t be explaining the whole process, as I don’t even fully understand it, so you gotta do a little bit of the leg work on your own. Basically, margarine is hydrogenated vegetable oil– an oil that is supposed to be liquid at room temp is put through a process(hydrogenation) to become solid at room temp, with small amounts of dairy added to it–which, by the way, go look up the process of hydrogenation, it’s pretty horrific. Popular oils involved are canola, corn and soybean, but definitely not limited to just those three, and more likely than not you can count on them being GMO. Emulsifiers and “natural” flavorings are added to give it a closer resemblance to butter–color, taste and texture. It’s not something I believe our body knows how to process properly. It’s more of a science project than anything, therefore, I don’t touch it.
Spreads– Just a fancy name for margarine that has had water added to it..so it is “spreadable”. There are non-dairy spreads as well, some claiming no GMOs and no hydrogenated oils, but how does one get a solid out of oils? I’m not sure what emulsifiers are used(soy protein? soy lecithin…more processed soy?), but there’s just too much that goes into achieving the final product for me to be ok with it. There’s also the controversial issue of palm oil and how it plays a part in deforestation(look here).
Mayo Clinic seems to think margarine and spreads outweigh butter.
Ghee- It is a clarified butter that has had most of the casein and lactose removed during it’s preparation. It is pure butterfat, but minimally processed and can be a good alternative to those with lactose intolerance. It’s very popular in Indian cuisine and culture, and often used in Ayurvedic medicine for it’s healing properties.
Butter- Churned cream. Simple as that. Even better–grass fed butter.
Butter wins every time for me. I cannot justify consuming chemical spread just to say that I am dairy free. I still have much to learn on this subject and I encourage consumers to do their own research; it’s intriguing and frightening at the same time. Like all fats, even though a necessary part of our diet, butter should be used sparingly. If dairy is a huge concern to you or you have a dairy allergy/sensitivity there are butter alternatives out there for you, depending on what you need it for.
Everyone had different dietary needs. Inform yourself and then do what is best for you and your family.