We are having a discussion about whether buttery spread – such as Smart Balance is better than using butter?!?!
what do you think??
Claire from Los Angeles
Smart Balance is not good for you in the relative scheme of things. It is a chemical conglomeration of esterified oils – which means they take all these different oils, blast them apart, combine them with caking agents which come together to form this new age margarine. Its WAAAY better than old fashioned margarine, made from trans fat, but still not a natural food. That stuff about the flaxseed oil helping is really nonsense – processing destroys the bioavailabilty of omega-3s.
Ideally, you want to eat your essential fats, that is Omega3 and Omega6, in a 1:1 ratio. Most Americans get about 15-20X more Omega6 than Omega3, precisely because of this processing problem. Omega3 is very sensitive – it will degrade at room temperature even – and only in a small number of foods (flax, walnuts, wild salmon). Omega 6 is everywhere and stands up to heat and processing much better…so you can see where this goes. Smart Balance will have a high Omega6:3 ratio – making it an inflammatory food.
We would much rather see you eating butter, but realize the type of butter you are eating here is key. You really want to find butter from grass fed cows. This type of butter will tend to be a bright yellow orange – the more orange the better. This is an outward indication the cows feed on grass, which is rich in beta-carrotene – an orange flavonoid that will tint your butter (it will be more orange in the spring, when grass first starts to grow). This is an unrefined, real food that contains high amounts of omega3 fats along with a dizzying array of vitamins and minerals – all very bioavailable. Try and find Raw, Grass Fed butter if you can – this is even better for you.
People lament that butter is high in saturated fats, which have been linked to heart disease. While this is true, that information is related to a more outdated view of heart disease. Heart disease is truly an inflammatory disease, not one of cholesterol. Its when cholesterol gets oxidized that we have problems and eating natural foods decreases inflammation in the body. Additionally, there is no research to back up the idea that saturated fats even translate into cholesterol in the body – the mechanisms are very very complex and still not fully understood.
The degree of processing in foods is always an indication of whether or not you should be eating them. ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM PROCESSED FOODS! Ignore whatever the label says – you have no idea how bought and paid for those labels are. Smart Balance is highly processed; if it was not, the oils would simply separate and youd have something along the lines of salad dressing. Butter is clearly the winner here.
Ok – one more question
Salted or unsalted butter?? – or is that an obvious one?
The salting is important but pretty irrelevant considering how little the amount of salt in your butter will contribute to your overall salt intake. The big thing to pay attention to in all your food is the quality of inputs – by that I mean, how good was the stuff that went into making it?
If you buy butter from factory farm cows – who eat crap corn product, it once again creates that high Omega6:Omega3 inflammatory fat ratio, much like Smart Balance. If you get butter from pasture cows that eat grass and hay like they are supposed to (they have 2 stomachs for a reason!), the nutrient profile increases dramatically.
This ideology extends into everything you eat. If you put an organic carrot next to conventionally grown carrot, you probably wont see a difference – but your body will. Organics come from soil not artificially enriched and not bathed in hormone disrupting pesticides – which is why they are always preferred.
Of course finding these foods is always hard, not to mention their cost after you have found them.
For cooking, the most readily available unrefined oil is extra virgin olive oil. You want to use it in low heat cooking (steaming) because it can oxidize easily due to its monounsaturated fat chemical alignment. For higher heat cooking (BBQ, Sauté), use raw coconut oil or the grass fed butter – they are saturated fats, which can take heat very well. Both the oils are readily available if you have trouble finding grass fed butter.