what are the best substitutes for butter — 702-25

Michael Mc Laughlin, SATI STAFF

Lathered on your freshly toasted bread or smoothed onto a corn on the cob; butter can transform something relatively tasteless into a delicious treat. But, with all that saturated fat is it ok for you to eat? David Karz, nutritionist, author, and founding director of Yale’s University’s Prevention Research Center avoids butter as the evidence so far suggests that while it is no bad for us it is not doing us any benefit. That is in comparison to healthy alternatives like olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee among others that bring something nutritionally to the table. When the good for you alternatives are no more expensive it makes sense to ditch the butter for cooking, but maybe allow yourself some on special occasions.

Why do people decide to avoid butter

Allergies to milk are more common than people realize. Even though butter is very low in protein, it contains a small amount of casein, which is a protein contained in milk that can be allergenic [1]. If you think you might have a milk allergy, it is wise to be cautious of your butter consumption. You may need to avoid it entirely if your allergy is something worse than moderate.

Second, people with an intolerance to lactose tend to be able to tolerate small amounts of lactose in butter without experiencing adverse reactions. Nevertheless, some are more sensitive to lactose than others and may need to avoid butter for this reason. Others need to avoid butter because it’s high in saturated fat, which was previously thought to contribute to heart disease. New studies [2] have contradicted any such link between saturated fat consumption and the health of your heart.

Having said that, some studies suggest that the saturated fats in butter may raise cholesterol [3] more than the saturated fats in some other dairy products, for example, cream . Butter is also high in fat and therefore high in calories [48]. People who are trying to lose weight should try to cut back on butter for the purpose of weight loss. Others take a reduced quantity of butter because it isn’t very nutritious when compared to its high number of calories. Might be that the game is not worth the candle. So what are the foods you should eat instead of butter?

1. Avocado

Choosing a ripe soft avocado is a skill in its own right. Break off the stem and check under the bonnet and see if it is green. If so it is good and ripe to eat, if it is brown it is overripe and past its best; move on to the next one in the box. Test to see if it yields to gentle pressure if so you should eat it within a day or two. Still firm? Leave it out for four to five days to ripen at room temperature. When an avocado begins to yield to gentle pressure, place it in the refrigerator. This will slow the ripening process.

Do you adore the taste of melted butter on toast in the morning? Never fear, there is a healthier just as delicious alternative—spreading a ripe avocado. This comes jam-packed with nutritional goodness ranging from heaps of fiber [49] vitamin K [50] and potassium. Although similarly high in fat—this fat is good for you. Monounsaturated fat helps lower bad cholesterol [4] and raises good cholesterol [5].

2. Olive oil

A central part of the mediterranean diet olive oil features in everything from salad dressings to stir fries, but not that many know that you can actually also bake with it. Try using ¾ cups of oil for each cup of butter in a recipe as a healthy alternative. Oliver oil as every Italian can attest to is a perfect butter substitute in pasta sauces and mashed potatoes. The American Health Associate call it a heart-healthy staple [6] loaded with healthy unsaturated fats that are much fewer calories that our golden friend. If you replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated fat (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), you may gain certain health benefits [6].

Olive oil is an essential part of the healthy Mediterranean diet and it tastes so delicious on salads, in pasta and on fish.

MUFAs and PUFAs may help lower your risk of heart disease by protecting your body against related risk factors. Indeed, MUFAs have been found to lower the total quantity of cholesterol in your system and also the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

3. Canola oil

Canola oil is one of the better oils for a healthy heart. Made by crushing canola seeds, it has less saturated fat than any other oil commonly used in the U.S [7]. One look at the comparative nutritional information and canola comes out a clear winner: canola oil has 7% saturated fat, compared to 12% for sunflower oil, 13% for corn oil, and 15% for olive oil [8]. Canola oil puts butter to shame with its ability to cut down on saturated fats helping you reduce your cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also very high in the much healthier unsaturated fats. It’s higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than any other oil apart from flaxseed oil. ALA is important to have in your diet because your body can’t make it by itself.

4. Corn oil

Corn oil is a healthy oil, which we commonly use in cooking, similar to canola oil or safflower oil. Corn oil is a healthy alternative to butter because it is composed mainly of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) [10] and it is low in saturated fat. It is also used as a moisturiser and hair care, besides many other industrial applications. It has many health benefits: The most studied property of corn oil is its ability to lower your LDL blood cholesterol when taken within safe limits [9]. Moreover, corn oil provides essential fatty acids like linoleic acid—omega 6, which is needed for several of your immune system functions. It can also be used as a tonic—linoleic acid is required for proper functioning of the kidneys, liver, heart, reproductive system and digestive system [11].

5. Greek Yogurt

When you’re looking to add protein and moisture to your baked goods [12] without adding a ton of extra calories and fat, Greek yogurt is the answer. The popular health food lends an amazing velvety texture to breads and cakes, while adding a hefty dose of protein. Use ½ cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of butter required [12]. All yogurts are excellent sources of important minerals and vitamins like calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12 [13]. What distinguishes Greek yogurt is its thicker with a creamier texture because the whey is taken out. Also, it contains probiotic cultures which defend your body from pathogens and it has a lower lactose quantity with twice the protein content of regular yogurts [14].


Do you crave butter in the morning? Is no slice of toast complete without its golden goodness? Do you worry about butter’s high calorie content? You are not alone, and the good news is that ghee is a delicious alternative that people are turning to in great numbers. Ghee, or clarified butter, is a dietary source of fat traditionally used in Indian cooking. And, while you won’t see jars of it at the supermarket, ghee can easily be made at home or found in Indian specialist food stores. By making your own butter (or using a slab of unsalted butter), ghee is made by melting the butter at medium heat until it boils. So what makes it a better choice than the old favourite butter? Ghee has a higher smoke point than normal butter, olive oil and coconut oil, making it a better choice for frying food [15].

7. Applesauce

You might be a traditionalist when it comes baking and the thought of using anything other than real butter is not an option. There are many people who refuse to change their cooking and baking habits and that is a great shame for their health. One of the great substitutes that you should welcome into your food cabinet is applesauce. You might have heard the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away; and this old saying has a lot of truth in it. Apples, whether eaten as they are or as an applesauce, contain fiber [16] and vitamin C [17]. Applesauce contains no fat and very few calories. If you choose unsweetened varieties or make your own there is not added sugar for calorie damage. Enjoy applesauce by itself for a healthy accompaniment or substitute it for butter in baked goods to keep them tender.

8. Cottage cheese

Ok, this one is probably not the first substitute for butter most people would think of, but it is a dark horse. Low or non fat ricotta and cottage cheese can be used as a butter replacement in the same way as yogurt [18]. Switch out the butter and reduce the fat content when baking by adding an equal volume of ricotta or cottage cheese. Low-fat cheeses work better than their non-fat counterparts. One tip to remember is never to substitute low-fat margarine spreads for butter or lard in a recipe. Margarine contain a high amount of water, which will distill out as it melts, resulting in a soggy and dense uneatable end product [19]. The good news is that cottage cheese is full of nutrients. A cup of full-fat, cottage cheese contains 220 calories that is around 11 percent of your daily for a standard 2,000-calorie a day diet. Low-fat cottage cheese, made with 2 percent milk, contains just 194 calories per cup [20].

9. Mashed bananas

Try telling your grandmother to switch out the butter for mashed bananas might be met with some resistance. But, if you talk to nutritionists it is a growing trend for healthy baking.  Shockingly, there is 102 calories in a tablespoon of butter [21]. With 11.52 grams of fat [22] butter is no health food. However, it is not the health hazard it was once considered [23]. Bananas help overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan [24] which is converted into serotonin the happy brain neurotransmitter. Eat two bananas before a workout to boost your energy levels and sustain your blood sugar level [25]. Make sure you don’t get muscle soreness during workouts and nighttime leg cramps by eating a banana [26] Counteract calcium loss and build strong bones by supplementing with a banana [27].

10. Hummus

As a spread, think about using hummus. The beauty of hummus is that it spreads just like butter but it’s a super food. Packed with delicious and nutritious chickpeas. By ditching the butter for hummus you will benefit from lower blood pressure [28] lower cholesterol [29] and a lower risk of heart disease [30]. All good news for men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 who are at the highest risk of heart disease [31]. It’s also cancer fighting too with lots of selenium a mineral that is not present in many fruits and vegetables, but can be found in the nutritionally impressive chickpeas. It plays an important job in liver enzyme function helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body [32]. Furthermore, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumor growth rates [33].

11. Nut butter

The first nut butter that comes to mind is the much loved peanut butter. It’s a great nutritional spread and comes with some excellent nutrients and vitamins.The sandwich favourite ingredient peanut butter is not just a great bass for sandwiches but has two tablespoons or 7 grams of protein [34]. This makes peanut butter on toast a great breakfast or mid morning meal choice alternative to butter. But, don’t forget about the delicious nuts like cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, and more are available in your local grocery store and farmer’s market. Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids [35] plus about 66% [36] of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to those found in olive oil. Studies of diabetic patients show that monounsaturated fat, when added to a low-fat diet, can help to reduce high triglyceride levels.

12. Pumpkin puree

Not just for Halloween the humble pumpkin also doubles as a delicious puree which can be used to sub in for its calorie heavy cousin butter. When drafting in pumpkin add about ¾ of the quantity of butter. Pumpkin is great for weight watcher as it makes you feel fuller [37] with about 1.7 grams of dietary fiber per ounce [38] while mashed pumpkin has 50 calories per cup and 3 grams of fiber [39]. It is also ideal for men as pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene [40] and other antioxidants with cancer protective properties. Pumpkin seed oil blocked unhealthy prostate growth in studies [41].

13. Coconut oil

Many people are ditching butter for the allure of the coconut. Coconut oil can replace butter in baking at a 1-to-1 ratio. The one downside is that it can change the flavor. But, the benefits cannot be denied. According to WebMD, 84% [42] of the calories in coconut oil come from saturated fat. Compare that to the 14% in olive oil [43] and the 63% [44] in butter. There is some ambiguity about whether coconut oil is good for the heart health. The uncertainty arises because it contains saturated fat [45]. In reality, it is quite beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid [46] which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil does not lead to any increases in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and it reduces the incidence of harm to the arteries [47] and so it helps in preventing atherosclerosis [48]. Moreover, coconut oil is very useful for weight loss as it contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in weight loss.

The Sati line

If the thought of doing without butter on your morning slice of toast is abhorrent to you, you are not alone. But, there is a growing number of people dropping the calorie heavy golden cube for the dozens of tasty alternatives in the market. For baking you have mashed banana, cottage cheese, and yogurt; when it comes to cooking sub in ghee, corn oil, or canola, and try hummus or nut butter as a nice substitute for calorie-laden butter. Don’t fret about putting on weight when you smear avocado on your toast in the morning and avoid the extra saturated fat by welcoming in olive or coconut oils. Remember that for every tablespoon of sugar you pile on 102 calories. So, it might just be time to part ways with your old yellow friend.