What Can You Substitute for Butter?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
- Some of the best butter substitutes include pressed avocado oil spread and coconut butter for spreading, and applesauce and avocado for baking.
- However, butter includes some healthy fats that are essential for your diet, like odd-chain saturated fatty acids.
- If you don’t want to eat butter but are still looking to get those healthy fats, consider taking fatty15, a supplement that provides C15:0 to help with cellular health.
Children of the 1960s remember butter fondly -- it was in practically every prepared dish we ate. Butter was as common on the table at mealtime as salt and pepper, and no one thought twice about adding a pat to their plates.
Things changed in the late 1970s when nutritionists and physicians began to search for ways to reduce the rapidly growing number of men in America who were dying of cardiovascular disease. Americans were worried, science was a bit rushed, and thus, health guidelines were developed that advised us to stay away from dietary fat -- especially all saturated fats -- because these fats were thought to be the culprits behind our health problems.
This change meant the end of butter for many of us, but not the end of our desire for that sweet, creamy spread that compliments so many foods so perfectly. We quickly developed butter alternatives, and vegetable oil-based margarine was the most popular.
Margarine is somewhat of a science project. Whereas the ingredient label on a package of butter is generally one or two ingredients (pasteurized cream and salt), margarine contains at least ten ingredients, if not more. Margarine is essentially vegetable oil, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Not quite our ideal picture of healthful food.
If you’re looking for a good butter alternative, you should take a moment to know that a growing body of scientific research supports that not all saturated fats are bad for us.†
In fact, one particular odd-chain saturated fatty acid, named C15:0 (or pentadecanoic acid), present in trace levels in butter, has actually been associated with positive health benefits. Recent studies support that C15:0 may be the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years, serving to nourish our cells and give them a fighting chance to stay healthy and resilient instead of breaking down and becoming fragile as we age.*†
You likely aren’t getting much C15:0 in your diet, because this good saturated fatty acid is found in whole milk products, like butter. The problem is, by consuming full fat butter, you are also getting much higher doses of “bad” even-chain saturated fats (like C16:0) that have been repeatedly associated with higher risks of chronic diseases.
So what’s the solution? You can look for a healthier butter alternative other than margarine, and you can take a pure, once-a-day C15:0 supplement to keep your cells healthy and thriving.*†
The Best Butter Substitutes
When considering what to use as a butter substitute you essentially have two categories: butter used as spread, and butter substitutes used for baking.
Here are some top choices for each category.
Butter for Spreading
Unlike butter used for cooking, butter that is used for spreading has to have great flavor, and be pliable enough to easily spread on your food. This type of butter may also be the kind you’ll add to cooked vegetables and to your saute pan.
- Pressed avocado oil spread. For spreadability, taste, and nutrition, you won’t find a much better option than an avocado oil spread. Made with just a few ingredients (mostly avocado oil and salt), you won’t have to wonder what’s in your food. Avocado oil spread has a pleasant taste that is mild and flavorful, and contains ten grams of fats per serving, most in the form of omega-9 monounsaturated fat.
- Coconut butter. Coconut butter or “coconut manna” is a coconut spread made from pure coconut, nothing else. While the taste may not closely resemble that of original cow’s milk butter, users generally enjoy the taste and appreciate the lack of additional ingredients and preservatives. Coconut butter contains a healthy dose of fat and fiber, which can give it a good nutrition profile for a spread.
- Ghee. Okay, technically, it’s still butter, but it’s butter that has been heated to remove excess water, giving it a richer flavor and higher smoke point. Additionally, ghee doesn’t contain lactose, which makes it a great alternative for people with lactose intolerance or sensitivity. Because ghee is still technically butter, it has the same nutrition profile as butter, which means it will contain both odd-chain and even-chain saturated fats.
Butter Substitutes for Baking
Finding a butter substitute for baking is a bit easier than deciding on a butter substitute based on butter-like flavor. Used in baking, butter is used as a leavening agent, an ingredient to add moisture, and to add flavor. As such, it’s very possible to use another source that isn’t even remotely related to butter as a substitute.
- Applesauce. Applesauce is frequently used in baked goods such as cookies and cakes as a butter alternative. Using unsweetened applesauce can provide moisture to a baked good and aerate the mix or dough, allowing it to rise in the oven. Additionally, unsweetened applesauce has a mildly sweet taste, so it may even be possible to reduce the sugar in your recipe. You’ll likely use a 1:1 ratio for substitution.
- Mashed banana. Mashed banana is a popular butter substitute that adds nutrients to any baked good, helps reduce total caloric content, and produces the same moistening and leavening effect as butter. If you opt to use mashed banana in a baked good, you should know the taste will definitely reflect the change. It is virtually impossible to disguise banana flavor, so whatever you’re baking will definitely have a “banana” essence.
- Avocado. We weren’t sure about avocado’s ability to fill in for butter in a baked good until it started showing up in some of the most delicious brownie recipes we had tried. Mashed avocado has a flavor that goes almost completely undetected when added to a baked good, making it a great option for recipes where integrity of flavor is important. Avocado is green. Anything you bake with it will likely be green unless you are baking with dark chocolate or cocoa. Avocado adds healthy fat to your baked goods and keeps them moist.
What About the Healthy Fat in Butter?
As previously mentioned, if you want to get the benefits of the healthy, C15:0 odd-chain saturated fat contained in full fat butter without eating butter itself, you’ll likely want to use a supplement.
Fatty15 is the first and only pure powder and vegan-friendly C15:0 supplement available to give your cells all the great benefits of C15:0, with none of the added even-chain fats found in whole fat dairy products.†
How does it work?
As we age, our cells begin to break down. They get flimsy, swollen, and unable to divide and function like they once could. They begin to lose their capability, and become weak and fragile.
When our cells become weak and fragile, we become weak and fragile. Fatty15 can help.*
Fatty15 goes into your cells to:*†
- Protect cell membranes. C15:0 is a sturdy fat that supports your cell’s structure by acting as a shield of armor for your cell membranes.
- Balance your immunity. As we age, our cells’ immunity becomes unbalanced, placing us at greater risk of illness. Fatty15 helps promote healthy, balanced immunity.
- Promote healthy metabolism. When our cells age, the mitochondria inside them begin to slow down, which can in turn slow us Fatty15 helps support mitochondrial function to ensure that our cells continue to generate energy and reduce cellular stress.
- Support red blood cell health. Fatty15 bolsters red blood cell health, promoting their proper function and purpose, so they can carry oxygen to every part of your body and keep the rest of your body functioning as it should, too.
Essentially, fatty15 gives your cells a fighting chance in the face of aging.*† Taking fatty15 each day can help you age on your own terms, which can keep you doing the things you love, longer.
So as you spread that avocado on your multigrain toast, don’t forget your daily dose of C15:0 to give your cellular health the support it deserves so it can keep supporting you.
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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