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4 Amazing Benefits of Plant-based Butter & Its Side Effects

What is Plant-Based Butter?

Plant butter, yes you heard it right, is vegan butter and a non-dairy alternative to the normal butter. It is made by combining plant-derived oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, palm kernel oil, or a combination of oils.

Plant-based eating is gaining popularity about its numerous health benefits, environmental benefits, and animal welfare.(1, 2) There are milk alternatives, vegan cheese, and numerous other plant-based products including plant-based butter.

What is Plant-Based Butter?

Plant-based butter contains additional ingredients such as salt, emulsifiers, colorings, and natural and artificial flavors, to make them closely resemble the taste of real butter.

Nutrition of Plant-Based Butter

Plant-derived oils or butter are higher in calories and fats.

One tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan butter stick contains 100 calories, no cholesterol, 11 grams total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 120 mg of sodium.(3)

The fatty content and the nutritional status of plant-based butter can vary depending on the types of oils and additives used.

Benefits of Plant-Based Butter

Made from plant-derived oil and being free from animal products, plant-based butter has some health benefits.

High in Monounsaturated Fats

Fats with one double bond in their chemical structure are known as monounsaturated fats. Plant-derived oils and nuts contain monounsaturated fats.(4)

A diet rich in monounsaturated fats are known for benefiting heart health, controlling blood sugar, and body weight.(5, 6)

Replacing monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats is linked with reducing the risk of obesity and heart diseases.(7, 8)

Several vegetable-derived oils such as avocado oil and olive oil are also rich in monosaturated fats, plant-based oils tend to be higher in monounsaturated fats.

Low in Saturated Oil

When compared with regular butter, plant-based butter is low in saturated fat.(3, 9)

Studies show saturated fat can increase the risk of heart diseases, LDL cholesterol level, LDL to HDL levels, and levels of proteins called apolipoprotein B.(10, 11)

It can also increase the inflammatory markers that can increase the risk of several chronic diseases, but more research is needed on the same.

On the other hand, plant-based diets are associated with reducing the risk of heart diseases and chronic inflammation.(12, 13, 14)

Good For The Environment

Adopting plant-based eating patterns is associated with benefits for the environment including reducing greenhouse gas emission and land and water usage.(15)

A study found switching to plant-based eating patterns could result in a 20-30 % reduction in greenhouse gas emission and land use.(15)

Convenient Substitute

Plant-based butter can be a convenient vegan substitute for butter in cooking and on toast.

It can be a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy.

Butter has an essential role to play in baked goods due to its water content and unique texture. Therefore, before substituting vegan butter for regular butter, make sure which brand or product works best.

Side Effects of Plant-Based Butter

Highly Processed

Plant-based alternatives like oat milk are highly processed.

Highly processed foods are low in nutrients and would increase the risk of obesity and heart diseases.(16, 17)

When buying plant-based butter, look for products low in highly refined oil and free of artificial additives such as preservatives, coloring, and flavors.

Plant-based butter, do not provide essential nutrients and should be used in moderation.

High in Omega-6 Fatty Acid

Along with containing monounsaturated fats, many types of vegan butter are high in polyunsaturated fats specifically omega-6 fats.

Diet rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fats have been shown to increase the levels of inflammation.(18, 19)

Research shows vegetable oil to be the main contributor of omega-6 in the diet.(20)

To encourage a balance between essential fats, make sure to include plant-based sources of omega-3 in the diet. The sources include chia seeds, flax seeds, and sea algae. Those who are not strictly vegan can include fatty fishes like salmon and sardines.

Can Be Expensive

Plant-based butter is expensive than regular butter. Some brands can be near twice the price of regular butter.

Contain Potential Allergens

Plant-based products can be a good alternative for those intolerant to lactose or having a dairy allergy, but may still contain possible allergens.

This butter includes soy, tree nuts, and gluten.

If having any food allergy, make sure to check the ingredients of the butter.

Plant-based butter is a vegan alternative to regular butter. Along with being beneficial for health and the environment, it has a few downsides. It is best to moderate the consumption of these products.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 28, 2020

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