Archive for the tag - butter

Is Lard Healthier Than Butter?

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.45.52 AMI get a lot of questions asking if this is healthier than that.

Is brown sugar healthier than table sugar? Is McDonald’s healthier than Burger King? Is diet soda healthier than regular soda?

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about lard. More specifically, is lard healthier than butter?

Growing up in New England, I’m vaguely familiar with lard-fried foods. In fact, a restaurant near my parents’ home in southern Rhode Island still fries their clamcakes in pure lard. It’s worth noting that they’re the most glorious thing I’ve ever eaten.

In recent years, lard is making a comeback. But the truth is, real lard is hard to find. Most supermarkets only have hydrogenated lard, which turns it into a solid at room temperature. Unfortunately, hydrogenation is also the source of unhealthy trans fats which simultaneously boost bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol.

As detailed in a read-worthy article from Food & Wine, the process of procuring lard is actually tedious. In part, this is because many of today’s pigs are raised to be lean. To get enough pork fat to produce lard, you’ll need to find farmers who raise the pigs of yesteryears.

But let’s cut to the point: Is lard healthier than butter?

Despite its really, really bad rap, lard actually does have some nutritional advantages versus butter:

  • Lard is 60% heart-healthy monounsaturated fats; butter is only 45%
  • Lard has a higher smoke point than butter, making it ideal for frying – and less likely to turn burn and turn carcinogenic
  • Lard has half the saturated fat found in butter

While these attributes make a better case for lard than butter, let’s be clear: Neither butter nor lard are healthy. Foods cooked with either tend to be high in calories, and thus must be eaten in moderation.
In other words, lard is not the new kale.But lard may be on the brink of making a comeback in our diets. And in terms of it replacing butter or hydrogenated fats, that isn’t a bad thing.

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How to Substitute Avocado for Butter.

If there’s one ingredient that’s always stocked in my kitchen, it’s avocado. Avocados are full of heart healthy fat, yummy flavor – and I just can’t get enough.

That’s why I was excited to learn that avocado makes for a great butter substitute in baked goods. Doing so dramatically reduces the saturated fat content while still keeping the food both delicious and rich. And fear not: Substituting with avocado won’t turn your banana bread or chocolate cookies green or dramatically change the flavor; you’re only using a small amount.

Here are the tips:

  1. When substituting avocado for butter, a one to one ratio is recommended. A tablespoon of avocado replaces a tablespoon of butter.
  2. Mash up the avocado to make it as smooth as possible.
  3. Because avocado is a bit drier than butter, you may want to increase the wet ingredients slightly.
  4. Many avocado enthusiasts recommend replacing half of the butter with avocado. In other words, if your recipe calls for four tablespoons of butter, replace it with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of avocado.
  5. If you’re fully replacing butter with avocado, reduce your cooking temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burning or browning.

Give it a try. It’s a small but mighty substitution – and every little bit counts! When you make small changes over and over again, it leads to big results.

Want more ideas? Check out these other healthy substitutions.

Bon appetite!

Butter Vs. Margarine: Which is Better?

I couldn't resist...

When it comes to butter vs. margarine, many consumers are confused by the differences and are unsure which might be a healthier choice.

Butter has two issues working against it.

For one, since it’s made from animal fat, butter contains dietary cholesterol; margarine, which is made from plant fats, contains none. Many individuals can process dietary cholesterol with minimal effects on their blood cholesterol levels, but other individuals – especially those with existing cholesterol issues – may see much larger impacts on blood cholesterol levels. In general, it’s recommended that we eat less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day. Butter contains 33 milligrams per tablespoon.

Second, butter has high levels of saturated fats. Saturated fat raises both “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels (but it doesn’t raise the so-called “good” cholesterol levels enough to justify consuming it). Saturated fat intake increases the risk of heart disease. Most people are advised to eat less than 15 grams of saturated fat per day – and yet a single tablespoon of butter contains 7 grams.

Margarine isn’t a walk in the park, either.

The issue with margarine is trans fat. Trans fats have been shown to raise “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol. It’s not a good combination. Trans fats have been linked to coronary heart disease and possibly a number of other effects like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and depression. Of course, not all margarines are created equal – and many manufactures are producing low-trans fat options. In general, liquid or tub margarines contain fewer trans fats, but read nutrition labels carefully.

At the end of the day, it’s really a matter of picking your poison. Both – or either – should be consumed sparingly. Or, alternatively, rather than spreading butter or margarine over your bread, try dipping into some delicious and heart-healthy olive oil with herbs.