Butter vs. the Fake Stuff

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Good afternoon! This day is FLYING BY and GUESS WHAT?  Our landlord is replacing our hot water heater TODAY — it’s a miracle.  Can’t wait to take a long shower tonight.  🙂


Mid-morning snack:  a navel orange.


And lunch… another variation of the Flat Out Wrap!  Sorry if you’re getting sick of seeing these, I just love wraps (and sammies) so much. 🙂


Today’s wrap was pretty basic:  turkey, cheddar, and mustard.


With cucumbers and carrots on the side.


I had three pieces of Easter Crack (aka Resee’s eggs) and I wanted to take an interesting picture of them in front of Maggie, but she SHOVED my fingers down her throat right as I snapped the picture.  HAHAH!


Isn’t that funny?


Butter Vs. The Fake Stuff


I receive emails from a great site called EBrand Aid, which reviews products on a "real food is best" philosophy.  The most recent newsletter was about what was better — butter or the fake stuff.  I wanted to share the newsletter with you, so here it is:


Butter or butter substitute? It’s an age-old debate that remains a very hot topic for health-minded consumers.  The staunch butter backers wouldn’t dream of touching the fake stuff.   Meanwhile, hard-line supporters of wanna-be butters are more convinced than ever that the real thing will harm your health! 


The food sleuths at eBrandAid have crossed party lines and learned that whether you’re shopping for butter or a butter substitute there’s plenty of margarine for error! 


Okay, so we promise to never repeat that bad pun again…but only if you promise to read on about the "great butter debate." Be sure to spread the news to your friends and loved ones!


The Great Butter Debate:  For the past 50 years or so, butter has been blackballed by the many consumers who believe it causes heart disease or worse, because it contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. 

Margarine was introduced – and accepted – as a healthier alternative with less saturated fat and cholesterol.   Turns out, these wanna-be butters were packed with trans fats (eek!) which we think are actually worse for your health than saturated fats. In fact, as butter consumption ebbed, heart disease boomed!


Fast forward to present day: The dairy cases are jam-packed with “healthy spreads” touting zero trans fats and other smooth-as-buttah claims.  Unfortunately, many of these butter alternatives are packed with additives and preservatives.


The question still churns: Is butter really as unhealthy as we once thought? Let’s take a look.


Reality Check:  True, “getting back to basics” is a popular cry of the times. Guess what? Our food sleuths found that adage applies to butter too!   From a flavor standpoint, butter tastes pretty darn yummy! In our book, there is no savory substitute. But should we steer clear of this spread?   The short answer is NO!


Plain butter is an all-natural food that is made up of only two ingredients – sweet cream and salt. Surprisingly, it comes naturally packaged with many nutrients that can help protect us from chronic disease.

Butter contains: 


  • A rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A – needed for a wide range of body functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the endocrine system in top shape.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins like E, K and D – all of which play a role in helping to maintain the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system.
  • Lecithin – a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fats.
  • Antioxidants – that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. 


Wow – all that plus it tastes yummy! Okay, that all sounds great, but what about the high calorie content, saturated fats and cholesterol… hmm? 


Well, you may not know it, but whipped butter contains half the calories, half the saturated fat, and half the cholesterol of regular stick butter but still provides all the great taste!   But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself.


Case-in-Point: Land O’ Lakes Sweet Salted Whipped Butter   (1 tbsp, 50 calories, 6g fat (3.5g saturated fat), 40mg of sodium, 15g of cholestoral)  INGREDIENTS:  Pasteurized Cream, Salt.

Bottom line: Butter in moderation is not as unhealthy as once thought. The whipped varieties offer less saturated fats and cholesterol, but retain all that awesome buttery taste. Sometimes meeting in the middle actually pays off!


I LOVE BUTTER.  I use it to make all my grilled items (like pancakes!).  It’s cheaper than those sprays and it makes the food taste better.  I keep a stick of butter in the fridge in a ziploc bag and I "paint" it onto the hot griddle before putting my food down.  It can’t add THAT many calories when its just a light and melted-down smear, and boy does it taste GOOD (and it’s cheaper)!


Do you use butter, whipped butter, or fake butter?



  • Dori March 26, 2009, 9:47 am

    I grew up in a margarine-only home. Butter was never an option – but WOW does it taste better. At restaurants I always need to have some with my bread, toast, etc from missing out all those years. I agree, a little bit of anything can’t be that bad. I do use PAM to cook though.

  • Emily March 26, 2009, 9:49 am

    As a baker, I refuse use anything but real butter. Like Dori, though, in cooking some things I do use a little Pam or Smart Balance spread.

  • Tami March 26, 2009, 9:50 am

    real butter all the way. my husband buys smartbalance for himself sometimes

    i have a stick of butter out on the counter all the time. i bake a lot and always use butter

    margarine tastes funny to me.

  • Audrey March 26, 2009, 9:56 am

    on my food i use nothing, i’m just not a butter person at all so i dont even like the taste of fake stuff..when im cooking i use pam and baking i use real butter. i hate the weird orangey ring around the margarine stick, does this gross anyone else out?

  • Katie March 26, 2009, 9:56 am

    I usually use fake butter. Sometimes there’s just nothing like the real thing so I always have butter on hand for things like bagels.

  • Balance, Joy and Delicias! March 26, 2009, 9:58 am

    it’s a great article, it reminds us that sometimes a healthy eating style involves natural food instead of “fake” food pretending to be healthier! 🙂

  • Betsy March 26, 2009, 9:58 am

    Real butter, bottom line!

  • lauren March 26, 2009, 10:00 am

    great info on butter. I actually have both on hand. I love real whipped butter on toast, but keep the fake stuff around as well. Maybe I wont buy another tub of the fake stuff after this tub runs out!

  • Eliza March 26, 2009, 10:01 am

    I found this huge 7 pound log of organic, local butter. We buy that, slice it up, and freeze it. It tastes delicious. I never ate margarine, but occasionally my mom does half + half in her baking. I’ll have to show her this article 🙂

  • ksgoodeats March 26, 2009, 10:03 am

    YAY for hot showers!! I turn beat red in the shower because of how hot I like it! I use butter when I bake but that’s about it!

  • Anonymous March 26, 2009, 10:05 am

    Just wanted to say that I think butter is better from a health standpoint, as long as it is in moderation. However, you should remember that OF COURSE the newsletter that touts ‘real’ food is going to conclude butter is better.
    This source is no good!

  • Ryan (Chase Daylight) March 26, 2009, 10:06 am

    I definitely am a Earth Balance fan, because it tastes exactly like butter and it’s vegan. BUT, real butter is amazing too!

  • Mica March 26, 2009, 10:07 am

    I use real butter, but only for baking and whatnot. It’s not like I come home from a run and refuel by munching on sticks of butter. Ew, that’s a gross mental image.

    Love Maggie, as always!

  • Amelia (AC/DC: Highways to Health) March 26, 2009, 10:08 am

    I do not usually use butter on food, mainly cause it just never occurs to me. That said, I love the taste of it. I am not a fan of the fake stuff. I think, in moderation, real butter is fine and probably better than all the additives in the fake stuff!

  • tfh March 26, 2009, 10:11 am

    I use butter sparingly, mostly because it’s expensive, esp. if you prefer to buy organic dairy in order to avoid bovine growth hormone, as I do. But so delicious, and it makes a real difference in cookies. 🙂

  • therunningaddict March 26, 2009, 10:14 am

    I never really like butter or margarine. When I moved to Eastern Europe I found them in EVERYTHING and it only made me like them less…

  • brandi March 26, 2009, 10:15 am

    we always have butter on hand, but we don’t use it too often.

    I love it though. You have to have a little for pancakes, and we always have it just in case we want real chocolate chip cookies.

  • Amy March 26, 2009, 10:22 am

    I use fake butter because that’s what we have in our house but when I’m out, I opt for real butter. I LOVE the taste of it. After this article, I think I’m going to keep a stick on hand for when I want to use it.

  • Megan March 26, 2009, 10:23 am

    i looooove reese’s eggs!!! mmmmm.

    i dont actually like butter. it just grosses me out haha. but my fam refuses to use anything but the real stuff, so I’d say that’s the way to go!

  • Katherine March 26, 2009, 10:27 am

    All natural real butter is my vote! Fake stuff doesn’t make sense to me… Though I use coconut oil because I like the taste 🙂

  • Leanne March 26, 2009, 10:28 am

    I only use the real stuff as well, mainly for the reasons listed. It’s delicious!

  • Bi0nicw0man March 26, 2009, 10:31 am

    For cooking I definitely use butter…or a combo of butter & oil…as little as possible though. Same with baking, if it calls for butter there's a reason for it!

    For toast, etc we've started using Olivina…which is an olive oil based margarine that tastes about a zillion times better than Becel and the like.

  • Danielle March 26, 2009, 10:33 am

    I prefer butter. I like real stuff 🙂

  • redheadedjournal March 26, 2009, 10:33 am

    ::says in a quiet voice:: I put spray butter on my toast this morning… ::slowly steps away::

  • sweetandfit March 26, 2009, 10:34 am

    i use the real stuff =) as an aspiring pastry chef, how could i use the fake stuff!

  • Jen March 26, 2009, 10:36 am

    Hmm, usually Smart Balance, except at holidays when I use the real stuff. I guess I just try not to have either, sometimes olive oil instead, but butter sure does taste good.

  • Sarah March 26, 2009, 10:38 am

    We use real butter! My (healthy) mom’s motto: Butter is better!

  • Danielle March 26, 2009, 10:40 am

    Up until about a month ago I was using the fake stuff, I thought I was doing the right thing, but then I read something similiar and decided I use butter maybe once a week if that, and the real stuff tasted so much better. But I do cook a lot with Pam and save the butter for spreading on toast.

  • dailygoods March 26, 2009, 10:44 am

    real butter all the way girl 🙂 love it! and its not like we have to use a lot to get a great taste out of it

  • Eatingrd March 26, 2009, 10:49 am

    I usually only use butter in moderation , like for sweet treats! I would much rather use the natural stuff. Most of the time I use olive oil and canola oil. But the stanol fortified spreads can be a great help with heart health too.

  • Missy March 26, 2009, 10:49 am

    I use butter when I go to restaurants and have bread but at home I usually use Smart Balance Spray Butter.

  • Joanna March 26, 2009, 10:50 am

    Hi Caitlin – I read your blog everyday…I love it…my friend and I just started our own, for out 1/2 marathon training…if you want to check it out or have tops, here it is: http://fromthelittleacorntothebigapple.wordpress.com/

  • Haleigh March 26, 2009, 11:02 am

    I don’t use anything but butter after living in Sweden, they swear by it! And my husband still doesn’t like our butter as much as European butter. He says ours doesn’t taste as much? Hmm.. I wonder why?

  • blissfully being me March 26, 2009, 11:05 am

    real butter all the way! i only use butter on things where i will actually taste it like toast w/no jelly (not like waffles where i will only taste the syrup anyway). real butter tastes so much better and i’m all for something that’s not so “fake.”

    and i’m so glad you got your hot water back – i hate going without a hot shower.

  • Hi! I'm Erin March 26, 2009, 11:10 am

    Have you really be taking cold showers all this time? Eeeek!

    I grew up in a margarine household but sometime after I moved out my mom switched to butter and urged me to do the same. Now I don’t buy anything but stick butter. I’m intrigued by this whipped butter idea, though. I really only use it on pancakes and occasionally to cook with. I cook with a lot of olive oil, though.

  • katecooks March 26, 2009, 11:20 am

    for baking with butter, i will use the real thing, but besides that, i hate it all. no butter, no fake butter, no margarine, i can’t believe it’s not butter, smart balance, earth balance, UGH!!! please give me my corn, veggies, toast, bagels, rolls, sandwiches, whatever PLAIN lol. looks like some other people don’t like butter either, whew! it’s nice to know i’m not alone, most people think i am crazy and tell me i can use a little butter when i say no thanks. I just hate the taste, that’s all!

  • Sara March 26, 2009, 11:24 am

    Thanks for the butter information! I use a Smart Balance spread for toast/bread, but when I’m baking I use real butter. Margarine creeps me out. I’ve read before that it’s only a few chemical combos away from being plastic. Weird!

  • JE March 26, 2009, 11:27 am

    Love this post! Like you, I use a little bit the real stuff for pancakes, eggs, etc. A little goes a long way and like the article says, it’s just the basics 🙂

  • Anonymous March 26, 2009, 11:41 am

    Great article. Definitely a lot of useful information. I myself am overweight and I hate how some of the tv shows are exploiting overweight people. For example, the biggest loser. They had them pulling cars! How do you feel about this type of tv? Look at the article below and you will see what I mean. Thanks again!


  • haya March 26, 2009, 11:47 am

    real butter all the way! especially for baking, but since i stopped buying anything else, i use it for everything (though i almost never put butter on bread)

    marion nestle has a good chapter in her book “what to eat” about all the fake butters.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point March 26, 2009, 11:48 am

    anon – thanks for posting the link. i must admit that i’m a fan of TBL and watch it weekly. i don’t think of it as generally exploiting overweight people, but i can see why some people feel like that. i don’t like it when they create unnecessary drama to torture contestants on ANY reality show. i guess i don’t feel like they are exploiting overweight poeple because the show has a very positive message overall and i do think it encourages a lot of people to get healthier. i do think we need to be kinder to all people as a society, especially people who are struggling with health or weight issues. the world would be a better place!

  • Sarah W. March 26, 2009, 12:06 pm

    Eh I gave up buttery stuff long ago – too many cals/fat. I’m vegan now so def no butter. Earth Balance is the toted nonhydrogenated margarine for vegans – its good, but i dont use it often.

    I use butter for hubby’s food 🙂 esp his grilled cheeses mmmmm

  • Matt March 26, 2009, 12:06 pm

    I use smart balance butter. Tastes pretty good to me!

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina March 26, 2009, 12:15 pm

    i dont really like to use butter, unless there is tons of it slathered on bread.

    the only time i am willing to use it is for ANY type of risotto (a small amount adds a lot of flavor), mushrooms, or any other special days.

  • runsarah March 26, 2009, 12:16 pm

    I use earthbalance usually, or I look for margarine with no trans fat.

  • Erin March 26, 2009, 1:13 pm

    Wow, you deserve an award. That long without a hot shower?? I’d be very dirty and very grumpy.
    I actually never think to use butter. I don’t know why, but I haven’t bought it since I moved her (in August) and haven’t needed it.
    I do agree that real butter is no doubt better tho!

  • jane March 26, 2009, 1:29 pm

    i use earth balance- probably the only non-butter substitute that is actually good for you and not full of artificial crap. but if i wasn’t vegan, i’d probably rather use real butter than the fake processed stuff.

  • Simply Fabulous Now March 26, 2009, 1:30 pm

    Your wraps always look PERFECT. What’s your secret? 😉

  • thecleanveggie March 26, 2009, 1:40 pm

    such a great post and thanks for clearing up the confusion between butter and the icky trans fat infused margarine 🙂

  • Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) March 26, 2009, 2:33 pm

    I try to stay away from dairy, and so I don’t use butter. I do use Smart Balance Light occasionally as a spread because it does not contain dairy. However, if I’m baking, I’ll either use real butter or sub coconut oil. None of that margarine junk for me!

    Your basic wrap sounds perfect to me!

  • ms March 26, 2009, 2:50 pm

    I love Smart Balance, even over real butter. But, for baking, I use the real stuff. Margarine just scares me.

    I also wanted to thank you, Caitlin, for mentioning the Orlando Women’s Running group a few weeks back. I didn’t know about the group until you mentioned it. I have actually signed up to meet them for this Saturday’s run. So, thanks for the info ~ you’re just a fountain of information!!!

  • RunningWithin March 26, 2009, 4:46 pm

    I’m a Smart Balance Light user, but I rarely use it, just occasionally on a baked sweet potato or butternut squash.

  • Susan March 26, 2009, 5:02 pm

    I was raised on real butter, my mom always said margarine was unnatural. I used to put it on everything, but I’ve since given it up. Now I only ever put it on plain toast when I get a hankering for it. I like the “painting” the pan idea though! I’ve been using canola in a spray bottle…

  • Victoria March 26, 2009, 5:53 pm

    We use butter, except (obviously) if I’m doing any vegan baking. We use it the same way you do. Wipe down the pan/griddle with it. Although my husband has say he actually prefers the taste of the Smart Balance 50/50 for actually putting on his morning toast.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point March 26, 2009, 6:01 pm

    ms – ur welcome!! maybe i’ll go too… i dunno im soooo busy 🙁 but i want to run with everyone! come up to me if you see me there!

  • livelovelaugheatlearn March 26, 2009, 7:06 pm

    I used to use low-cal margarine, but that stuff is so bad for you. Now I try to just use a little bit of butter@

  • Anonymous March 26, 2009, 7:07 pm

    I’m cooking for 4 – two who only want butter, and two who only use Benecol.

    After lots of research and surfing, I found a couple of butter/olive oil recipes online. For the past few months I’ve been using either butter/olive oil or butter/olive/coconut oil, depending on the dish being sweet or savory, light or dark evoo, baked or fried recipe, etc.

    Success! Just as I sneak in healthy extras like flax, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, etc (I’ll add fruit and veggie purees sometimes too, but only when I’ve taken the time to puree!), no one complains and we’re all a bit more nutritionally balanced.

    Rarely do I use only butter anymore (crab or lobster @home’s such a treat, only butter will do! :)). DH had a better checkup last month than last year too.

  • Lori March 27, 2009, 3:27 am

    Enjoyed the newsletter about butter. I grew up with margarine, but within the past two years it has been nothing but butter for me. I believe in the real stuff and would add that it is even better coming from a grass-fed animals. 🙂

  • runnerskitchen March 27, 2009, 7:42 am

    I am definitely a butter fan. I’d rather have a little bit of the real thing vs chemicals and additives I can’t pronounce. Everything in moderation is my motto! Thanks for the insightful post – very interesting 🙂


  • Melissa March 27, 2009, 12:44 pm

    Ummm yeah…. I use spray butter every so often, otherwise completely sans butter.

  • thechiclife March 28, 2009, 8:36 pm

    I’m a real butter kinda girl! 🙂

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