Fats, Oils, and Butter — Oh My!

A conversation about butter vs. Smart Balance earlier today sparked a whole bunch of research on my part to find the real truth — which is better?  I share a lot of recipes here, so I thought I’d share what I’ve read.

A major tangent that came up while I was digging was finding out the differences in fats.  I think I learned all this stuff in school ages ago, but I needed a refresher.  Below are two really well-broken-down pages of what the 4 types of fat are (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans).

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/tc/types-of-fats-topic-overview

Dietary fats: Know which types to choose – MayoClinic.com (also discusses cholesterol on page 2)

In (very brief) summation, always avoid trans fats!  Stay away from anything hydrogenated; hydrogenation is an unnatural process that is used to make liquid fats solid and allow them to last longer.  Unsaturated fats are much better for you than saturated, particularly monounsaturated are best, but foods that have any fat have a combination of these types, so reading food labels is critical.

This lead me to the next topic I read about:  which oils are healthy?  Since butter alternatives are generally processed from oils (e.g. Smart Balance is a blend of Palm Fruit, Soybean, Canola, and Olive Oils ), I looked into which oils to switch to, and which to avoid.  http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/05/heart-healthy-cooking-oils-101/ — this is an awesome breakdown of cooking oils and their fat percentages (broken into types).  Here’s another: http://www.fitsugar.com/Healthiest-Cooking-Oils-28306830

One thing I noticed throughout all of these pages is that they count Canola as a heathy oil, while other sources say that Canola oil is harmful for a host of reasons.  Find many of the myths against Canola debunked here: http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/canola-oil-dangerous-or-another-urban-legend.

The bottom line is butter has way more saturated fats than butter substitutes such as Smart Balance, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, or Earth Balance, and the taste is fine by me.

Find other great resources here:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/food-guides/cooking-oils

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/wellness/story/2012-08-21/ellie-krieger-eating/57193954/1

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