Butter FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQ and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

1. What is “better butter” and why is it better?

A. “Better Butter” is regular butter mixed with oil and sometimes lecithin to soften it and make it easier to use at the table. Butter is a ‘natural’ product, not adulterated by humans, yet still needs to be used sparingly (wisely). Better butter is basically a mix of oil, sometimes water and butter together. The oils generally used can be safflower or canola, with maybe some lecithin and or flax seed oil added in. This way you end up not eating quite so much butter (i.e. FAT) which is much too high in most American diets.

2. Why is margarine “bad” for you?

A. When margarine or shortening is manufactured, vegetable oils are stabilized to a more solid form by a process called “hydrogenation”. This is simply adding one hydrogen molecule to each fatty acid molecule of the vegetable oil. By changing the molecule’s structure, the oil becomes solid or semi-solid. This takes a “good” thing (the fatty acids our bodies need) and makes them “bad”. Recent studies published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that margarine and other hydrogenated vegetable oils not only raise your “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL), they lower the “good” cholesterol levels (HDL). These are called “TRANS FATS” (including margarine) and these are the worst type of fats to consume.

3. But I want to cut saturated fats out of my diet. That’s why I’ve been buying margarine!

A. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You actually have it half right. You DO want to cut down on your total fat intake. The USDA now recommends that healthy adults (on a 2,000 calorie per day diet) consume less than 65 grams of fat per day, no more than 20 of them should be saturated fat. You want to try to consume mostly unsaturated fats. Some examples of unsaturated fatty acids in oils are corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, soy oil and olive oil. 1 teaspoon of margarine is 50-90 calories. New research has vindicated coconut oil and placed it in the “healthy fat” category. We recommend only organic, virgin coconut oil instead of butter.

4. Does it matter what kind of oil I use? Fat is fat, isn’t it?

A. Well, not exactly. There are fats and there are fats! 1 teaspoon of butter or oil is approximately 5 grams and 40 calories. Our bodies need two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3), which are both polyunsaturated fats. Linoleic acid is found in several vegetable oils, such as safflower and corn oil. Flax seed is the richest source of linolenic acid. Oleic acid is a mononusaturated fat, which is not an essential fatty acid but is not as susceptible to oxididation caused by high heat of cooking as polyunsaturates, nor does it go rancid as quickly as polyunsaturates. Flax seed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil are all high in essential fatty acids; olive oil and canola are high in monounsaturated fats. In processing, oils can have been treated with caustic soda, lye, or other strong alkalis. They also may be bleached, and then deodorized at high temperatures. Vitamin E is destroyed and rancidity occurs easily. In choosing oil, it is best to look for cold-pressed or expeller pressed on the label to better insure that solvents and excessive heats weren’t used in its processing. Also, keeping your oils in the refrigerator is advisable as well.

5. But isn’t butter a source of cholesterol?

A. Yes. However, in the grand scheme of things, it is now believed that the hydrogenated fats in margarine actually have greater health risks for you than butter does, when used in moderation. In other words, margarine is a worse health choice over butter.

6. OK, OK, I’m convinced. Do you have a recipe for Better Butter?

A. There are several versions of this recipe.
Recommendation: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
Here are some tried-and-true versions:

BETTER BUTTER (version 1)
4 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons flaxseed oil (do not use flaxseed oil if you are going to heat the Better Butter)

BETTER BUTTER (version 2)
4 cups butter, softened
4 cups canola oil
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup water

BETTER BUTTER (version 3)
1 pound butter, softened
1 cup Safflower oil
1 tablespoon liquid lecithin (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 400 IU Vitamin E

BETTER BUTTER (version 4)
1 pound of butter, softened
2 cups canola oil
2 tsp liquid lecithin
4 Tbsp flaxseed oil (do not use flaxseed oil if you are going to heat the better butter)

BETTER BUTTER (version 5)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, very soft
1/2 cup canola oil (safflower oil may also be used)
1 Tablespoon liquid lecithin

7. What about some other butter recipes?

A. Below are some for Honey Butter, and Soy Butter.

1 cup butter
1 cup canola or safflower oil
6 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Blend until smooth. Refrigerate.

1. Mix together 1/2 pint water and 2 tablespoons soy flour. Put in a frying pan.
Boil 5 minutes or until thickened. Strain into a mixing bowl.
2. Pour in 1 pint of soy oil, very slowly as in making mayo, beating constantly.
3. Refrigerate

7. OK, now I’ve got my Better Butter all made. Can I freeze it? Will it work in all of my recipes?

A. Yes, you can freeze it! Be sure to use clean containers with airtight lids. It should work well in all of your regular recipes; however, some people have problems with versions of Better Butter, which have a lot of water in them. It can tend to make your toast a little soggy and cause your baked goods to not turn out as nicely.

NOTE: The current recommendation is that flaxseed oil should not be heated. If you use flaxseed oil in your better butter, don’t cook with it.

© 1995-2013 Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this review may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Parnes

A student of health and nutrition for 40+ years, Vickilynn Parnes has over 30 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and radio talk show host, as well as being full-time mom to 5 children.