Dietitian Chloe McLeod compares butter to alternative options and the additional nutritional benefits they provide


I have recently noticed a resurgence in people recommending butter as a better, healthier option than margarine.

But is butter really better? Better than what, exactly?

While a smear of butter on warm bread can feel satisfyingly indulgent, there are so many other choices that provide better nutritional benefits than either butter or margarine.


Here are five butter alternatives to help people be the judge of whether butter is better.

1. Extra virgin olive oil  
This has a huge array of health benefits and we are lucky enough that, in Australia, we have some of the best-quality extra virgin olive oil in the world.

Olive oil has been shown to help improve heart health, be protective against some kinds of cancer, contain anti-inflammatory compounds, assist with management of blood pressure, be great for the health of our skin, and assist with weight management [1].


2. Avocado
This ever-popular breakfast option provides a mix of healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fatty acids, is rich in folate, vitamins C and E, and is also great for eye health [2].

Avocado is so versatile and can be used in many more ways than just avo’ on toast (although that is an admittedly fabulous way to use it). Adding avocado to salad, sauces or smoothies, or even as a base to mousse mixed with cacao are all great options. Click here, for avocado breakfast inspiration


3. Tahini
Tahini is the name for sesame seed paste. It is rich in healthy fats and contains a compound called sesamol, which has been shown to help slow cartilage degeneration [3]. Sesame is also a rich source of calcium, iron, magnesium and folate, as well as protein and fibre.


4. Natural nut butter
Almond, brazil, walnut, cashew, peanut, there is a huge array of natural nut butters lining the aisles of supermarkets and health food stores. There are pastes that are made just from crushed nuts, without the addition of emulsifiers, sugar, salt or other fats.

These natural nut butters can be used as a spread for your bread as easily as butter, but with much richer nutritional benefits due to the type of fats and fat-soluble nutrients provided [4].


5. Cottage or ricotta cheese
These cheeses should not be forgotten when looking at alternatives to spread on bread. Cottage or ricotta cheese are great sources of protein, are low in less healthy fats, and provide calcium to keep your bones healthy [5].


So, is butter better? Better than what?


This article was originally published on RACGP and has been adapted for dietitians


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