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    Archive for the ‘Earth Balance’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan “Butter” and “Cheese”

    tumblr_l024ebWGmt1qzq14lo1_400I’d love to know your thoughts on Earth Balance “butter” and Daiya “cheese.” They seem relatively non-evil, but I defer to the experts.

    — Jennifer DiSanto
    (Location Unknown)

    Earth Balance spreads are popular among vegans, mainly as a butter substitute.  Depending on which variety they use, they can be used in baking or to top freshly baked garlic bread.

    I am not as worried about them as I am of some overly-processed faux-meat products for a variety of reasons:

    • Whereas it is feasible to eat two mega-processed soy burgers in one meal, most people consume small amounts of these spreads (i.e.: 1 Tablespoon over two slices of toast) at a given time
    • Unlike other butter alternatives, Earth Balance spreads are free of partially hydrogenated oils
    • Earth Balance offers soy-free spreads (for those who are choose to avoid soybean oil)
    • Earth Balance spreads are mainly a combination of different plant oils; it’s not as “Frankenfoody” as other products
    • Most of their spreads offer a fair amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids

    Daiya “cheese” in increasingly gaining popularity in the vegan community.  Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:

    Purified water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors (derived from plants), xanthan gum, sunflower lecithin, vegan enzymes (no animal rennet or animal enzymes), vegan bacterial cultures, citric acid (for flavor), annatto.

    There is nothing about that ingredient list worth raving — or ranting — about.  I wouldn’t necessarily call this a nutritious product (it’s basically flours, oils, and thickeners), but it’s also not horrific.  I guess you could place this in the “meh” category for me.

    The only thing to keep in mind is that Daiya cheese offers a moderate amount of sodium per serving (250 milligrams per ounce, approximately fifty percent more than the same amount of cheddar cheese) and significantly less protein than dairy or soy-based cheeses (1 to 1.5 grams per ounce, as opposed to 7 grams).

    As far as vitamins and minerals go, Daiya offers vitamin B12 (a plus for those who are fully vegan!) but is not a good source of calcium (which, truly, isn’t a concern if one’s vegan diet is high in leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, or is otherwise fortified).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vegetable Oil Spreads

    My dad has heart disease, and his nutritionist said he should not use Earth Balance spreads because they contain palm fruit (i.e., palm oil).

    She instead recommends those spray bottles of fake butter.

    Seems to me like that’s recommending a bunch of fake chemicals instead of a naturally derived product with modest amounts of saturated fat (and no trans fat).

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Hmmm…. that’s rather peculiar advice.

    The key with heart disease is limiting saturated fat, not eliminating it. Additionally, focus should be placed on consumption of healthier fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.)

    Besides, all oils contain some saturated fat — it is virtually impossible to go an entire day without having some of it in our diets.

    A tablespoon of olive oil, for instance, contains 2 grams of saturated fat (10% of a day’s recommended limit for a 2,000-calorie diet.) However, it also packs in 10 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

    A tablespoon of butter, meanwhile, provides 7.5 grams of saturated fat.

    Earth Balance spreads have some saturated fat (naturally occurring in the plant oils from which it is made) but also 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat and an additional 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat (440 milligrams are Omega-3 fatty acids).

    Artificial butter sprays, meanwhile, are fat-free.

    When it comes to heart disease, consumption of monounsaturated fat (olive oil, cashews, avocado, sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds, etc.) is much more beneficial than fat avoidance.

    I say go for the Earth Balance (while still minding calories and portion size, of course.)

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