5 swaps for butter that can improve cholesterol, lower disease risks

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Swapping butter for a mix of olive oil and a high-quality plant oil is better for cholesterol and long-term heart health, according to blood analyses conducted by researchers in Sweden and Germany.

A team from Chalmers University of Technology and the German Institute of Human Nutrition say they were able to accurately measure diet-related fat changes in blood and link them to risks for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Butter has earned a bad reputation by being high in calories and rich in artery-clogging saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease. bit24 – stock.adobe.com

“Our study confirms with even more certainty the health benefits of a diet high in unsaturated plant fats such as the Mediterranean diet,” said senior study author and Chalmers assistant professor Clemens Wittenbecher.

As part of the research, published Thursday in the journal Nature Medicine, the team compared the effects of replacing butter with a mix of olive oil and rapeseed oil and substituting just safflower oil.

Wittenbecher told The Post they found “very similar” health benefits with both swaps.

Olive oil has been lauded for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Rapeseed and safflower oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been shown to regulate metabolism, promote skin and hair growth, maintain bone health and support the reproductive system.

Vegetable oils, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, and seeds including sunflower and pumpkin are good sources of omega-6s.

Olive oil has been lauded for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sergey Ryzhov – stock.adobe.com

Most Americans get enough omega-6s from food, but some experts have expressed concern about a dietary imbalance that favors omega-6s instead of heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.

“Omega-6s are important and healthy essential fats,” Anthony Hulbert, author of “Omega Balance” and an emeritus professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia, told New Scientist in April. “But if they are eaten in excessive amounts, omega-6s will diminish the omega-3 content of cell membranes, driving chronic inflammation.”

For its part, butter has long been saddled with a bad rap. The slick sticks are high in calories and rich in artery-clogging saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease.

Olive oil and avocado oil are the most heat-stable — use them to cook and fry at moderate temperatures. Photo Art Lucas – stock.adobe.com

Wittenbecher says the oils that can supplement olive oil in replacing butter include:

  • Rapeseed
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Avocado

“Among these plant oils with beneficial fat content, olive oil and avocado oil are the most heat-stable and should be preferred for cooking and frying at moderate temperatures,” Wittenbecher explained to The Post.

He believes unrefined extra-virgin olive oil — rich in antioxidant polyphenols — and tree nut and linseed oils, high in omega-3s, may yield health benefits as well.

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