Cooking fats to be avoided or limit the amount

Cooking fats to be avoided or limit the amount according to Canada's food guide recommendation

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Cooking fats are an essential part of our daily diets. They are a significant energy source and help protect our vital organs. However, not all cooking fats are created equal. Some are healthier, while others are not. As per Canada’s food guide recommendation, there are certain cooking fats that we should avoid or limit to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. These fats are often high in saturated and trans fats, increasing our risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health issues. In this article, we will explore the different types of cooking fats, their benefits and risks, and which ones we should consume in moderation or avoid altogether. By understanding the role of fats in our diet and making informed choices, we can ensure a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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This article is part of “Discover how to choose cooking oils wisely

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Canada’s food guide recommends avoiding or using sparingly those cooking fats due to their potential adverse effects on health.

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Margarine

Margarine is a spread made from plant-based oils. It is often mixed with milk and other ingredients to give it a creamy texture. They are white to yellow, with neutral or butterlike flavour and solid consistency. Originally developed in the 1800s as a cheaper alternative to butter, margarine became popular during the two world wars when butter was scarce. It remains a popular spread today due to its lower cost and lower saturated fat content than butter. Margarine is used for spreads and in cooking. It has a high melting point, produces tender products, and is especially popular in puff pastes. Margarine is high in unsaturated fats that help reduce “bad” cholesterol linked to heart disease. Margarine is rich in vitamin E. Unless fortified with micronutrients during manufacturing, there are no other nutrients in significant content. Vitamin A, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may be added for fortification. However, margarine has received criticism for its use of trans fats, which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In response to these concerns, many margarine manufacturers have switched to using healthier oils and removing artificial trans fats.

margarine


20-40%
PUFA
20-40% MUFA
10-20% Saturated
Smoke Point: 175-210°C/350-410°F

Is margarine a health choice?

During the manufacture of margarine, makers may convert some unsaturated fat into hydrogenated or trans fats to give them a higher melting point. Hence, they stay solid at room temperature. Unlike essential fatty acids, trans fatty acids are not necessary and provide no known benefit to human health besides providing calories. Several extensive studies have indicated a link between consumption of high amounts of trans fat and coronary heart disease, and possibly some other diseases, prompting several government health agencies worldwide to recommend that the intake of trans fats be minimized. Replacing saturated and trans unsaturated fats with nonhydrogenated monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is more effective in preventing coronary heart disease than reducing overall fat intake. So choosing brands that are free from them and high in unsaturated fats is important.

Margarine is very high in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for health. They include the essential fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), abundant in plant-based oils grown in temperate climates. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is typically 5:1 to 10:1. Large amounts of omega-6 decrease the effect of omega-3. Therefore, it is recommended that the ratio in the diet should be less than 4:1. However, the optimal ratio may be closer to 1:1.

Typical soft tub margarine contains 10% to 20% of saturated fat. It is recommended saturated fat intake to be as low as possible.

Nutritionally, margarine is primarily a source of calories.
Moderation is essential, so using margarine in a balanced diet is best.

How to choose the better choice?

When shopping for margarine or spread, there are some pointers on choosing one with “better” ingredients.

Look for a product with at least twice as much polyunsaturated as saturated fat

Most margarine products have labels telling how much saturated and polyunsaturated fat they contain. If a brand doesn’t give you a breakdown of fats, be suspicious. Although all the oils commonly used in margarine are high in polyunsaturated and low in saturated fat, they vary substantially.
Vegetable fats can contain anything from 7% to 86% saturated fatty acids. Liquid oils (canola oilsunflower oil) tend to be on the low end, while tropical oils (coconut oilpalm oil) and fully hardened (hydrogenated) oils are at the high end of the scale. Generally, firmer margarine contains more saturated fat.

Be wary of sodium content

Be wary of sodium content, which tends to be relatively high.

Look for a product with Omega-3 fatty

Omega-3 fatty acids are mainly obtained from oily fish caught in high-latitude waters. They are comparatively uncommon in vegetable sources, including margarine. However, one type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can be found in some plant-based oils. Flaxseed oil contains 50-65% of ALA and is becoming a popular dietary supplement to rival fish oils; both are often added to premium margarine.
An ancient oil plant, Camelina sativa, has recently gained popularity because of its high omega-3 content (30-45%) and has been added to some kinds of margarine.

Look for a product that does not contain trans fats

For a long time, margarine was a danger because it was high in trans fat, which contributes to heart disease. However, nowadays, people are wise to the dangers of trans fats, so most margarine does not contain trans fats because they are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, it’s still not a good choice for consumption. Still, check the label. If a hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is listed first, the product may contain more trans fats than you want.

Check the ingredients

Some margarine is mostly a mix of canola and soybean oils.
Soybean oil is too high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can lead to inflammation and other diseases.
Canola oil is highly processed and treated with chemical deodorizers and solvents.
On top of that, some brands also include safflowersunflower, and corn oil, which are notoriously high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Vegetable oil spreads

Vegetable oil spreads contain less than the 80% fat by weight required in margarine, but this does not necessarily make them more healthful than regular margarine.

Diet or reduced-calorie margarine

Diet or reduced-calorie margarine though all of its calories still come from fat (about 45 % fat by weight), it is diluted with water, so it has half the fat and calories of regular margarine per tablespoon. It is not, however, suitable for cooking.

Butter-margarine blends

Butter-margarine blends are anywhere from 15 to 40 % butter. Thus they contain some of the butter’s saturated fat and its taste.

Cholesterol-lowering spreads

Cholesterol-lowering spreads are margarine brands that can lower total blood cholesterol by an average of 10% when eaten in sufficient quantities daily. They are stated to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels without adversely affecting HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. These cholesterol-lowering spreads are intended to be taken in daily doses (each slightly different) to have a beneficial effect.

What type of fatty acids are in Margarine?

The specific composition of fatty acids in margarine can vary depending on the brand and manufacturing process. However, here are some general characteristics:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

Margarine can contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Generally, margarine is made from plant-based oils, a good source of PUFAs. The percentage of PUFAs may vary depending on the specific formulation of the margarine. It is common for margarine to contain around 20-40% PUFAs.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Margarine can also contain monounsaturated fatty acids, which are considered healthier fats. The percentage of MUFAs in margarine can vary depending on the brand and type. However, most margarines contain MUFAs in the 20-40% range.

Saturated fatty acids

Margarine can contain varying levels of saturated fatty acids. Compared to butter, margarine often has a lower saturated fat content. However, the exact percentage may vary between different brands and types of margarine. Generally, margarine contains around 10-20% saturated fats. However, some brands offer reduced-fat or low-saturated fat options that may have even lower percentages.

Trans fatty acids

Traditionally, margarine was made through hydrogenation, which produced trans fats. However, many manufacturers have shifted towards using alternative processes to reduce or eliminate trans fats in margarine. As a result, the percentage of trans fatty acids in margarine can vary, and some brands may offer trans-fat-free options.

Smoke point

The smoke point of margarine depends on the specific brand and formulation. Generally, margarine has a higher smoke point than butter, making it suitable for various cooking methods, including sautéing and baking. Typically, the smoke point of margarine ranges from 175-210°C/350-410°F. It is important to note that different types of margarine may have different smoke points, so it is always a good idea to check the packaging or consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidelines on the margarine’s smoke point.

It’s important to note that margarine’s composition and nutritional profile can vary significantly between different brands and types.
It’s recommended to check the nutrition label or contact the manufacturer for specific information on the type and amount of fatty acids present in a particular brand of margarine.

What is Margarine made from?

Margarine is typically made from plant-based oils. The specific plant-based oils used can vary depending on the brand and manufacturing process. Commonly used plant-based oils include soybeancorncanolasunflower, or a combination of these oils.
In addition to plant-based oils, margarine contains emulsifiers, such as lecithin, to help stabilize the mixture and salt for flavour. Some varieties of margarine may also have added vitamins and colours.
It is worth noting that there are different types of margarine available on the market, including regular, light, and non-hydrogenated margarine. The specific ingredients and manufacturing processes can vary between these types.

What is Margarine best for?

Margarine is a versatile spread that can be used in cooking and baking for various purposes. Here are some common uses for margarine:

Spreading

Margarine can be spread on bread, toast, bagels, or other baked goods as a butter substitute. It offers a smooth and creamy texture, making it a popular choice for those who prefer a non-dairy option.

Cooking

Margarine can be used for sautéing, frying, or pan-frying due to its higher smoke point than butter. It can add flavour and enhance the browning of vegetables, meat, and other ingredients.

Baking

Margarine can be used in baking cakes, cookies, pie crusts, and pastries. It provides a tender texture and can help create flaky layers in baked goods.

Vegan and dairy-free diets

Margarine is a common choice for individuals following vegan or dairy-free diets as it contains no animal products. It can be used as a substitute for butter in various recipes.

Lowering saturated fat

Margarine made with healthier oils and low in saturated fats can be used as a substitute for butter to help reduce saturated fat intake.

When using margarine in recipes, it is important to consider its specific type and formulation, as it can vary between brands. It’s always a good idea to refer to the specific instructions on the product packaging or consult recipe guidelines for the best results.

What is Margarine not recommended for?

While margarine is a versatile spread, there are certain uses for which it may not be recommended. Here are a few considerations:

Flaky Pastry

Margarine can be used in pastry recipes but may yield different flakiness and flavour than butter. If the flaky texture and buttery taste are crucial to a recipe, butter or a combination of butter and margarine might be better.

Recipes that rely on the flavour of butter

Margarine has a different flavour profile than butter. Suppose a recipe specifically calls for the distinctive butter flavour for a specific dish or baked goods. In that case, margarine may not provide the desired taste.

High-temperature cooking

While margarine has a higher smoke point than butter, it is not recommended for very high-temperature cooking methods such as deep-frying. Some types of margarine may not be stable at extremely high temperatures and can break down, leading to undesirable results.

Health concerns

Traditional margarine was often made with partially hydrogenated oils, which created trans fats. Trans fats are now known to be harmful to health and are increasingly being eliminated from margarine products. However, it is essential to read the product label and choose margarine options that are low in trans fats and saturated fats.

It is important to note that there are different types of margarine available on the market, including those specifically formulated for baking or spreading. 
Check the specific packaging instructions and choose the type that best suits your cooking or baking needs.

How to store Margarine?

To properly store margarine and maintain its freshness, follow these guidelines:

Refrigeration

Margarine should generally be stored in the refrigerator to keep it firm and prevent spoilage. The cool temperature helps maintain its texture and avoids the risk of rancidity.

Sealed container

Store margarine in a tightly sealed container or its original packaging to protect it from exposure to air, moisture, and other odours in the refrigerator. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents it from absorbing unwanted flavours.

Separate from strong odours

Margarine can absorb strong odours from other foods in the refrigerator. Store it away from strong-smelling ingredients like onions, garlic, or spices to avoid this.

Wrap properly

If you have opened a tub or container of margarine, ensure it is adequately covered or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap to prevent any air or moisture exposure.

Check expiration date

Pay attention to the expiration date on the packaging and use the margarine before it expires. Expired margarine may not taste or spread as expected.

Softening for spreading

Suppose you prefer softer and more easily spreadable margarine. In that case, you can leave a portion at room temperature temporarily. However, avoid leaving it out for too long to prevent spoilage.

By following these storage recommendations, you can help maintain the quality and extend the shelf life of your margarine.

What are Margarine pros and cons?

Margarine has both pros and cons. Here are some of the main pros and cons associated with margarine:

Pros of Margarine

Lower saturated fat

Margarine is generally lower in saturated fats compared to butter. Saturated fats are known to contribute to high cholesterol levels when consumed in excess, so margarine can be a healthier option for those looking to reduce their saturated fat intake.

Vegan and lactose-free

Margarine can be a suitable alternative for individuals following vegan or lactose-free diets, as it contains no animal products.

Spreadability

Margarine has a soft and spreadable texture, making it easy to spread on bread, toast, or other baked goods. It can be convenient for those who prefer a spreadable alternative to butter.

Some varieties are low in trans fats

Many manufacturers have decreased or eliminated trans fats from their margarine products. Trans fats are known to be harmful to health, so choosing margarine options that are low in trans fats can be a healthier choice.

Cons of Margarine

Processed ingredient

Margarine is a processed product that undergoes a series of refining and hydrogenation processes. Some people prefer to consume natural or less processed foods, and margarine may not fit that dietary preference.

Lack of flavour

Margarine has a different flavour profile compared to butter. While some varieties attempt to mimic the taste of butter, margarine may provide a different rich and distinctive flavour than butter offers.

Potential for trans fats

While many margarine products have reduced or eliminated trans fats, it is crucial to read the labels and choose options specifically labelled as low in trans fats to avoid consuming unhealthy trans fats.

Overall, margarine can be a suitable alternative to butter for individuals looking to reduce their saturated fat intake or those following a vegan or lactose-free diet.
However, it is essential to choose options that are low in trans fats and to consider personal taste preferences when using margarine.

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Lard

Lard

47-50% MUFA
10-15% PUFA
40-45% saturated
Smoke point: 188-204°C/370-400°F

Lard is a type of fat obtained from pigs and commonly used in cooking and baking. It has been used for centuries as a staple in many traditional cuisines worldwide. Lard is high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which can be harmful to health if consumed in large amounts. However, recent studies show lard can be a healthier option than margarine or vegetable shortening due to its monounsaturated fats. Furthermore, lard contains no trans fats, linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other health issues. It is also rich in vitamin D, which supports a healthy immune system and strong bones. When consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, lard can be a healthy part of one’s overall nutrition plan. As a result, many people have switched to alternative cooking oils like vegetable and olive oil. However, lard is still praised by some chefs and home cooks for its unique flavour and ability to lend a rich and savoury taste to dishes. 

Lard has been used in cooking and baking for centuries and is prized for its ability to add flavour, moisture, and a desirable texture to various dishes.It’s tasty—delicious. Its smoky, buttery flavour is the secret ingredient in some of the best pie crusts and baked goods. It can baste chickens at the end of cooking to get a crackly skin and confit chickens or ducks. It also has a reputation for producing ultra-flaky pastry crust. Lard is sometimes used in biscuits and pie dough, as it is very rich and makes an extremely tender, flaky crust. Lard also can be used in roast potatoes. There’s no comparison between cooking beans with lard and cooking them with oil. Lard also makes things taste better—there’s a reason your grandma used it in everything from pies to scrambled eggs. Just don’t fill up your deep fryer. Lard has a low smoke point, which means it can break down and release potentially harmful compounds when used for high-heat cooking, such as frying. It’s a higher smoke point than olive oil or butter but lower than veggie or safflower oil. But it can handle a 400-degree oven, and you can toss it in a sauté pan instead of butter to fry eggs or sauté veggies.

Is lard a health choice?

Nutritionally speaking, lard is lower in saturated fat than other animal fats. It has nearly one-fourth of saturated fat and more than twice the monounsaturated fat as butter—making lard one of the best well-known solid fats. It is also low in omega-6 fatty acids, known to promote inflammation; according to lard enthusiasts, free-range pigs that eat greens, not grains, have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because lard contains more saturated fat than veggie oils, it doesn’t go rancid as quickly.
With all these benefits, are there any cons to consuming lard? Some experts still believe it’s important to watch your saturated fat intake, as dairy and meat contain cholesterol, even from pasture-raised animals. Getting more than 7% of your calories from saturated fat increases the risk for high cholesterol and heart disease, even though more recent research suggests this is not the case.
Experts go back and forth on lard. Health-wise, it’s no olive oil, but when you cook with lard, you get the bonus of adding extra Vitamin D to your diet, which no other fat except butter can claim (and it contains much more Vitamin D than butter). A tablespoon of lard from a pasture-raised pig has about 1,000 IU of vitamin D. By comparison, one tablespoon of butter has 9 IU of vitamin D. In contrast, the same amount of olive oil has none. Lard is one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin D.
That aside, if you’re ready to add lard to your diet, there’s an important caveat to its health benefits:

  • Lard sold solid at room temperature and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, contains trans-fat and is likely less good-for-you vitamin D.
  • Plus, it’s not nearly as good for cooking.
  • Commercial lard is “like poison.”

The best way to use it, as is true of most fats, is to use it in moderation!

How to produce a homemade lard?

Instead, consider making your own lard, which is very easy to make. Ask your butcher for back fat or leaf lard, or get a pasture-raised, organic cut of pork like bacon or pork belly and render it at home, which is as simple as slicing off the fat, cutting it up, and cooking it low and slow on the stove or in your oven.
Suppose you’ve been slow-cooking a pork shoulder (preferably with some cuts in the fat tissue to let the lard drain out) for a while or sizzling away bacon. In that case, the fat rendered in the bottom of the pan is lard. Lard will float to the top of the drippings and sit in a tall glass container. One tip: pour that fat through a fine strainer to remove burned, black flecks. Those burned bits can turn your lard. Be sure to allow enough time for the non-lard content to settle; reheating may be required. Once settled, the lard must be refrigerated. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge or freezer, which can keep for months. Home-made lard can have a bit of a roast pork flavour, which is very good for making beans.

Store-bought lard from the grocery store can’t compete with high-quality lard from a butcher.

What is Lard made from?

Lard is a type of rendered fat that is made from pork. It is derived from the fatty tissues of pigs, specifically the visceral fat found in the abdominal cavity and around the organs.

To produce lard, the raw pork fat is usually first trimmed from its connective tissue; then chopped or ground into small pieces. These fat pieces are then slowly melted over low heat, allowing the fat to separate from any remaining water and tissue. The rendered fat is then strained to remove any solid impurities, resulting in a pure and clear liquid fat known as lard. The lard is typically cooled and solidifies into a soft, white solid at room temperature.

What are the types of Lard?

Different cuts of pork may yield lard with slightly different qualities, textures, and flavours. 
Lard is typically categorized into the following main types:

Leaf lard

Leaf lard, which comes from the fat deposits around the kidneys and loin, is often considered of the highest quality. It is known for its mild, delicate flavour and smooth texture, making it ideal for baking and pastry making. Leaf lard is the firmest, least flavourful, and least aromatic of any rendered hog fats. The best lard is considered to be minimally processed.

Backfat lard

Back fat or belly fat can also be used to produce lard. It has a slightly stronger flavour than leaf lard. This lard type is commonly used for frying, sautéing, and cooking.

Cans

Cans of lard are available in grocery stores, but most of these products have been hydrogenated, so they’ll last longer and are probably not what you want.

Bacon grease

Bacon grease is lard. The same goes for fatty bacon, pork shoulders, and pork butts. 

The choice of fat used can affect the characteristics of the resulting lard.

What type of fatty acids are in Lard?

Lard primarily consists of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with only small amounts of polyunsaturated fats and no trans fats naturally present. The specific breakdown of fatty acids in lard can vary depending on factors such as the source and processing methods. However, here are some general characteristics:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

Lard contains small amounts of polyunsaturated fats, including linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. PUFAs are essential fatty acids and play a role in various bodily functions, including cell development and hormone production. Lard contains around 10-15% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). This percentage may vary depending on factors such as the specific diet and breed of the pigs. PUFAs have various health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving heart health. However, it is important to consume PUFAs in moderation while maintaining a balanced diet and incorporating other healthier sources of fats such as fish, nuts, and seeds.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Lard contains significant amounts of monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid. MUFAs are considered healthier fats than saturated fats and are associated with potential cardiovascular benefits. The percentage of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) in lard can vary depending on the source and quality. On average, lard contains approximately 47-50% MUFAs. However, it is important to note that lard is also high in saturated fats. Hence, moderation is key when incorporating it into a balanced diet.

Saturated fatty acids

Lard is rich in saturated fats, typically comprising most of its fatty acid composition. Saturated fats in lard include palmitic acid and stearic acid, among others. These fats are solid at room temperature and can contribute to lard’s creamy texture and flavour. The percentage of saturated fatty acids in lard can vary depending on the specific brand or type of lard. However, on average, lard comprises approximately 40-45% saturated fatty acids. It is important to note that saturated fats should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Trans fatty acids

Lard does not naturally contain trans fats. However, it is important to note that commercially processed lard might undergo hydrogenation, which can introduce small amounts of trans fats. It is recommended to check the product label or inquire with the manufacturer to determine the trans fat content of the specific lard product.

Smoke point

The smoke point of lard can vary depending on the processing method and refinement. Generally, lard has a relatively high smoke point, making it suitable for frying, roasting, and high-heat cooking methods. The smoke point of lard is typically around 188-204°C/370-400°F. However, it may vary depending on the specific brand and quality of the lard. It is important to monitor the temperature closely when cooking with lard to avoid overheating and producing harmful smoke.

Remember that moderation and balance are essential for dietary fat consumption, including lard.
It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice regarding fats and overall nutritional choices.

What is Lard best for?

Lard is a versatile cooking fat used for various purposes; it can be used in everything from pies to scrambled eggs. Here are some common uses for lard:

Frying and deep-frying

Lard has a high smoke point, which means it can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or producing smoke. This makes it suitable for frying and deep-frying foods like French fries, chicken, or doughnuts. Lard imparts a unique flavour and can result in a crisp and flavorful exterior.

Baking

Lard can be used in baking to create tender and flaky pastries, such as pie crusts, biscuits, and scones, as it is very rich and makes an extremely tender, ultra-flaky pastry crust. It has a melting point close to body temperature, which allows it to create desirable layers and a delicate texture in baked goods.

Sautéing and roasting

Lard can be used for sautéing vegetables, searing meats, fry eggs or roasting potatoes. Its high smoke point and ability to withstand high heat make it suitable for these cooking methods. Lard can add richness and flavour to savoury dishes.

Seasoning and flavouring

Lard can be a flavourful addition to dishes, adding depth and richness to soups, stews, and sauces. It can enhance the flavour of beans, lentils, or other legumes during cooking. It can baste chickens at the end of cooking to get a crackly skin and confit chickens or ducks.

Traditional and cultural dishes

Lard is a traditional cooking fat in various cuisines, such as Mexican, Southern, or Central European. It is commonly used in recipes like refried beans, tamale dough, or traditional pastries.

When using lard in recipes, it’s important to consider personal taste preferences and dietary needs.
While lard can bring flavour and texture to cooking, it is a high-fat ingredient and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

What is Lard not recommended for?

While lard is a versatile cooking fat, there are certain considerations and situations in which it may not be recommended:

Vegetarian or vegan diets

Lard is derived from animal fat, specifically pork. Therefore, it is unsuitable for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets, as it is an animal product.

Health concerns

Lard is high in saturated fats, which are known to contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Therefore, individuals with certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases or high cholesterol levels, may be advised to limit their lard intake or opt for healthier fat options.

Light and delicate dishes

Lard has a distinct flavour that may not complement certain light dishes or delicate flavours. In recipes with a neutral or milder taste, alternative fats with a more subtle flavour profile, such as plant-based oils, might be preferred.

Cultural or religious restrictions

Certain religions or cultures have dietary restrictions prohibiting pork consumption or products derived from pork. In such cases, lard would not be suitable.

Personal preference

Some individuals may prefer alternative fats due to personal taste preferences or dietary choices. This could include individuals who choose to use plant-based oils or fats in their cooking.

It is important to consider individual dietary needs, health concerns, cultural preferences, and personal taste when deciding whether or not to use lard in cooking or baking.
A healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance based on specific dietary requirements and concerns.

How to store Lard?

To properly store lard and maintain its quality, follow these guidelines:

Refrigeration

Lard should generally be stored in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and prevent spoilage. The cool temperature helps maintain its texture and extends its shelf life. Ensure that the lard is kept in a sealed container or wrapped tightly to prevent the absorption of odours from other foods in the refrigerator.

Freezing

If you have a large amount of lard or want to store it for an extended period, you can freeze it. Freezing helps to extend the shelf life further. Store the lard in a freezer-safe container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap before placing it in the freezer. Label the container with the date to keep track of its freshness.

Packaging

If you purchase lard in its original packaging, ensure it is tightly sealed. If the original packaging is opened, transfer the lard to an airtight, sealed container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to protect it from air and moisture.

Avoid exposing to light or heat

Lard is sensitive to light and heat, as it can accelerate the process of oxidation and spoilage. Store lard in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight, stoves, or other heat sources.

Check expiration date

Pay attention to the expiration date on the lard package or label. Before using lard, always check for any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or change in texture or colour. Discard the lard if it appears rancid or has passed the expiration date.

By following these storage recommendations, you can help maintain the quality and freshness of lard for a longer duration.

What are Lard pros and cons?

Lard has both pros and cons.

Pros of Lard

Flavour

Lard adds a unique, rich flavour to dishes due to its pork fat content. It can enhance the taste of savoury and sweet recipes, particularly in baking and frying.

Texture

Lard can contribute to tender, flaky, and moist pastries in baking. It has a melting point close to body temperature, which helps create desirable layers and a delicate texture in baked goods.

High smoke point

Lard has a high smoke point, which means it can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or producing smoke. This makes it suitable for frying and deep-frying, as it can result in crispy and flavorful food.

Versatility

Lard is a versatile cooking fat used for various cooking methods, including frying, sautéing, roasting, and a flavouring agent in certain dishes.

Cons of Lard

Saturated fat content

Lard is high in saturated fats, which are known to contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation, particularly by individuals with certain health conditions or dietary needs.

Animal product

Lard is derived from pork fat, which means it is unsuitable for those following vegetarian diets or dietary restrictions prohibiting pork consumption.

Flavour profile

The distinct flavour of lard may not be preferred by everyone. Some individuals may find its taste too strong or distinctive, especially in dishes where a more neutral or milder flavour is desired.

Cultural and religious restrictions

Lard is derived from pork, which can be prohibited or restricted in certain cultural or religious diets. Individuals with specific dietary restrictions should avoid lard if it conflicts with their beliefs or practices.

When considering lard, it’s important to balance its pros and cons, consider personal dietary needs, and make informed decisions based on individual preferences and health considerations.
It is always recommended to consult healthcare professionals or registered dietitians for personalized advice.

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Ghee

Ghee, also known as Ghrita, is a type of clarified butter that originated in India and is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is made by simmering butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids separate from the fat, meaning ghee has less lactose than butter. The milk solids are then strained out, leaving a clear, golden liquid with a rich and nutty flavour.
One of the best ghee benefits is that it’s free of lactose and casein protein. Most people with sensitivities to either casein or lactose don’t have an issue with ghee, as these elements have been removed through skimming and straining. Those with dairy sensitivities can often tolerate ghee. However, consult a doctor if you have a severe allergy.
Ghee is an excellent choice for cooking because of its high smoke point and beneficial effects on health. You can easily use ghee cooking in a skillet, like stir-fries, scrambled eggs, sauteed veggies, etc. Just use it to cook however you like – you won’t have to worry about burntness – or add it onto bread, toast, crackers, muffins, waffles, popcorn, sandwiches, or other baked goods to replace butter. The possibilities are endless.

ghee

25-30% MUFA
2-5% PUFA
50-65% saturated
Smoke point:
218-252°C/425-485°F (depending on purity)

Ghee and clarified butter are similar cook-wise, but ghee has a strong, buttery, nutty flavour. Ghee is left with a stronger, more intense flavour than regular butter by removing the milk solids and water from the butter. When you’re cooking with ghee, you may find that you’ll need even less to get that same satisfying buttery flavour.
Treat ghee like any other cooking oil. Roast meat with it, stir-frying, saute vegetables, melt it over steamed vegetables, and cook pancakes. Ghee can be used as a substitute for butter, and many people think that ghee might be a more healthful alternative for cooking.
Ghee is made from butter and is not vegan. If you’re following a vegan diet, it’s best to stick to other healthy dairy-free fats.
It is widely used in Indian cuisine and is becoming popular in other culinary traditions due to its flavour and high smoke point.

While ghee should be limited, a person can occasionally include it in a varied and balanced diet.

Is ghee a health choice?

Various research studies have looked at the possible benefits and risks of heart disease of including ghee in a person’s diet. However, make sure to choose dairy ghee and not vegetable ghee.
Ghee contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) like butyrate, or butyrate acid, which have been shown to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. Some studies have suggested that it may help support healthy insulin levels and relieve individuals who have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, some studies have suggested that butyrate may provide relief from constipation. A review out of Poland, for example, noted that butyric acid had been shown to reduce pain during defecation and improve peristalsis, or the contraction of muscles in the intestines, to help propel food through the digestive tract. This important fatty acid is also made by the gut flora when you eat fibre; a person does not need to consume saturated fat to obtain this.
Ghee is also rich in vitamin A, which is important for skin, vision, and immune function. Ghee is full of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 and healthy fatty acids, which can help build stronger bones, balance hormones and enhance weight loss. Ghee supplies a small amount of vitamin K but can make a big difference when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Vitamin K is essential to many aspects of health, such as blood clotting, heart health and brain function.
It is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes. Remember that grass-fed dairy provides a higher concentration of this important fatty acid. Opt for grass-fed ghee whenever possible, or use grass-fed butter if you’re making ghee at home.
It may also have anti-inflammatory effects like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
Ghee is often used in Ayurvedic medicine for its medicinal properties.
However, saturated fats should be consumed in moderation as they can raise cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
According to research, ghee contains about 50-65% saturated fat, which has led to concerns that ghee might increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in India. However, other studies in north India suggest that the fat and cholesterol in the blood were healthier in the people who ate more ghee and less mustard oil as fat sources in their diets. Results included lower LDL or bad cholesterol levels and higher HDL or good cholesterol levels. Note that this study only compared results between ghee and mustard oil and not butter. Some forms of mustard oil are banned for consumption in the United States, Canada, and Europe because they contain erucic acid.
While you shouldn’t go chugging the stuff, it could be a good thing to incorporate it into your diet, especially to replace butter or other unhealthy cooking oils.
It provides certain cooking advantages over butter and is preferable if you have a dairy allergy or intolerance. However, at this point, no evidence suggests it’s healthier than butter overall. Both can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
Pair it with a balanced diet and other heart-healthy fats, like olive oil, for best results.

In moderation, ghee can be an incredibly healthy dietary addition.
However, it is possible to overdo it, and overeating can negatively impact your health.
Moderation is key when incorporating ghee into a healthy diet.

What is Ghee made from?

Ghee is made by heating butter to remove the milk solids and water. However, it is heated longer than clarified butter to bring out the butter‘s inherent nutty flavour. Like regular butter, it is usually made from cow’s milk.

How to make homemade ghee?

You can also make your own ghee at home. To make ghee, butter is typically heated and simmered to remove moisture and milk solids. This process transforms the butter into a clarified form, producing a golden, fragrant, nutty-flavoured substance known as ghee.
The process of making ghee involves the following steps:

Butter Selection

High-quality unsalted butter is often preferred for making ghee. However, salted butter can also be used, but it’s important to adjust the amount of salt used in recipes accordingly.

Melting

Melt the butter slowly in a saucepan over low heat until it completely liquifies. Gentle heat helps separate the milk solids from the fat.

Simmering

Once melted, simmer the butter over low heat, allowing the moisture to evaporate. The heat causes the milk solids to separate and settle at the bottom of the pan.

Skimming

The foam may rise to the surface as the butter simmers. Skim off the solids that gather on the surface. Skimming this foam can help remove impurities and further clarify the ghee.
Continue to cook the butter until all the milk solids have sunk to the bottom and the liquid is clear — this is clarified butter.
Continue to cook for a few more minutes until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn brown. The cooked milk solids give the ghee its flavour and colour.

Filtering

After simmering for a while, carefully sieve the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a jar or bottle to remove any remaining milk solids or impurities.

Cooling and storing

Once filtered, the ghee let it cool and solidify at room temperature. It becomes semi-solid with a smooth texture. Store the completed ghee in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Ghee has a longer shelf life than butter due to its clarified nature, with the moisture and milk solids removed.

What type of fatty acids are in Ghee?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter commonly used in Indian and South Asian cooking. Here’s a breakdown of the fatty acids and smoke points in ghee:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

Ghee contains a small amount of polyunsaturated fats. PUFAs comprise around 2-5% of ghee’s total fat content. The primary polyunsaturated fatty acid in ghee is linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Ghee also contains significant amounts of monounsaturated fats. MUFAs comprise around 25-30% of ghee’s total fat content. The most abundant monounsaturated fatty acid in ghee is oleic acid.

Saturated fatty acids

Ghee is primarily composed of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats comprise around 50-65% of ghee’s total fat content. The main saturated fatty acids in ghee are palmitic acid and stearic acid.

Trans fatty acids

Ghee generally has a very low or negligible amount of trans fatty acids. The traditional method of preparing ghee involves simmering butter to remove moisture and milk solids, which also removes the water-soluble trans fats.

Smoke point

Ghee has a high smoke point compared to many other fats and oils. The smoke point of ghee typically ranges between 218-252°C/425-485°F, which makes it suitable for high-temperature cooking methods like frying and sautéing.

It’s important to note that the specific composition of fats can vary depending on the brand or the preparation method.
It’s always a good idea to check the product label or consult the manufacturer for a detailed breakdown of the fatty acid composition in a specific ghee product.

What is Ghee best for?

Ghee is versatile and can be used in various ways in cooking and baking. Here are some common uses for ghee:

Cooking

Ghee is well-suited for high-temperature cooking methods like sautéing, frying, and deep-frying. Its high smoke point allows it to withstand high heat without breaking down or burning, making it an ideal choice for searing meats or stir-frying vegetables.

Flavour enhancer

Ghee has a rich and nutty flavour that can enhance the taste of many dishes. It adds depth and richness to curries, stews, and sauces. Ghee can also be used to flavour rice, grains, or lentils.

Baking

Ghee can be used in baking to add flavour, moisture, and richness to various baked goods. It works well in recipes that call for melted butter or oil, such as cookies, cakes, bread, or pastries. Ghee can impart a unique and slightly caramelized taste to these baked goods.

Spreading

Ghee can be used as bread, toast, or crackers spread. It can be a tasty alternative to butter or margarine.

Ayurvedic practices

Ghee is an important ingredient in Ayurvedic practices and is believed to have various health benefits. It is used in Ayurvedic recipes and formulations for its therapeutic properties. Ghee is still used in Ayurvedic massage and as a base for herbal ointments to treat burns and rashes.

Other uses

Use ghee in natural beauty care recipes.

It’s worth noting that ghee is derived from animal milk fat, specifically butter, so it is unsuitable for individuals following vegan or dairy-free diets.
However, for those who consume dairy products, ghee can be a flavourful and versatile addition to their culinary repertoire.

What is Ghee not recommended for?

While ghee can be a beneficial and versatile ingredient, there are certain considerations and situations in which it may not be recommended:

Lactose intolerance or dairy allergies

While individuals with lactose intolerance often tolerate ghee, it still contains trace amounts of milk solids. It is recommended to exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional if you have a severe dairy allergy or are highly sensitive to lactose.

High cholesterol or heart disease

Ghee is high in saturated fats, which can contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Individuals with high cholesterol or heart conditions should consume ghee in moderation and consider healthier alternatives with lower saturated fat content.

Weight management

Ghee is calorie-dense, as it is a concentrated source of fat. Suppose you are watching your weight or trying to lose weight. In that case, it is important to consider the amount of ghee and overall calorie intake.

Vegan or plant-based diets

Ghee is derived from butter, which is made from animal milk fat. Therefore, it is not suitable for individuals following vegan or plant-based diets.

Personal preferences or dietary restrictions

Some individuals may prefer to avoid or not enjoy ghee’s flavour, texture, or aroma. Additionally, those following specific dietary restrictions, such as kosher or halal diets, may need to consider the source and preparation method of the ghee.

It is crucial to consider individual dietary needs, health concerns, cultural preferences, and personal taste when deciding whether or not to incorporate ghee into your diet.
If you have specific dietary concerns, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice.

How to store Ghee?

Ghee has a relatively long shelf life when stored properly. Here are some guidelines for storing ghee:

Room temperature storage

Since the milk solids have been removed, ghee is shelf-stable at room temperature. Ghee can be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Choose a cool and dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard, to prevent exposure to light and heat, which can degrade its quality. You can keep ghee in the pantry, which should stay good for several months.

Airtight container

Transfer ghee to an airtight container with a sealed lid to protect it from the air, moisture, and other odours. Ensure that the container is clean and dry before adding ghee.

Keep moisture away

Ensure no moisture comes in contact with the ghee, which can lead to spoilage. Always use a dry spoon or utensil when scooping it out to prevent moisture from entering the jar.

Avoid contamination

To prevent contamination and extend the shelf life of ghee, avoid dipping fingers or used utensils directly into the container. Also, avoid spreading jam on your toast, dipping the same knife into the ghee, or swallowing a spoonful and returning with the same spoon. Instead, use a clean spoon or knife to scoop out the desired amount.

Refrigeration (Optional)

Ghee does not necessarily require refrigeration, but if you prefer to extend its shelf life or if your kitchen experiences high temperatures, you can choose to refrigerate it. Refrigerating ghee can help maintain its freshness, especially during warmer months. It will firm up in cooler temperatures but soften if you take it out of the fridge for half an hour before you want to enjoy it.

Labelling and date

Labelling the container with the date of preparation or expiration is recommended to keep track of its freshness and determine if it needs to be replaced.

Proper storage practices help maintain the quality and flavour of ghee for an extended period.
Discard the ghee to ensure food safety if you notice any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or mould growth.

What are Ghee pros and cons?

Ghee has its own set of pros and cons. Here are some of them:

Pros of Ghee

Rich flavour

Ghee has a rich, nutty flavour that can enhance the taste of various dishes. It adds depth and richness to curries, sauces, and baked goods.

High smoke point

Ghee has a significantly higher smoke point than other fats and oils. It can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or producing harmful smoke. It is suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying and sautéing.

Longer shelf life

Due to its low moisture content and the removal of milk solids, ghee has a longer shelf life than butter. It can remain stable at room temperature for several months, and refrigeration can further extend its shelf life.

Lactose and casein removal

Ghee is made through a process of clarifying butter, which removes the lactose and casein. As a result, ghee is often well-tolerated by individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivities.

Nutritional content

Ghee contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat-soluble vitamins. It also contains small amounts of healthy fatty acids like medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easier to digest and provide quick energy. Its benefits include improving digestion, reducing inflammation, promoting weight loss and strengthening the bones.

Cons of Ghee

High in saturated fat

Ghee is high in saturated fats, contributing to elevated LDL cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of heart disease if consumed in excess. It is important to consume ghee in moderation and maintain a balanced diet.

High caloric content

Ghee is calorie-dense, containing about 120 calories per tablespoon. Those watching their caloric intake or trying to lose or maintain weight should be mindful of portion sizes when using ghee in cooking.

Overeating risks

Overeating can have a negative impact on your health, like weight gain, diarrhea, indigestion and heart disease.

High heat oxidation

Some studies have found that the cholesterol in ghee may oxidize when exposed to high heat. The oxidation of cholesterol is linked to several adverse health effects, including heart disease and even cancer.

Animal-based product

Ghee is derived from animal milk fat, particularly butter. This means it is not suitable for individuals following vegan or dairy-free diets.

Some cultural or dietary restrictions

Certain cultural or religious diets may restrict the consumption of ghee due to its animal-based origin. Those following specific dietary restrictions should consider alternatives or consult with their religious or cultural authorities.

As with any food product, it is important to enjoy ghee in moderation and consider personal dietary needs, health conditions, and preferences when incorporating it into your diet.
It is advisable to seek guidance from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians for personalized advice.

Where to buy ghee?

Ghee is widely available at most grocery stores and health shops and can typically be found in the ethnic food section or next to other oils, such as coconut oil. You can also easily purchase ghee online from many major retailers or even try your hand at making ghee at home. You can buy ghee, just as you can buy clarified butter, but there’s no need to if you have some butter on hand and about ten minutes of free time.
Be sure to look for grass-fed, organic ghee whenever possible.

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Butter

Butter

High in saturated fats

25-30% MUFA
2-3% PUFA
50-55% saturated
Smoke point: 163-190°C/325-375°F

Butter is a dairy product that is made from churning cream or milk. It is soft at room temperature and can melt easily. Butter is usually yellow, but it can also be white. This can depend on what the animals that produce the milk eat. They might add colour in the US to make the butter look more yellow. People use butter in lots of different ways. They spread it on bread and toast or use it for cooking. It has a rich, creamy flavour often enhanced with added salt or seasoning. Butter is also used in many sauces, desserts, and other dishes and is an essential ingredient in many classic recipes, such as croissants and butter cookies. Butter is one of those foods that can turn bland meals into masterpieces. It is used in lots of desserts and pastries too. Because of its high cost, it is used alone or in shortening mixtures, mainly in higher-priced baked goods. It is not easily creamed (blended with sugar), producing cakes with lower volume and coarser grain than those made with more easily creamed shortenings. It is an important edible fat in northern Europe, North America, and other places where cattle are the primary dairy animals. About a third of the world’s milk production is devoted to making butter. It is fairly perishable, requiring storage at low temperatures. Even though butter has a lot of fat, it is okay to eat it sometimes as part of a healthy diet.

Is butter a healthy choice?

Butter, primarily made of milkfat, contains monounsaturated and saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats can help boost good cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health when consumed in moderation.
Real butter does not contain any trans fats. However, it does have high levels of saturated fat, which can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and heart disease if not eaten in moderation. Eating a lot of butter may contribute to weight gain and could raise LDL cholesterol levels.
A person can continue to enjoy butter in moderation as part of a healthy diet unless their doctor tells them otherwise. Replacing it with healthy fat alternatives such as avocado and olive oil is suggested.
Butter also contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, essential for maintaining healthy skin, vision, bones, and blood clotting.
Butter is one of the relatively few dietary sources of vitamin K2, an important nutrient for strong bones. Although, if it’s K2 you’re after, there are better sources, such as natto (a fermented soybean preparation common in Japan) and other fermented foods. Grass-fed butter may even reduce heart attack risk due to the high Vitamin K2 content.
The colour of butter is caused by carotene and other fat-soluble pigments in the fat.
Ensure you get grass-fed butter for maximum health benefits. Organic raw grass-fed butter is the best option. Where your butter comes from (and how the animals were treated) affects the product’s quality (including vitamin content). Regular or non-grass-fed butter contains significantly less, if any, of these nutrients.
Grass-fed butter contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which has been shown to improve body composition in several studies. This fatty acid has powerful effects on metabolism and is sold commercially as a weight loss supplement. It helps support your immune system, protect your brain and keep you healthy. CLA has been shown to have anti-cancer properties and lower body fat percentage in humans. However, some studies on CLA show no effect on body composition.
When looking for good quality butter, raw and cultured is best. This might be hard to find, however. Organic butter is your next best thing, with store-bought CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) butter at the bottom. But even if you can’t afford (or find) quality butter, commercial butter still outshines the butter “alternatives” any day.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are found in butter. Although you’ll see a lot about the health benefits of CLA and MCTs online, the research to support these claims has been somewhat underwhelming so far.
Butter is an excellent source of the 4-carbon fatty acid butyrate, which can have various health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and powerful protective effects on the digestive system, such as anti-cancer effects, especially in the gut.
Choline is an essential nutrient with many important bodily functions, including synthesizing neurotransmitters and protecting neurons. The average intake for this nutrient is only about half of what’s considered adequate. Although butter does contain small amounts of choline, whole eggs, meat, fish, and cruciferous vegetables are much better sources.
It is essential to note that butter is high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. Excessive butter consumption can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of certain health issues.
While using small amounts of butter occasionally shouldn’t be a problem for most people, there are far healthier fats. Some polyunsaturated fatty acid intake is important to our health (take Omega-3 fatty acids, for example). Excessive intake is linked to chronic disease. It’s really about balance. Excessive consumption of these oils is linked to cancer, heart disease, damage to bodily organs, impaired growth and obesity.

Using butter in moderation or replacing it with healthy unsaturated fats is recommended as part of a balanced and healthy diet.
Looking at the nutritional information on food packaging can also help people make healthful choices.
The aim should be to limit the intake of saturated and trans fats as much as possible.

What type of fatty acids are in Butter?

Butter is primarily composed of the following types of fatty acids:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

Butter contains a small amount of polyunsaturated fats. PUFAs contribute to about 2-3% of the total fat content in butter. The primary polyunsaturated fatty acid in butter is linoleic acid.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Butter also contains a moderate amount of monounsaturated fats. MUFAs make up around 25-30% of the total fat content in butter. The primary monounsaturated fatty acid in butter is oleic acid.

Saturated fatty acids

Butter is a significant source of saturated fats. The percentage of saturated fatty acids in butter varies depending on the brand and type of butter. Pure butter contains about 50-55% saturated fatty acids on average. The main fatty acids in butter are palmitic acid and stearic acid. However, it is important to note that saturated fats should be consumed in moderation as they can increase the risk of heart disease and other health issues. Following a balanced diet and consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized nutrition advice is recommended.

Trans fatty acids

Butter naturally contains a small amount of trans fats, which are formed during the process of rumination in cows. The amount of trans fats in butter can vary but is generally low, comprising less than 2% of the total fat content.

Smoke point

Butter has a relatively low smoke point compared to many other cooking fats. The smoke point of butter typically ranges from 163-190°C/325-375°F. Beyond its smoke point, butter can burn and develop a bitter flavour. For higher-heat cooking, clarified butter or ghee, which have higher smoke points, are often preferred.

It’s important to note that specific fatty acid compositions in butter can vary depending on the type of cow’s milk and the production methods. The percentages provided are approximate values and can vary slightly.

What is Butter made from?

Butter is primarily made from cream, which is the fatty component of milk. Making butter involves separating the fat from the cows’ milk or cream and then churning or agitating it until it forms a solid mass. This can be done in a traditional churn or using modern methods such as electric mixers or food processors.

Note

For a product to be called butter, it must be derived exclusively from milk and ingredients obtained from milk, including at least 80% milk fat. It may also contain water, salt, lactic acid-producing microorganisms and flavour-producing microorganisms.
When you see products in the grocery store packaged up like butter or use words such as “butter-flavoured” without specifically stating the product is butter, it’s likely they have been altered so that it no longer meets the content requirements above.

What are the types of butter?

The most common types of butter include salted butter, unsalted butter, clarified butter (ghee), cultured butter, lightly salted varieties, and whipped and reduced-calorie versions.

Salted and unsalted butter

Salted butter has salt added for flavour, while unsalted butter is plain without any salt.

Clarified butter

Clarified butter, or ghee, is butter that has been heated and the milk solids removed, leaving behind pure butterfat.

Cultured butter

Cultured butter is made from fermented cream, which gives it a slightly tangy and rich flavour.

European-style butter

Other variations include European-style butter with a higher butterfat content.

Flavoured butter

There is also flavoured butter, such as garlic butter or herb butter.

Whipped butter

Whipped butter is packed in tubs and, sweet and lightly salted, has had air or nitrogen gas beaten into it, making it soft and easy to spread at refrigeration temperatures.

Reduced-calorie butter

Reduced-calorie butter, with about half the calories of regular butter, has—in addition to cream—water, fat-free milk, and gelatin.

What is Butter best for?

Butter is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various culinary applications. Here are some common uses for butter:

Cooking and baking

Butter is widely used in cooking and baking to add flavour, moisture, and richness to dishes. It can be used as a cooking fat for sautéing, frying, or roasting vegetables and meats. In baking, butter is used in recipes for cakes, cookies, pastries, and bread to enhance their texture and impart a buttery flavour.

Spread

Butter is a classic bread, toast, bagel, or crackers spread. It adds a creamy and savoury element to these items. It can be enjoyed as is or combined with other ingredients like jam, honey, or cinnamon sugar.

Sauces and gravies

Butter is often used as a base in sauces and gravies to provide richness and smoothness. It adds depth and velvety texture to dishes like béchamel sauce, hollandaise sauce, or pan gravies.

Flavour enhancer

Butter can enhance the flavour of dishes by adding a rich, creamy, and slightly nutty taste. It is often added at the end of cooking or as a finishing touch to soups, steamed vegetables, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Basting

Butter can be used for basting meats, poultry, or fish during cooking to keep them moist and add extra flavour.

Pastry and pie crusts

Butter is a key ingredient in pastry and pie crusts, where its solid form helps create flaky and tender results. Cutting cold butter into flour creates pockets of fat that melt during baking, resulting in a light and delicate texture.

Flavouring and seasoning

Flavoured butter, such as garlic or herb butter, can be made by mixing softened butter with various ingredients. These flavoured butter can enhance the taste of grilled meats and steamed vegetables or as a finishing touch to pasta dishes.

However, it’s important to note that butter is a high-fat and calorie-dense ingredient. Moderation is key, and individuals with specific dietary needs or health concerns should consider their overall intake of saturated fats and calories.

What is Butter not recommended for?

While butter is a versatile ingredient, there are some situations in which it may not be recommended or suitable. Here are a few instances:

Lactose intolerance or dairy allergies

Butter contains trace amounts of lactose and milk proteins, which can pose problems for individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. In such cases, avoiding butter or choosing lactose-free or dairy-free alternatives is advisable.

Vegan or dairy-free diets

Butter is derived from animal milk, making it unsuitable for individuals following vegan or dairy-free diets. Plant-based alternatives such as margarine or vegan butter substitutes are available for those avoiding animal products.

Heart disease or high cholesterol

Butter is high in saturated fats, which can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess. Individuals with heart conditions or high cholesterol levels should consider reducing their butter intake or opting for healthier alternatives with lower saturated fat content.

Weight management or calorie control

Butter is calorie-dense, containing about 100 calories per tablespoon. Those watching their weight or trying to manage their calorie intake should be mindful of their butter consumption, as excessive intake can contribute to weight gain.

High-temperature cooking

Butter has a relatively low smoke point compared to many other cooking oils. It can burn and develop a bitter flavour when exposed to high temperatures. For high-heat cooking methods like deep-frying or stir-frying, using oils with higher smoke points, such as plant-based oils or ghee, may be more suitable.

Specific dietary restrictions

Some dietary lifestyles or cultural/religious diets may restrict or advise against butter consumption for various reasons. For example, individuals following a kosher or halal diet may need to ensure that the butter they use adheres to specific production standards or consider suitable alternatives.

In these situations, individuals should seek alternatives that align with their dietary needs or restrictions. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized advice based on specific dietary concerns or health conditions.

How to store Butter?

Proper butter storage is important to maintain quality and prevent spoiling. Here are some guidelines for storing butter:

Refrigeration

Butter should be stored in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and prevent it from spoiling. Place the butter in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in foil or wax paper to protect it from absorbing other flavours or odours in the refrigerator.

Butter dish

Suppose you prefer to keep some butter at room temperature for easy spreading. In that case, you can use a butter dish with a lid or cover to protect it from exposure to air and contaminants. However, consuming the room temperature butter within a few days is crucial to ensure it remains safe for consumption.

Freezing

If you have excess butter or want to store it for an extended period, you can freeze it. Wrap the butter tightly in wax paper or plastic wrap, or place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. This will help prevent freezer burn and maintain its quality. Frozen butter can be stored for several months.

Butter compartment

Some refrigerators come with a designated butter compartment on the door. This compartment is slightly warmer than the rest of the fridge, allowing the butter to stay spreadable. If your refrigerator has this compartment, it can be a convenient option for storing butter.

Avoid exposure to light and heat

Butter should be kept away from direct light and heat sources as they can cause it to melt or affect its flavour. Store butter in a cool refrigerator area, away from the stove or other appliances that emit heat.

Check expiration dates

Always check the butter packaging’s expiration date or “best before” date. Use the butter before the indicated date for the best quality and taste.

Remember to follow the storage guidelines provided by the butter manufacturer, as they may vary slightly.
When in doubt, it’s best to consult the specific packaging instructions or reach out to the butter manufacturer for further guidance on storage.

What are Butter pros and cons?

Butter has both pros and cons to consider. Here are some of the key points:

Pros of Butter

Flavour

Butter is rich, creamy, and has a distinct flavour that many people enjoy. It adds a delicious taste to various dishes and is often used to enhance the flavour of baked goods, sauces, and spreads.

Versatility

Butter is a versatile ingredient used in cooking, baking, and as a spread. It can be melted, browned, clarified, or used in solid form, offering various culinary applications.

Nutritional value

Butter contains essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also provides small amounts of beneficial compounds like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), associated with potential health benefits.

Texture and mouthfeel

Butter contributes to the texture and mouthfeel of dishes, adding richness and smoothness. It can help create a creamy and velvety consistency in sauces, pastries, and other culinary creations.

Cons of Butter

High in saturated fats

Butter is high in saturated fat when consumed excessively, which can negatively impact heart health. It is advised to limit saturated fat intake to maintain cardiovascular health.

High in calories

Butter is calorie-dense, containing about 100 calories per tablespoon. Overconsumption can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Monitoring portion sizes is important, particularly for those watching their calorie intake.

Potential health risks

The high saturated fat content in butter has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Individuals with high cholesterol levels, heart conditions, or specific dietary needs should moderate their butter consumption or opt for healthier alternatives.

Lactose and dairy allergies

Butter contains trace amounts of lactose and milk proteins, making it unsuitable for individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. Alternatives such as lactose-free butter or dairy-free substitutes can be used instead.

Lower smoke point

Butter has a relatively low smoke point compared to other cooking fats. It can burn at high temperatures, affecting the flavour and potentially releasing harmful compounds. Clarified butter or oils with higher smoke points may be more suitable for high-heat cooking methods.

When incorporating butter into your diet, it’s important to consider individual dietary needs, health conditions, and overall intake of saturated fats and calories. Moderation and balance are key to enjoying the benefits while minimizing potential drawbacks. A healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized advice based on specific dietary concerns.

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Shortening

Shortening is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature. It is made from plant-based oils like soybeancottonseed or refined palm oil. Naturally liquid at room temperature, those oils have been hydrogenated, which means they have been chemically treated by bombarding the oil with hydrogen atoms to make them more stable and solid. It changes the oil’s chemical structure from mostly unsaturated to primarily saturated.
Some vegetable shortening contains tiny bubbles filled with nitrogen. These bubbles are useful in recipes that require leavening. These vegetable shortenings may also contain emulsifiers that help stabilize the gas-filled bubbles and disperse the fat.
Shortening is used in baking and cooking to add richness and texture. Shortening is commonly used in pie crusts, biscuits, and certain cakes to create a flaky crust and tender texture. It is often used as a substitute for butter or margarine, especially in recipes where the texture of the end product is important. It is also a popular choice for frying due to its high smoke point. Shortening has a higher smoke point than butter and margarine, leading to its use in deep-fat frying and as a pan coating to prevent baked goods from sticking.

Shortening

Very high saturated fats

18-25% MUFA
0-5% PUFA
98% saturated
Smoke point: 163-182°C/325-360°F

While it adds flavour and moisture to dishes, it is important to use it in moderation due to its high saturated and trans fat content, which are linked to heart disease and other health problems. As a result, many people are now choosing to use healthier alternatives such as olive oil, nut butter, applesauce or yogurt for a healthier choice.
Not all types of shortening are created equal regarding health. While traditional shortening made from partially hydrogenated oils contains trans fats that harm overall health, healthier alternatives are available. 

Choose healthy shortening options by checking the label for trans fats and healthy fats.

Is shortening health?

Since 2006, the FDA has required all food labels to list the trans-fat content. Consequently, most food companies have reformulated their products to remove all or most trans fats. Most shortenings are now advertised as being trans-fat-free. Still, check the label. If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is listed first, the product may contain more trans fats than you want. To find out if your shortening contains trans fats read the ingredients list. If it contains “partially” hydrogenated plant-based oil, then it contains trans fats too.
A few studies in rats have found that high levels of interesterified fats negatively affect blood lipids. However, these effects are not seen when these fats are eaten in more normal amounts.
It is very high in calories, offers no nutritional benefits, and contains neither carbs nor protein. While shortening does supply the essential vitamin E and vitamin K, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, it doesn’t supply anything in the way of other essential nutrients such as protein, fibre, iron, or vitamin C. Just one tablespoon of vegetable shortening can be a significant amount over the limit of saturated fat. Even more dangerous is the trans fat it contains. Aim to completely eliminate trans fats from your diet because they raise bad cholesterol levels, lower good cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.

Most types of shortening have been reformulated to be trans-fat-free.
However, shortening is still highly processed, and the health effects of the new methods are still unknown.
Therefore, while it’s okay to enjoy the occasional treat, limiting your use of shortening overall is a good idea.

Shortening alternatives

In addition to limiting your intake of foods containing shortening, you can replace shortening with other recipe alternatives.

Butter is the most popular alternative to shortening. Many people prefer butter because of the rich flavour it adds. Some people hesitate to use butter because it is naturally high in saturated fat, containing about twice as much as shortening. Health experts have claimed that eating saturated fat is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Therefore, butter is a suitable alternative to shortening in most recipes. Just be aware that the water in butter may create a slightly different texture than shortening would. Clarified butter contains very little water and is also a good alternative.

Palm or coconut oil shortenings

Coconut and unrefined palm oil are naturally high in saturated fat, which makes them solid at room temperature. This solid, spreadable texture means they are easy replacements for shortening. Many brands now sell alternative shortenings made from pure palm or coconut oil, which can replace shortening at a 1:1 ratio. But these options have drawbacks. Coconut oil may give foods a nutty or coconut flavour. And palm oil has come under fire because harvesting it negatively affects the environment.

Other Plant Oils

Most plant oils are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which causes them to be liquid at room temperature. So they are only a good choice for recipes that call for melted shortening. Some evidence shows that replacing saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated fat can reduce your risk of heart disease. However, some plant oils are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which most people already consume far too much of. Additionally, it’s important to ensure the cooking temperature does not exceed the smoke point of the oil you use. Some plant oils are good choices for cooking, while others are not. Check out “Discover how to choose cooking oils wisely” for more information on which oils are the best for cooking.

What type of fatty acids are in Shortening?

Shortening primarily consists of trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids. It typically contains a high percentage of trans fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are in smaller amounts.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)

The percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in shortening can vary depending on the specific brand and type. However, shortening is generally made from hydrogenated plant-based oils, which are high in saturated fats and low in PUFAs. Therefore, the percentage of PUFAs in shortening is typically quite low. Typically, shortening contains around 0-5% PUFAs. It’s important to check the nutrition label or consult the manufacturer’s information for accurate and specific details regarding the PUFA content in a particular brand of shortening.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

The percentage of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) in shortening can vary depending on the brand and type of shortening. However, most shortening products, on average, contain around 18-25% MUFAs. It’s important to check the nutrition labels or product information for specific details on the MUFA’s content in a particular brand or type of shortening.

Saturated fatty acids

The percentage of saturated fatty acids in shortening can vary depending on the brand and type. However, traditional shortening typically contains a high percentage of saturated fatty acids, typically around 98% or higher. It’s important to note that consuming high levels of saturated fats can increase the risk of certain health issues, so moderation is key.

Trans fatty acids

The percentage of trans fatty acids in shortening can vary depending on the brand and specific product. However, unless reformulated, shortenings contain around 30% trans fats compared to their total fats. It is generally recommended to choose a shortening labelled “trans-fat-free” or “zero grams of trans fat per serving” to minimize trans fatty acid intake. It is important to read the product label or contact the manufacturer for detailed information on the specific percentage of trans fatty acids in a particular brand of shortening.

Smoke point

The smoke point of shortening depends on the specific brand and the type of oil used. Generally, it has a higher smoke point than butter or other cooking oils, making it suitable for frying and baking. Generally, shortening has a smoke point between 163-182°C/325-360°F. It is important to note that exceeding the smoke point can release harmful chemicals and a burnt taste. Therefore, it is advisable to use shortening at temperatures below its smoke point to ensure optimal results in cooking or baking.

It’s important to note that shortening composition and nutritional profile can vary significantly between different brands and types.
It’s recommended to check the nutrition label or consult the manufacturer for a specific breakdown of the type and amount of fatty acids present in a particular brand of shortening.

What is Shortening made from?

Shortening is typically made from plant-based oils that have been partially hydrogenated. This hydrogenation process converts liquid plant-based oils into solid fat, creating the desired texture and functionality of shortening. Different types of plant-based oils, such as soybean or cottonseed, can be used to produce shortening. The specific combination of oils used can vary between different brands and manufacturers.

What is Shortening best for?

Shortening is commonly used in baking and frying due to its unique properties. Here are some of the main uses of shortening:

Baking

Shortening is often used in pastry recipes, such as pie crusts, biscuits, and cookies. It helps to create a tender and flaky texture in baked goods. Shortening’s higher melting point allows it to remain solid at room temperature, making it ideal for creating a crumbly texture in pastry dough.

Frying

Shortening has a higher smoke point than butter and other cooking oils. This means it can withstand higher temperatures without breaking down and smoking. Shortening is commonly used for deep-frying due to its stability and ability to retain heat.

While shortening can provide unique benefits in baking and frying, it is worth noting that it contains high levels of trans and saturated fatty acids, which have been associated with negative health effects.
As a result, many manufacturers have reformulated their products to reduce or eliminate trans fats.

What is Shortening not recommended for?

There are certain considerations and situations in which shortening may not be recommended:

Consumption in excess

Shortening is not recommended for consumption in excess due to its high levels of trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids. Diets high in trans fats have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cholesterol imbalance, and other cardiovascular health concerns. Therefore, it is generally advisable to limit the intake of products containing shortening or to opt for healthier alternatives. Limiting your shortening intake and using healthier alternatives when possible is a good idea. Shortening can be replaced with options like butter or other healthy plant oils.

Dishes that require a strong flavour

In addition to the health concerns, shortening may not be suitable for certain culinary applications. For example, in recipes that rely on the distinctive flavour of butter, such as pastry crusts or butter cookies. Using shortening as a substitute may result in a different taste profile.

Recipes that need a more solid consistency

It is also not recommended for recipes that need a more solid consistency, like pie dough or bread dough. Similarly, substitutes such as butter or plant-based oil may be more appropriate for recipes with crucial texture and structure, such as certain types of cakes or pastries.

Recipes that rely on the creaming

Shortening is also unsuitable for recipes that rely on the creaming method, as it does not create the same light and fluffy texture as butter.

It is important to consider your dish’s specific characteristics and desired results before deciding whether to use shortening or another alternative.
Overall, it is recommended to use shortening in moderation and consider alternative options lower in trans fats and saturated fats for a healthier diet.

How to store Shortening?

Shortening has a longer shelf life compared to some other fats. Its solid-state and hydrogenated structure helps to prevent rancidity and increase its stability over time. It should be stored properly to maintain its freshness and quality. Here are some guidelines for storing shortening:

Cool and dry location

Store shortening in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Heat can cause the shortening to melt and lose its texture.

Sealed container

Keep shortening in a tightly sealed container or its original packaging to prevent exposure to air, moisture, and other contaminants. This will help maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing odours or flavours from other nearby ingredients.

Refrigeration or room temperature

Shortening can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated, depending on personal preference and the specific recommendation of the brand. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life of shortening and help it stay solid, but it may be harder to work with when cold. If you choose to refrigerate shortening, allow it to soften at room temperature before using it in recipes.

Check expiration date

Pay attention to the expiration date on the packaging and use the shortening before it expires. Using expired shortening can result in poor taste and quality.

By following these storage guidelines, you can help preserve the quality of your shortening for a more extended period.

What are Shortening pros and cons?

Shortening has both pros and cons. Here are some of the main pros and cons associated with shortening:

Pros of Shortening

Texture and moisture

Shortening can contribute to a tender and flaky texture in baked goods due to its solid state at room temperature. It can help create a desirable crumb structure in pastries, biscuits, and pie crusts. Shortening also can hold more moisture than other fats, resulting in moist and tender baked goods.

High smoke point

Shortening has a higher smoke point than butter and other cooking oils. This makes it suitable for deep-frying and other high-temperature cooking methods, as it can withstand higher temperatures without breaking down.

Longer shelf life

Shortening has a longer shelf life compared to some other fats. Its solid-state and hydrogenated structure helps prevent rancidity and increase its stability over time, allowing it to stay fresh for longer.

Price

Many people use shortening because it’s cheaper, higher in fat and more stable than other types of fat.

Cons of Shortening

Trans fats

Shortening is typically high in trans fats, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol imbalance, and other health issues. High consumption of trans fats should be avoided due to their negative effects on health.

Lack of nutritional value

Shortening is primarily composed of unhealthy fats and lacks significant nutritional value. It does not provide essential nutrients and can contribute to an unbalanced diet if consumed excessively.

Flavour profile

Shortening may lack the distinctive flavour that butter or other fats can bring to certain recipes. It can impart a more neutral flavour, which may not be desirable in certain baked goods or dishes where the taste of the fat is important.

Considering these pros and cons, it is important to use shortening in moderation and consider healthier alternatives for a balanced and nutritious diet.

Cooking oils to be avoided or limit the amount

According to Canada's food guide:

Not mentioned by Canada’s food guide:

Cooking fats to be avoided or limit the amount according to Canada's food guide
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This article is part of “Discover how to choose cooking oils wisely

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