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Is “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Healthy?

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FACT CHECKED
  Published on December 30th, 2021
  Reading time: 2 minutes
  Last modified April 13th, 2022
I can't believe it's not butter

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is a popular light and “healthy” alternative to traditional butter. It promises a rich, buttery taste, without all of the fat! But is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter healthy? Well, what this product lacks in calories, it makes up for in unhealthy oils.

Read on to learn about the implications of choosing the popular margarine over butter.

Is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Healthy?

In order to cut down the fat content, products like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is made with unhealthy oils such as soybean. Soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, making it a highly inflammatory oil. Consumption of inflammatory oils can worsen pre-existing health conditions, weaken the immune system, and make you more susceptible to other diseases (including cancer). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Butter alternatives aren't as healthy as pure butter

Marketing for these “light” alternatives makes them seem like they are truly the healthier version. Coincidentally, it is advertised that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter contains more omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) than traditional butter, but nowhere is it mentioned that it has more omega-6 fatty acids as well!

The Not-Scientifically-Supported Claims Behind I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

This company not only markets the product as a healthy alternative but advertisements claims that soybean oil might help reduce the risk of heart disease.  

“Contains 295 mg of omega-3 ALA per 1 tablespoon serving (18% of the 1.6g daily value)** Supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 ½ tablespoons (20.5g) daily of soybean oil, which contains unsaturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” 

Ironically, the consumption of inflammatory oils such as soybean oil has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease. [1]

Dietary Recommendations

Cooking oils for keto diet

Maintaining a low omega-6: omega-3 ratio is important to reduce consumption of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids. This includes foods with oils such as soybean oil, canola oil, and vegetable.

Additionally, it is also important not to heat oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids. High temperatures and repeated heating of these oils can lead to oxidation. Oxidation can lead to inflammation, oxidative damage, and has been suspected as a culprit behind coronary heart disease. For cooking, instead choose healthy keto-friendly oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. [1] [3] It’s best to avoid margarine or any other butter substitute. Instead, stick to pure butter. 

Do You Eat I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?

Comment below and share your thoughts on these “healthy” butter alternatives! 

References

1.

DiNicolantonio, J. J., & O'Keefe, J. H. (2018). Omega-6 vegetable oils as a driver of coronary heart disease: the oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis. Open heart, 5(2), e000898. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2018-000898

2.

Deol P, Evans JR, Dhahbi J, Chellappa K, Han DS, Spindler S, Sladek FM. Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 22;10(7):e0132672. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132672. PMID: 26200659; PMCID: PMC4511588.

3.

DiNicolantonio, J. J., & O'Keefe, J. (2020). The Importance of Maintaining a Low Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio for Reducing the Risk of Inflammatory Cytokine Storms. Missouri medicine, 117(6), 539–542.

4.

Ng, C. Y., Kamisah, Y., Faizah, O., & Jaarin, K. (2012). The role of repeatedly heated soybean oil in the development of hypertension in rats: association with vascular inflammation. International journal of experimental pathology, 93(5), 377–387. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2613.2012.00839.x

5.

Harbige LS. Fatty acids, the immune response, and autoimmunity: a question of n-6 essentiality and the balance between n-6 and n-3. Lipids. 2003 Apr;38(4):323-41. doi: 10.1007/s11745-003-1067-z. PMID: 12848277.

Discussion

  1. Phil Suys says:

    I came to Florida early January away from the northern ice&snow in Canada. I was fooled at the store and purchased this « false butter. » I have osteoarthritis in both knees which becomes slightly painful after exercises which so far I manage quite well and so, I imagined that Omega3 in the margarine would be helpful….WRONG WRONG. The pain is increasing everyday and is most likely flared up by the Omega 6 content. Thanks for pointing this out.Isn’t there a Government Agency un the USA to address this faulty advertising?

    1. Aimee Aristotelous says:

      Hi Phil–we’re sorry you had this experience but glad you were able to pinpoint the product causing the issue. Unfortunately, food lobbying can be a bit underhanded and result in falsely leading the public into thinking detrimental products are actually healthy. It is very frustrating.

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