If one more person who claims to eat healthy tells me that she uses Smart Balance, Earth Balance, or any of those health robbing butter substitute “spreads”, I think I’m going to scream.
A loud, obnoxious, ear piercing, wine glass shattering SCREAM!
You see, there is nothing “smart” about Smart Balance, unless of course you happen to be a shareholder of the company in which case you would be very happy with the cheap, rancid, genetically modified vegetable oils that are used to manufacture this butter substitute resulting in a very low cost of production and resultantly huge profit margins.
Don’t think for one moment that Smart Balance could possibly be made in the comfort of your own kitchen the way lovely yellow butter can easily be churned from cream in a bowl with a hand mixer.
No way! A pseudo food as complex as Smart Balance or any of the many other “spreads” on the market requires synthesis in a factory in all its high tech, food denaturing glory. They are chemistry experiments, not food!
Get a load of the catchy marketing slogan for Smart Balance:
“The buttery taste you crave in a delicious spread that supports healthy cholesterol levels.”
Let’s see. Why do you suppose folks crave that “buttery taste” anyway?
Because they need some Real Butter, that’s why!
I know a pretty die hard vegetarian who once told me that every now and again when she craves a big, thick juicy steak, she gives in and eats one.
Smart gal. Cravings can tell us a lot about ourselves – if we’ll only listen – from the state of our gut as in the case of craving sugar and having a gut imbalance problem to craving a steak due to the complete proteins only animal foods can provide (soy is NOT a complete protein, by the way. Don’t even get me started on that one).
So, when that craving for all things buttery comes over you, it is always best to get some Real Butter and slather it on anything that seems remotely feasible at the moment. A vegan community in South Florida suffering from severe dental decay issues likes to eat raw butter straight out of the tub with a spoon, I’m told. Now, that’s a serious craving for the “buttery taste”!
What Exactly is in Smart Balance?
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in Stupid, er – I mean, Smart Balance:
“Natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola, and olive oils), water, contains less than 2% of whey (from milk), salt, natural and artificial flavor, vegetable monoglycerides and sorbitan ester of fatty acids (emulsifiers), soy lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, dl-a-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), lactic acid, beta carotene color, and potassium sorbate, and calcium disodium EDTA (to preserve freshness)”.
Shall we analyze this rather long list of ingestibles ?
- The soybean and canola oils are almost certainly genetically modified. Frankenfood at its finest!
- The olive oil isn’t even extra virgin olive oil and is likely cut with cheap vegetable oils like most olive oil on the market. Can we say cheap, cheap, CHEAP?
- Natural and artificial flavor – this must be where that “buttery taste you crave” part comes in. Excellent stuff if you dig tricking your taste buds (newsflash, you won’t trick your tummy though. At least not for long. You’ll be craving that “buttery taste” soon after and more than likely sticking your head in a big bowl of ice cream by 9pm).
- Soy lecithin – yet another genetically modified ingredient.
- Vitamin A palmitate – the synthetic form of vitamin A. Since there’s not much natural about Smart Balance in the first place, “fortification” with synthetic vitamins seems logical!
- Vitamin D – the label doesn’t even specify what type, but I can pretty much guarantee it’s synthetic D2. Is this the wondrous vitamin D everyone – even Oprah is raving about lately? Brilliant marketing and wishful thinking doesn’t make it so.
- Beta carotene color – the normal color for factory produced margarine like Smart Balance is a very unappetizing grey, so color is definitely needed here to fool the masses.
- Potassium sorbate – a supposedly safe food preservative that inhibits microbial growth. Safe at least until they find it isn’t. Three cheers for being a guinea pig!
- Calcium disodium EDTA – an organic pollutant which breaks down in the environment into ethylenediamine triacetic acid and then diketopiperazine. Diketopiperazine is a persistent organic pollutant, similar to PCBs and DDT. Not only does Smart Balance pollute the bodies of those who eat it, it pollutes the environment too!
Butter is Always Best!
Nothing manufactured in a factory can ever beat the simple, natural, whole nutrition of plain BUTTER and other whole traditional fats. No genetically modified, artificial flavors or organic pollutant preservatives needed. Loads of natural vitamin A, D, and E that really will boost your immune system unlike the synthetic versions in margarine spreads like Smart Balance.
Most importantly, butterfat is far superior to the rancid, highly processed vegetable oils in Smart Balance. While not hydrogenated, the edible oil processing , called interesterification, is still very much denaturing and is arguably worse for cardiovascular health than transfats.
On the other hand, butter, particularly grassfed butter, is one of the richest sources of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is the magical X Factor written about by Dr. Weston A. Price which is known to prevent arterial calcification which is a very strong (if not the strongest) predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, NOT cholesterol levels.
Folks with low cholesterol suffer from heart disease at the same rate as those with high cholesterol. Don’t tell that to the folks in the marketing department at Smart Balance, though. They’re doing really well with that catchy marketing slogan that associates use of Smart Balance with “healthy” cholesterol levels.
Once you get past the marketing hype, it sure seems that the more appropriate name for Smart Balance would be “Stupid Balance”, don’t you think?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Interesterification of Vegetable Oils, by Dr. Mary Enig
Whole Health Source, Butter, Margarine, and Heart Disease