What Are the Differences Between Butter and Smart Balance?

differences-between-butter-smart-balance Credit: Dave King Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

The chief difference between Smart Balance, a heart-healthy margarine, and butter is that Smart Balance contains no cholesterol. Further, 1 tablespoon of butter contains 31 grams cholesterol, 7.3 grams saturated fat and 102 calories, while the same amount of Smart Balance contains 2.5 grams saturated fats and 90 calories.

Whether using butter or a butter substitute, consumers know that all calories in these products come from fat. However, some fats are healthier than others. Because whole butter contains a high concentration of saturated fat, eating it in excess is considered a contributing factor for people at risk for heart disease. Butter also is unhealthy for people with high cholesterol.

As doctors have worked to encourage people to eat healthier diets, many companies such as Smart Balance have developed healthier alternatives to butter. Although most Smart Balance products still contain dairy products, most of the fat in them comes from heart-healthy oils such as flaxseed oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Smart Balance Heart Right Light, for instance, has only 50 calories per tablespoon. Other products offer more benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids, added calcium and low sodium. Smart Balance also offers an organic version of its buttery spread, as well as one that’s 100 percent dairy-free.