Anchor Dairy Blend Lite,
$5.19 for 500g
I've had a lot of people email me about this product, which is quite new to our supermarket shelves. It blends butter with oils to give you a spread which, according to the packaging, is "25 per cent less fat than marg*". The asterisk refers to a statement on the back of the label which explains "25 per cent less fat compared with margarine at 80 per cent fat content".
One writer wanted to know: "It is a healthy alternative to straight butter, is it better than margarine? The latter being a manufactured spread with many chemicals etc."
Previously I have have analysed Home Brand Table Spread and found that it had emulsifiers, flavour, colour and preservatives and vitamins added to the oil to make it look, taste, feel and be as nutritious as butter.
Butter (29 per cent) [cream, water, salt]
The wonderful thing about butter is that it has only three ingredients in it and comes from a very natural source, a cow.
Unfortunately, it is high in saturated fat which is believed to be bad for heart health. The NZ Heart Foundation advises not to eat butter. "Butter is often seen as more natural (an image helped by some slick marketing) and therefore healthier than margarine.
"But just because something is 'natural', doesn't mean it is necessarily healthy."
However, the American Heart Foundation allows 16g of saturated fat a day and a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooling data from 21 studies, including a total of nearly 348,000 adults, found that there was no clear link between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease.
The total fat content of 5g (about a teaspoon) of this product is 3g with 1.1g of it being saturated fat.
Canola oil (27 per cent)
Canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which are good for us. Other oils with good levels of monounsaturated fats are peanut, olive, rice bran and avocado.
I'm not sure why they haven't named this oil because, with the butter and canola oil making up only 56 per cent of this product, quite a bit of it will be this oil. It would be nice to know.
This is mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, which are produced primarily from hydrogenated soya beanoil.
Natural colour (annatto, curcumin)
Both these colours are derived from natural sources. Curcumin comes from turmeric and annatto comes from the seed coat of the tropical annatto tree. There are some studies which have found annatto can cause allergic reactions, headaches and irritability to those with sensitivities.
Acid (citric acid)
This will be in here as a natural preservative.
This spread will appeal to people who like the taste of butter but are conscious of reducing the fat in their diet, especially saturated fats. It tastes like butter but, unlike margarines or table spreads, it doesn't have any flavours added to achieve this.
To answer my reader's question, this has less fat than some margarines. The Home Brand Table Spread I analysed was 65 per cent fat, this is 60 per cent and butter is 80 to 82 per cent fat. So this is a good option and I think it tastes a lot better than margarine.
Is it better than butter? Well, it still has more ingredients and the addition of colours and emulsifiers but it does taste nearly as good as butter and has a lot less fat, especially saturated fat.
You can also make your own dairy spread using this recipe, which I have published before: Mix together equal quantities of butter and olive oil.
Put 250g of butter on your kitchen scales and then top up to 500g weight on your kitchen scales with olive oil. Heat gently for a moment to soften the butter so that you can mix it into the oil.
Do not let it cook!
This spread gives you the combined nutrition of butter and olive oil, reduces the amount of saturated fats and is spreadable straight from the fridge. (Do keep in the fridge or it will get too soft at room temperature.)
You can use better quality butter and olive oil, but the more virgin the oil the more it will taste like olive oil rather than butter, and the greener it will look.
Sometimes this will separate because it contains no emulsifiers, in which case you just need to warm it slightly to recombine.
* Unlike margarine, this actually tastes like butter.
* Has less fat than butter and some margarines on the market.
* Does not add flavourings as margarine does.