Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Better than butter? That's spreading it a bit thin

Every week, Wendyl Nissen takes a readily available packaged food item and decodes what the contents label tells you

Olivani Avocado Spread, $4.89 for 365g.
Olivani Avocado Spread, $4.89 for 365g.

During the three years I've been writing this column I've been encouraging people to eat butter. Not a lot, but enough to give your body some saturated fats. It is high in vitamins A and D, low in salt, and it is essential we eat some fat to act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins.

I think a natural food like butter is far preferable to a processed spread which has flavours, colours and emulsifiers added.

But not everyone agrees with me and people are still being advised to seek out "heart-healthy" margarines, or spreads as they are now known.

Last week, British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra told the British Medical Journal that almost four decades of advice to cut back on saturated fats found in cream, butter and less lean meat has "paradoxically increased our cardiovascular risks".

Recent studies fail to show a link between saturated fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease, with saturated fat actually found to be protective, he said.


Vegetable oils 55% (14% olive oil, 7.5% extra virgin avocado oil) - If you're looking for oils these two are a great choice because they are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Both are believed to reduce cholesterol.

Water - This tells us that a lot of this product is made up of water.

Salt - This is quite a low salt product with just 34mg of sodium per 10g serve.

Emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 471) - These are in here to stop the oil and water separating out in the tub. They are soy lecithin, which is a natural product, and mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (471), which are produced from hydrogenated soya bean oil.

Preservative (202) - This is sorbic acid, which has no known adverse effects.

Flavour - Unfortunately this is artificial; if not, it would say it was natural flavour. Often, processed spreads use flavouring to make it taste more like butter.

• strong>Food acid (lactic) - This is lactic acid, which comes from milk.

Colour (beta-carotene) - This natural colour will be in here to make this spread look more like butter.

My recommendations

This spread markets the avocado component very heavily yet it is mostly olive oil. You could just drip a bit of avocado oil on your bread or, better still, smear on some avocado.

It also has artificial flavour added and colour to make it look and taste like butter as well as emulsifiers to make it act like butter and a preservative and salt.

Why not take Dr Malhotra's advice and eat some real food like butter. If you eat a lot of any fat it's not going to be good for you but a few teaspoons a day on your toast is moderate.

You can try making your own butter. Put 600ml cream into a bowl and whisk with your electric beaters. It will take a while so you may want to get a child to do it for you.

Eventually lumps of butter appear and will form one big lump. Put it in a bowl of water and squeeze gently, then rinse under a running tap until the water runs clear. Add some salt - this also helps it to last longer - and you have butter. The liquid leftover is buttermilk, which makes great scones.


• Uses flavour and colour to mimic butter.

• Mostly olive oils, not avocado.

• Low in salt.

Do you have a food product you would like to feature in Wendyl Wants to Know?

Email her at wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with your suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond directly with readers.

- NZ Herald

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