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Is Earth Balance Spread Bad For You?



Short answer

Earth Balance Spread, a popular plant-based butter alternative, contains heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and is often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. However, it's high in calories and saturated fats, and contains minimal fiber and protein, highlighting the need for moderation. Its environmental and health impact is mixed due to the use of palm oil and presence of artificial ingredients. When used in moderation and as part of a varied diet, it can be a healthier choice than traditional butter or margarines containing trans fats.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Earth Balance Spread

Understanding the nutritional profile of Earth Balance Spread is crucial for determining its place in a balanced diet. This popular plant-based butter alternative is designed to offer a similar taste and texture to traditional butter but with a different nutritional landscape. Below, we will explore the key components of its nutritional content, including calories, fats, vitamins, and minerals, to provide an in-depth look into what makes up this dairy-free spread.

Calories and Fats:

One tablespoon (about 14 grams) of Earth Balance Spread typically contains:

  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4g

These figures suggest that while Earth Balance Spread is similar in caloric content to traditional butter, its fat composition is notably different, with a significant portion coming from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats are considered more heart-healthy compared to the saturated fats prevalent in animal butter.

Vitamins and Minerals:

Earth Balance Spreads are often fortified with additional vitamins and minerals to enhance their nutritional profile. Commonly added nutrients include:

  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
  • Vitamin A: Essential for vision, the immune system, and reproduction.
  • Vitamin D: Important for bone health and immune function.
  • Calcium: Essential for bone health.
  • Iron: A crucial component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

It's important to note that the exact vitamin and mineral content can vary depending on the specific product variant of Earth Balance Spread. For instance, the Organic Whipped variety may have slightly different nutrient levels compared to the Original or Soy-Free versions.

Fiber and Protein:

Earth Balance Spread contains negligible amounts of fiber and protein, making it comparable to traditional butter in this regard. This means that while it can contribute to your daily fat intake, it does little to provide fiber or protein, nutrients that are essential for a balanced diet.

When considering Earth Balance Spread as part of your diet, it's essential to look at the broader context of your overall nutritional needs and goals. While it offers a plant-based alternative to butter with certain healthful fats, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a varied and balanced diet. Incorporating a wide range of other nutrient-dense foods will help ensure you meet all your dietary requirements.

In summary, Earth Balance Spread provides a particular set of nutritional benefits, mainly through its fats composition and the fortification of certain vitamins and minerals. However, its contribution to fiber and protein intake is minimal. As with any other food product, moderation and dietary balance are key to incorporating Earth Balance Spread into a health-conscious diet.

Hydrogenated and Non-Hydrogenated Fats: Understanding the Difference

When it comes to evaluating Earth Balance Spread and its impact on health, understanding the types of fats it contains is crucial. These fats are categorized mainly into hydrogenated and non-hydrogenated types. Here’s a closer look at what these terms mean and their implications for your health.

Hydrogenated Fats: Hydrogenation is a chemical process that adds hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fat, converting it into a semi-solid form at room temperature. This process extends shelf life and improves the texture of food products. However, hydrogenated fats are often criticized for their health effects. The main concern is the creation of trans fats during the hydrogenation process. Trans fats have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in numerous studies, such as those highlighted by the American Heart Association. As such, many health professionals and dietary guidelines recommend minimizing intake of trans fats.

Non-Hydrogenated Fats: In contrast, non-hydrogenated fats are those that have not undergone the chemical hydrogenation process. These fats retain their natural structure and are typically found in two forms: saturated and unsaturated (which includes both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Unsaturated fats, especially, are considered beneficial for heart health when they replace saturated fats in the diet. Foods high in unsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts, and certain oils, are often recommended for their positive effects on cholesterol levels and overall heart health.

Earth Balance Spread markets itself as a healthier alternative to traditional butter and margarine, largely because it uses a blend of non-hygrogenated oils. This includes oils like palm fruit, soybean, canola, and olive. By avoiding the hydrogenation process, Earth Balance aims to offer a product lower in harmful trans fats while providing a source of beneficial unsaturated fats.

It's important for consumers to read product labels carefully. While Earth Balance Spread avoids the use of fully hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils – if ever used in any food product – can still contribute to trans fat content. Understanding the difference between hydrogenated and non-hydrogenated fats aids in making informed dietary choices that align with health goals.

In conclusion, when assessing whether Earth Balance Spread is bad for you, considering the type of fats it contains gives significant insight. The commitment to using non-hydrogenated fats is a positive aspect of the product, contributing to its nutritional profile and making it a potentially healthier choice than other spreads that contain trans fats from hydrogenation.

The Role of Palm Oil in Earth Balance: Environmental and Health Perspectives

Earth Balance spreads tout themselves as a health-conscious and eco-friendly alternative to traditional butter, making waves in kitchens for their plant-based ingredients. A critical component of these spreads is palm oil, a versatile oil that's subject to intense debate both for its health implications and environmental impact. Understanding the dual perspectives on palm oil can help consumers make informed choices that align with their health goals and ethical values.

Environmental Concerns with Palm Oil

Palm oil's production has been linked to significant environmental issues, including deforestation, habitat degradation, and biodiversity loss. The rapid expansion of palm oil plantations, particularly in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for a major portion of global production, threatens the ecosystem and endangers species such as orangutans, tigers, and rhinoceroses. These environmental ramifications cast a shadow over the sustainability claims of products containing palm oil, leading many consumers to seek out alternatives that promise a smaller ecological footprint.

Earth Balance's Stance on Palm Oil

Earth Balance has responded to these environmental concerns by committing to sourcing its palm oil from certified responsible and sustainable sources. The company asserts that it exclusively uses palm oil that has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization dedicated to promoting the production of sustainable palm oil. While this commitment is a step towards mitigating the negative environmental impacts associated with palm oil cultivation, critics argue that more robust and transparent measures are necessary to ensure true sustainability and biodiversity protection.

Health Implications of Palm Oil

From a nutritional standpoint, palm oil presents a complex picture. It is high in saturated fats, which have been linked to increased levels of LDL cholesterol - often referred to as "bad" cholesterol - and associated with a higher risk of heart disease. However, unlike trans fats found in some processed foods, the saturated fats in palm oil do not adversely affect the ratio of LDL to HDL (good) cholesterol, suggesting that its impact might be less detrimental than initially feared.

Recent studies, including a 2015 review published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, suggest that when consumed in moderation, palm oil can be part of a healthy diet. It's rich in certain nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin E tocotrienols, which have been linked to neuroprotective benefits. However, health experts caution that the key lies in moderation and the broader context of an individual's diet.


The dual perspectives on palm oil—highlighting both its environmental concerns and possible health benefits—underscore the necessity for informed decision-making when choosing products like Earth Balance. While the brand's commitment to sustainable sourcing is commendable, consumers must weigh the environmental costs against the health implications, considering the broader impact of their dietary choices. As always, diversifying one's diet and opting for a variety of fat sources can help mitigate potential risks and ensure a balanced nutritional intake.

Artificial Ingredients and Additives in Earth Balance

When contemplating the health implications of Earth Balance spreads, a primary concern often revolves around the artificial ingredients and additives present in these products. These components are incorporated for various purposes, such as enhancing flavor, texture, and shelf-life. Understanding the nature and effects of these substances is essential for making informed dietary choices.

Earth Balance spreads contain a diversity of ingredients, some of which can be considered artificial or highly processed. Among these, the most notable include:

  • Emulsifiers: Such as lecithin, typically derived from soy, used to blend ingredients together seamlessly. While generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, there have been concerns about the potential for soy lecithin to contribute to allergies in sensitive individuals.
  • Artificial Flavors: These are lab-created substances designed to mimic natural flavors. The health impact of artificial flavors can vary, though they are typically used in minute quantities and are subject to stringent safety evaluations before approval for consumption.
  • Preservatives: Ingredients like sorbic acid help extend the shelf-life of the product by preventing mold and bacterial growth. While effective for preservation, some individuals may experience sensitivities to these compounds.

Moreover, specific formulations of Earth Balance may include:

  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs): Although many Earth Balance products are marketed as free from trans fats, it's crucial to scrutinize the ingredient list for PHOs, as they can contain trace amounts of these unhealthy fats. The consumption of trans fats is linked with increased risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
  • Natural Flavorings: While "natural" might imply a healthier option, these flavorings are complex mixtures that can also contain substances sensitive individuals may wish to avoid. The term "natural" is not strictly regulated, leading to potential variability in what it encompasses.

While Earth Balance aims to provide a plant-based alternative to butter that accommodates various dietary needs, including vegan and gluten-free options, the inclusion of artificial ingredients and additives raises important considerations. For those with specific health conditions, allergies, or dietary preferences, carefully examining the label and understanding the role and source of each additive is crucial.

Emerging research continues to assess the long-term health impacts of certain food additives and artificial ingredients. For instance, studies on emulsifiers suggest a potential link to gut microbiome alterations and associated health effects (Chassaing et al., 2015). Though conclusive evidence is still evolving, paying attention to such findings and opting for whole, minimally processed foods when possible can be a prudent approach to wellness.

In summary, while Earth Balance spreads offer convenience and flavor for those seeking dairy-free alternatives, being mindful of the artificial ingredients and additives within these products is vital. By doing so, individuals can make more informed choices aligned with their health objectives and dietary needs.

Comparing Earth Balance to Butter and Other Margarines

When evaluating the healthfulness of Earth Balance spreads, it's crucial to compare them to traditional options like butter and other margarines. This comparison can help us understand the nutritional nuances that might influence our dietary choices. Earth Balance is often lauded for its vegan composition and absence of dairy, making it a popular choice among those following plant-based diets. However, to truly gauge its health impact, we need to delve into the specifics of its nutrition profile compared to its counterparts.

Nutritional Content Comparison:

At its core, Earth Balance is designed to simulate the taste and texture of butter without animal-derived ingredients. Its primary components include a blend of vegetable oils, emulsifiers, and added nutrients, designed to mimic butter's creamy richness. Here's a quick breakdown of how Earth Balance stacks up against traditional butter and typical margarines per serving (approximately 14 grams or 1 tablespoon):

Product Calories Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Trans Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg)
Earth Balance (Original) 100 11 3 0 0
Butter 102 11.5 7 Varies 30
Other Margarines 100-110 11-12 2-3 0 (in trans fat-free varieties) 0-0.2

Health Implications:

Focusing on saturated fat and cholesterol levels, Earth Balance presents itself as a heart-friendlier alternative to butter due to its significantly lower saturated fat content and absence of cholesterol. This attribute aligns with dietary recommendations to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake for heart health. However, it's comparable to other margarines in fat composition, emphasizing the importance of choosing margarines made from non-hydrogenated oils to avoid trans fats.

Ingredients Consideration:

Beyond just the macronutrients, it's essential to consider the types of oils used in Earth Balance versus other products. Earth Balance typically utilizes oils from soy, palm, canola, and olive, aiming for a balance between saturated and unsaturated fats. While this mix supports a better fatty acid profile, the sourcing and environmental impact of palm oil raises concerns for some consumers. Conversely, many margarines and some butter substitutes may use hydrogenated oils or additives that raise health questions, particularly regarding heart health.

The vitamin content also varies notably among these options. Earth Balance and other fortified margarines often have added vitamins A and D, not naturally found in high quantities in plant-based oils. This fortification can offer nutritional benefits, particularly for those on vegan diets who might have limited sources of these vitamins.

Bottom Line in Choosing:

Choosing between Earth Balance, butter, and other margarines depends largely on individual dietary restrictions, health goals, and environmental considerations. From a nutritional standpoint, Earth Balance and trans fat-free margarines offer a cholesterol-free alternative to butter, with a more favorable saturated fat profile. However, assessing the full ingredient list and the product's environmental impact is also crucial for making an informed dietary choice.

Incorporating Earth Balance into a Balanced Diet: Recommendations and Tips

Integrating Earth Balance spread into your diet can be a great way to add plant-based fats and flavor to your meals. However, as with any food product, moderation and understanding its place within your overall nutritional intake is key. Here, we'll explore how to incorporate Earth Balance into a balanced diet, ensuring you reap the benefits while maintaining dietary diversity and health.

Understand the Nutritional Profile

First and foremost, it's important to understand the nutritional profile of Earth Balance. This spread is primarily made from a blend of vegetable oils, and while it's free from trans fats, it does contain saturated fats. A diet high in saturated fats can lead to heart disease and other health issues, so it's important to consume Earth Balance in moderation. Additionally, Earth Balance offers a good source of healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health.

Portion Control

A crucial aspect of incorporating Earth Balance into a balanced diet is practicing portion control. Limit your intake to one or two tablespoons per day to keep your saturated fat intake in check and allow room for other sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. Using a measuring spoon can help ensure accurate portion sizes.

Variety Is Key

While Earth Balance can be a healthful part of your diet, relying on it solely for your intake of fats is not recommended. Diversity in your diet is crucial for obtaining a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Combine Earth Balance with other healthy fat sources, and ensure you're also consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Use as Part of Healthy Recipes

Earth Balance spread can be a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking. Use it as a butter alternative in recipes to add richness and flavor. It works well in baked goods, sautéed vegetables, and even as a base for creamy sauces. However, remember to balance these meals with plenty of fiber-rich ingredients and lean proteins to keep your diet well-rounded.

Read Labels Carefully

Earth Balance offers a range of products, including organic, soy-free, and olive oil varieties. Reading labels carefully allows you to choose the option that best fits your dietary needs and preferences. Some varieties might have different nutritional profiles, so choose the one that aligns with your health goals.

Consult with a Dietitian

If you have specific dietary restrictions or health concerns, consulting with a registered dietitian can provide personalized advice on incorporating Earth Balance into your diet. They can offer tailored recommendations based on your health profile, dietary needs, and nutritional goals.

By following these recommendations and tips, you can enjoy Earth Balance as part of a diverse and balanced diet. Moderation, variety, and a focus on whole foods are key components of any healthy eating plan.

Frequently asked questions

Absolutely. Earth Balance Spread is versatile and can be used as a one-to-one substitute for butter in most baking and cooking recipes. Its texture and fat content allow it to mimic the properties of butter, making it ideal for vegan baking, sautéing, and as a base for sauces.

While palm oil is high in saturated fats, its impact on cholesterol is somewhat different from animal-derived saturated fats. Palm oil does not adversely affect the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio to the same extent as some animal fats, but it's still recommended to consume it in moderation within a balanced diet for optimal heart health.

Consumers aiming for sustainability should look for Earth Balance products that specify the use of certified sustainable or responsibly sourced palm oil, such as those certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Checking labels and the company’s sustainability commitments can guide environmentally conscious choices.

Yes, Earth Balance is vegan and designed to fit into various plant-based diets. It's made from a blend of vegetable oils without any animal-derived ingredients, making it a suitable option for vegans and those following dairy-free lifestyles.

Ask a question about Earth Balance Spread and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased ldl cholesterol levels
  • risk of heart disease

Ingredients to be aware of


  • heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • vegan
  • trans fat-free
  • cholesterol-free

Healthier alternatives

  • avocados
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • other vegetable oils

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil

  • Butter flavor alternative
  • USDA Organic certified
  • Non-GMO
  • Whole 30 approved
  • Vegan & Gluten-Free
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 07-08-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 07-08-2024

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