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The Nutritional Value of Butter

Butter is churned cream, so it contains a high amount of saturated fat. While it is a natural product, unlike many margarines produced by the chemical manipulation of oils, butter contains very few nutrients. Before adding butter to your next slice of bread, consider the dietary and healthy implications.

Fat and Calories

One tbsp. of butter contains 100 calories. About 99 percent of these calories come from fat. The tbsp. contains 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of which are saturated. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this is about 15 grams. One tbsp. of butter also contains 30 milligrams of cholesterol, or about 10 percent of the recommended daily limit.

Vitamins

One tbsp. of butter contains few vitamins. It does provide 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Vitamin A is important to vision health. Butter also has a small amount of vitamin E, with 2 percent of the RDA, and vitamin K, with 1 percent of the RDA.

Sodium

Unsalted butter often tastes better in baked goods. It provides just 2 milligrams of sodium per 1-tbsp. serving. Salted butter contains 81 milligrams of sodium per serving. The Institute of Medicine recommends limiting your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.

Considerations

If you crave the taste of butter, consider switching to whipped versions. The air incorporated into the butter lowers a 1-tbsp. portion to 66 calories and 8 grams of fat. Whipped butter contains less sodium and vitamins A, E and K, as well. Do not use whipped butter in place of stick butter in recipes – especially baked goods. Another alternative to butter is olive oil. Although higher in calories and fat per tbsp. with 119 calories and 14 grams of fat, most of the fat in olive oil is the heart-healthy unsaturated variety. The American Heart Association says that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Try dipping bread into olive oil, adding olive oil to mashed potatoes or using it to sauté vegetables and meats.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.