Which Butter Is Better: Salted Or Unsalted? | 1MD
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Which Butter Is Better: Salted Or Unsalted?

5 minute read


In recent years, there have been huge changes in the butter that you find in your local grocery store. Ingredients have become more health conscience as people are more aware of what is going into their food.

Now that there are more choices than ever in the butter aisle, the question comes down to salted or unsalted?

Salt in Your Diet

One stick of salted butter contains 651 mg of salt, or 27% of your Recommended Daily Allowance. Obviously, you wouldn't sit down at eat an entire stick, but, especially when baking, the amount of butter you consume can really pile up.

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As we age, it grows increasingly important to monitor and limit the amount of salt in our diets. Salt has been linked to numerous health issues, most notably with cardiovascular problems, like heart disease and hypertension.

Because of the health aspects involved, choosing unsalted butter would be the best course of action whenever possible. Of course, some recipes list the salted variety of butter as one of the ingredients, so using unsalted may not always be possible.

This raises another issue worth addressing: butter in general can be pretty unhealthy. Just looking at the fat content alone should be enough to dissuade you from excess consumption.

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While some fat in our diets is not only healthy, it is recommended by the FDA, you really need to be careful about the amount of saturated fat contained in butter.

Considering the fact that most cakes and other desserts call for butter, it can coincide with an over-consumption of sugar as well. And sugar is even more problematic than salt in many ways.

How It Affects Your Cooking

The level of sodium found in salted butter varies from one company to the next. Be sure to read over the ingredients, since the sodium content will be listed on the label.

Since some recipes call specifically for salted or unsalted butter, the taste of your food can be affected. However, for those that need to cut sodium out of their diet or to reduce it as much as possible for health reasons, unsalted butter might be the best option for you.

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A good tip to use while cooking to manage your salt intake is for every 1/2 cup of salted butter you use, decrease the salt added by 1/4 teaspoon.

Some recipes, especially when baking, often asks you to use unsalted butter since the added salt can ruin your dish. With unsalted butter, you have a little more control over what is going into your mix.

Longevity

Considering that salt has been used as a preservative for food for centuries, it is not surprising that salted butter will last longer. You can store this type of butter in the fridge or on the counter and, though the consistency will change, the butter itself will last just as long.

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Unsalted butter is like taking butter from the churn without adding anything to it. It will not last as long, so it's a good idea to buy it as you need it.

Use unsalted butter or cook with it as quickly as possible, as the shelf life can be quite a drastic difference compared to butter that is salted.

Taste

This, of course, will always be a matter of opinion for everyone. The first time you try unsalted butter you might not like it.

The taste is definitely different without the salt and, since it perishes sooner, you will definitely be able to taste it when it goes bad.

Anyone that has tried transitioning from salted to unsalted butter will attest to the fact that the taste takes some getting used to.

Once your taste buds adapt, salted butter may actually taste too rich. It may seem like a sacrifice at first, but your health will improve along the way by using healthier products in your cooking.

Luckily, most of the major butter brands produce both salted and unsalted varieties of their product. So you won't have to worry about a new brand if you decide to switch up the amount of salt in your butter.

The Bottom Line

The most important takeaway from this comparison of salted and unsalted butter should probably be that, so long as you monitor your overall butter intake, the choice is mostly a matter of taste and convenience.

While salted butter can be stored longer, it is also unhealthier than unsalted butter. Certain recipes may even call for one specific option.

There's no "perfect" choice when it comes to butter. But understanding the differences between salted and unsalted can come in handy the next time you are in the kitchen or supermarket.

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References

  1. Butter 101 (http://www.chatelaine.com/recipes/chatelainekitchen/butter-101-the-difference-between-salted-vs-unsalted/)
  2. Baking Tips (http://www.mrsfields.com/blogs/blog/2010/06/baking-tip-salted-vs-unsalted-butter/)
  3. Salted Versus Unsalted (http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63998/salted-vs-unsalted-butter)

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