Is Earth Balance Healthy? Smart Balance Vs. Earth Balance

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When it comes to non-dairy “butter” spreads, Smart Balance and Earth Balance are among the most popular choices. These products cater to individuals on plant-based or vegan diets, but the question often arises: “Is Earth Balance healthy?” In this article, we will provide a detailed comparison of Smart Balance and Earth Balance to help you make an informed decision about their healthiness.

Ingredient Comparison

Both Smart Balance and Earth Balance offer various varieties of butter spreads, but we will focus on their “original” flavors for this comparison. Below is a list of the main ingredients in both products, excluding minor components like water and salt.

Smart Balance:

  • Vegetable oil blend (canola, palm, olive)
  • Pea protein
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Lactic acid
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Beta-Carotene
  • Vitamin D
  • Vegetable monoglycerides
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Calcium disodium EDTA

Earth Balance:

  • Vegetable oil blend (Palm Fruit, Canola, Soybean, Flax, and Olive Oils)
  • Pea protein
  • Natural flavor (Plant-derived from Corn)
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Lactic acid
  • Naturally extracted Annatto

A quick glance reveals that the core ingredients are remarkably similar. Both products feature a vegetable oil blend that includes palm oil, which may raise concerns for some vegans. Earth Balance uses “sustainable” palm oil, which is a more responsible choice but still not without environmental considerations. It’s worth noting that while palm oil is present in all Earth Balance butter varieties, not all Smart Balance products are vegan-friendly due to the inclusion of vitamin D, often derived from lanolin.

Summary: Smart Balance and Earth Balance share nearly identical base ingredients. However, Smart Balance contains more additives for texture and preservation, along with added vitamin D, which may be a drawback for vegans.

Nutrition Comparison

Let’s delve into the nutritional content of both “original” versions of these buttery spreads.

Smart Balance:

  • Serving Size: 1 tbsp
  • Calories: 80
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g

Earth Balance:

  • Serving Size: 1 tbsp
  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g

Smart Balance stands out with slightly fewer calories per tablespoon, which aligns with the presence of more “filler” ingredients observed earlier. In other aspects of fat content, both products are quite similar, with no significant differences. Importantly, neither spread contains trans fats, which used to be a concern with some margarines.

Summary: Smart Balance offers a modest advantage with slightly lower calorie and saturated fat content compared to Earth Balance. However, the difference is minimal and becomes significant only with high consumption.

Summary and Alternatives

For individuals following a plant-based diet, the choice between Smart Balance and Earth Balance comes down to nuanced distinctions. The core ingredients and overall nutrition profiles of these spreads are remarkably alike. Smart Balance contains more filler ingredients, but Earth Balance may be preferred by vegans due to the absence of added vitamin D found in many Smart Balance products.

If you are both vegan and avoid palm oil, alternative vegan butter options without palm oil are available and may suit your dietary preferences.

Is Smart Balance or Earth Balance Margarine Healthier?

Neither Smart Balance nor Earth Balance can be considered particularly healthy options as they lack substantial vitamin or mineral content. Additionally, they are calorie-dense, and excessive calorie intake is a concern for many individuals.

In a direct comparison, Smart Balance may be marginally healthier than Earth Balance due to its slightly lower calorie content. However, it’s essential to recognize that both spreads should be consumed in moderation, and neither should be relied upon as a significant source of nutrients.

In conclusion, while Smart Balance and Earth Balance can be part of a balanced diet, they should not be considered health foods. Make informed choices based on your dietary preferences and nutritional needs.

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