In the world of culinary delights, a balanced combination of taste and health is always a winning recipe. Many have turned to olive oil spreads as a lower calorie, lower saturated fat alternative to butter. However, are all olive oil spreads created equal? How do they compare with the gold standard of extra virgin olive oil in terms of health benefits?
In this article, we delve into the world of olive oil spreads available in the UK. From the best tasting to the ones fortified with vitamins, we’ll navigate this complex terrain and arm you with all the information you need.
Understanding Olive Oil Spreads: A Closer Look
Before we delve into our top picks for the best olive oil spreads in the UK, it’s crucial to understand what goes into these spreads and how they compare health-wise to other alternatives such as extra virgin olive oil. This foundational knowledge will help inform your decisions, enabling you to choose a spread that aligns with your dietary preferences and health goals. Let’s take a closer look.
The Composition and Nutritional Profile of Olive Oil Spreads
Olive oil spreads are marketed as a healthier option to butter and margarine, but it’s crucial to delve into their actual composition to fully understand what they bring to your table.
Most olive oil spreads are a blend of various oils including olive, rapeseed, and palm oil. Olive oil contributes to the flavour profile, while the other oils, particularly palm oil, aid in maintaining a spreadable consistency.
In terms of nutrition, they are generally lower in saturated fats and calories than butter, making them a preferred choice for calorie-conscious consumers. However, as they are a blend of oils, they do not offer the same health benefits as extra virgin olive oil.
Olive Oil Spread vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A Health Comparison
Extra virgin olive oil is produced by cold pressing olives, preserving the full range of flavours, aromas, and health-promoting nutrients that olives offer. Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, it’s known for promoting heart health and reducing inflammation.
On the other hand, while olive oil spreads can be part of a balanced diet, they don’t match the health benefits of pure extra virgin olive oil. As previously mentioned, these spreads are a blend of various oils, diluting the proportion of health-benefiting nutrients found in pure olive oil.
Furthermore, some spreads may contain additives or emulsifiers, which are not found in extra virgin olive oil.
Thus, while olive oil spreads may be a healthier alternative to butter in terms of lower saturated fats and calories, extra virgin olive oil remains a superior choice when it comes to overall health benefits. The key lies in making an informed decision based on your specific dietary needs and preferences.
Detailed Reviews: Finding the Best Olive Oil Spread in the UK
In our pursuit of the best olive oil spreads available in the UK, we explored various brands, taking into account their nutritional profiles, olive oil content, and unique selling points.
Notably, we excluded the popular Bertolli Olive Oil Spread from our top picks, as it contains only 11% olive oil and we believe there are much better options available.
The following are our carefully selected top contenders, each standing out in their own unique way:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spread, Organic, Biona: The Highest in Calories and Fat
Boasting 720 calories per 100g and 80g fat per 100g, the Biona Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spread stands as the highest in both categories among the ones we’ve reviewed.
Despite its high calorie and fat content, this organic and ethically produced spread offers a unique flavour profile due to its 12% extra virgin olive oil content. This dairy-free spread is also free from artificial flavourings, making it suitable for those seeking an indulgent, yet mindful choice in their diet.
Flora ProActiv Olive Spread: The Healthiest Choice with Cholesterol-Lowering Benefits
Flora ProActiv Olive Spread offers numerous health benefits despite its lower olive oil content (7%). It only contains 314 calories per 100g, making it the lowest in calories among the spreads we’ve reviewed.
Moreover, it is enriched with plant sterols, which are clinically proven to lower cholesterol naturally.
Additionally, it provides a healthy dose of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and vitamins A & D. This 100% plant-based, palm oil-free spread, approved by Heart UK, is arguably the healthiest olive oil spread in our selection.
Waitrose Essential Olive Spread: A Middle-Of-The-Road Choice with High Olive Oil Content
Waitrose Essential Olive Spread boasts a high olive oil content (21%) which sets it apart from the competition. While it isn’t the lowest in terms of calories or fat, nor the highest, it offers a good balance for those seeking a higher proportion of olive oil in their spread.
It has received numerous positive reviews online for its smooth texture and great flavour, making it a popular choice for consumers.
Aldi’s Greenvale Olive Spread: Affordable Olive Spread for Everyday Use
Aldi’s Greenvale Olive Spread offers 21% olive oil content, making it a good choice for an everyday spread. It’s not the highest or lowest in calories or fat, but those without dietary restrictions may find this affordable option a tasty addition to their pantry. Its higher fat content makes it an indulgent choice for those not overly concerned with calorie counting.
Suma Olive Oil Spread: Catering to Allergen-Free and Vegan Needs
The Suma Olive Oil Spread, with its 21% olive oil content, is a great choice for those with dietary restrictions. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soya-free, and suitable for vegans, catering to a wide range of dietary needs while still delivering on taste.
Its mild flavour and smooth texture make it suitable for a variety of uses such as spreading, baking, shallow frying, and sauces, making it a versatile addition to any kitchen.
M&S Reduced Fat Olive Oil Spread: A Balanced Choice for Vegetarians
Mark and Spencer’s Reduced Fat Olive Oil Spread contains 21% olive oil and is suitable for vegetarians, making it a balanced choice within the olive oil spread range. With added vitamins A and D, this spread provides some nutritional benefits while fitting comfortably into a vegetarian diet. However, it’s not suitable for vegans as it contains whey.
Pure Dairy-Free Vegan Olive Spread: A Versatile Option for the Conscious Vegan Consumer
Pure Dairy Free Vegan Olive Spread is an olive oil spread that has thoughtfully included the needs of vegan consumers. With 16% olive oil content and being lactose and gluten-free, it provides a source of Vitamins A, D, E & B12. Additionally, it uses certified sustainable palm oil, making it an ethically conscious choice.
Does olive oil spread contain dairy?
Not all olive oil spreads contain dairy. Many are completely plant-based and free from dairy products. However, some brands may include dairy ingredients in their formulation.
For instance, the Waitrose Essential Olive Spread and M&S Reduced Fat Olive Oil Spread include milk whey powder. Therefore, it’s essential to check the product’s ingredients if you’re avoiding dairy for dietary or allergy reasons.
Can you use olive oil spread for baking?
Yes, you can use olive oil spread for baking. It can serve as an alternative to butter or other oils, providing a distinctive flavor and moist texture to baked goods.
Olive oil spreads are especially popular in Mediterranean baking, in recipes for cakes, cookies, and breads. Be sure to select a spread suitable for baking like the Biona Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spread.
Can you freeze olive oil spread?
Most olive oil spreads can be frozen without affecting their texture or taste. Products like the Pure Dairy Free Vegan Olive Spread and M&S Reduced Fat Olive Oil Spread are explicitly labeled as suitable for freezing. However, it’s best to check the packaging or the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific freezing instructions.
Does olive oil spread lower cholesterol?
Some olive oil spreads may help lower cholesterol. For example, the Flora ProActiv Olive Spread contains plant sterols, a compound clinically proven to lower cholesterol levels naturally.
It’s worth noting that while the olive oil itself has heart-healthy properties, the overall effect on cholesterol would depend on the rest of the ingredients in the spread
How healthy is olive oil spread?
The healthiness of olive oil spread depends on its specific ingredients and the proportion of olive oil it contains. Generally, spreads that have a higher proportion of olive oil, are plant-based, and contain fewer artificial additives would be healthier options.
For instance, Flora ProActiv Olive Spread can be considered one of the healthier choices due to its low-calorie content and the addition of plant sterols. However, if you’re looking for the full health benefits associated with olive oil, extra virgin olive oil would be the optimal choice.