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August 21, 2019

A creamy, low-calorie butter substitute made of ... water

Food scientists at Cornell University emulsified water and oil for a legitimately butter-like proxy

Healthy Eating Food Science
low calorie water butter Jason Koski/Cornell University

Using a special emulsion process, water is added to oil. When the water-to-oil ratio is 4 to 1, the oil spheres begin to deform and pack tightly against one another, resulting in a product that behaves like butter.

While the popularity of the keto diet has rendered fats both healthy and trendy, butter — albeit delicious — hasn’t been included in this category due to the dichotomy of “good” and “bad” fats.

But food scientists at Cornell University have created a healthier butter alternative that might change the spread's status in the health world.

The lab-created variety consists almost entirely of water, is unsurprisingly low-calorie and somehow still manages a taste and texture similar to “normal” butter.

RELATED READ: 'Salad ramen' is the healthier and summer-friendly way to enjoy the fan-favorite dish

According to Cornell, researchers have:

Figured out a new process to emulsify a large amount of water with miniscule drops of vegetable oil and milk fat to mimic butter, at approximately one-fourth the calories of real butter and without artificial stabilizers.

The revolutionary "butter" contains about 80 percent water and 20 percent oil, compared to just about the opposite for conventional butter. A tablespoon clocks in at just 2.8 grams of fat and 25.2 calories for the low-calorie butter, according to researchers.

The best part of this discovery is that the  high internal phase emulsions (HIPE) process used for butter can be easily adjusted for taste, dietary preferences and health. “We can add milk protein or plant-based protein, and since the water acts like a carrier, we can adjust for nutrition and load it with vitamins or add flavors,” researchers said. 

News Atlas notes that it may be a while before this new butter “graces your toast,” but in light of popular demand for healthier alternatives, it’ll surely be clamored for.

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