Marktcheck: Are vegetarian spreads as healthy as their reputation?
Around eight million people in Germany have a vegetarian diet and around 1.3 million people in this country live vegan. In addition, more and more meat eaters are regularly turning to herbal products. The veggie range continues to grow. Vegetable spreads are particularly popular. But are these foods really as healthy as their reputation?
As the German non-governmental organization ProVeg Deutschland e. V. Reported earlier in the year, sales of veggie products in food retail and drugstores reached a new record high. The reason for this growth: The benefits of a plant-based diet are becoming increasingly public. Vegetable spreads - which until a few years ago were almost only found in health food stores or health food stores - are now also available in almost every discounter. However, there is a big difference in the vegetable and fat content of these products, as a market check by the Berlin Consumer Center shows.
We often save on vegetables
The variety of varieties is large, the Berlin Consumer Center wrote in a message. From kale tomato to spinach lupine or tomato basil: the creativity of the manufacturers obviously knows no limits. So there is something for almost everyone in terms of taste. All 62 products included in the market check are vegan, most of them in organic quality and without additives.
But just because colorful vegetables are depicted on the front side of the glass does not have to be the main ingredient. If consumers want to know exactly how many vegetables a spread contains, just look at the list of ingredients. The market check of the Berlin consumer center shows that only half of the products actually had vegetables as the main ingredient. According to the information, sunflower seeds, water or sunflower oil were at the top of the list of ingredients for the other half.
Clear differences in fat content
The so-called spread creams occupy a special position among the vegetarian spreads. Both the fat content and the price are clearly different from other spreads. Spread creams cost an average of € 0.88 per 100 g, other spreads about twice as much. The reverse is true for fat content: spreads contain about twice as much fat as spreads in vegetable spreads.
Sunflower instead of olive oil
Spreads with the names "Toscana", "Ratatouille" or "Tomato Basil" can certainly raise expectations that olive oil is included in the product, but the market check shows that 99 percent of the products use sunflower oil. Olive oil was found in only two products, and the amount of sunflower oil predominated in these too. Only coconut oil was used in one spread.
Health value under the microscope
The health advocates also took a close look at the health value. It turned out that the vegetarian spreads contain less fat and less saturated fatty acids than butter for the same amount. However, because vegetarian spreads are often spread thicker on the bread than butter, there is a great risk that spreads will cause consumers to consume a particularly large number of calories. Vegetable bread spreads do a much better job here because of their low fat content.
Many products with plenty of salt
Most of the spreads contain a large portion of salt. In total, even thirteen products attracted attention due to their high salt content with over 1.5 g of table salt / 100 g. In butter the same amount is only 15 mg.
“Vegetarian spreads can be a welcome change from sausage and cheese for consumers. However, if you want an extra portion of vegetables on the bread, you should use fresh ingredients. Vegetable spreads are easy to make yourself, ”says Dr. Britta Schautz, nutrition expert at the Berlin Consumer Center. Recipes can be found on the Internet, among other things. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Berlin Consumer Center: Vegetarian spreads: As healthy as their reputation ?, (accessed: October 21, 2019), Berlin Consumer Center
- ProVeg: Vegan trend: facts and figures about the veggie market, (accessed: October 21, 2019), ProVeg