Winter 2012 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French


QUESTION:  Should I use Nuttelex olive margarine instead of butter? Or what would you recommend as a non-dairy substitute?



The ingredients in ‘Nuttelex Original’ – all from vegetable sources – are: sunflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifiers (471 (seems safe), 322 (lecithin)), flavour, vitamins A, D2 and E. ‘Nuttelex Olive’ has the same ingredients, except that the oils include 21% olive oil.

A spokesman for Nuttelex gave the following well-rounded account of Nuttelex.

“Nuttelex is virtually free of trans fats, and the great majority of the oil that we use is not hydrogenated, including the sunflower oil which is our main ingredient.

“Only a small part of the oil is hydrogenated to get the spreadability and softness. We do not use any firming agents or preservatives. Nuttelex contains less than 0.4% trans fat, which is 7 – 10 times lower than butter, and Nuttelex has 65% less saturated fat than butter.

“The great majority of the vegetable oil used in Nuttelex is sunflower seed oil. The minimum amount of palm fruit oil is used.

“Nuttelex strongly supports sustainable farming and preventing damaging practices. Our vegetable oil, including the palm oil, is purchased only from Australian members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This group includes a wide range of social and environmental organisations, such as the WWF and OXFAM, growers and manufacturers. The RSPO promotes a sustainable future by certifying that members commit to certain production standards.

“Every year India uses seven million tonnes and China six million tonnes of palm oil. It is vital that the global community works together to ensure that palm oil is sustainable and to put a stop to unacceptable impacts on the environment and indigenous peoples. Australia and many other countries have a part to play in the solution.

“For 75 years Nuttelex has worked hard to maintain the integrity of the product. We are proud to have made a vegan table spread for this long period and to pay more for ingredients to keep it this way. Also, we stress the importance of non-genetically-modified oils. As a result we stopped using cottonseed oil around six years ago.

“The vegetable seed oils are sourced from Australia where possible, and we are not aware of another oil that meets our specialised needs: the highest quality food grade, virtually free of trans fats, GM-free, vegan, Kosher, Halal and free from a wide variety of allergens.”

The problem with normal palm oil is that the growers cut down trees and destroy a lot of the habitat of wild animals. Orang-utans are seriously threatened by this and large areas of native forests are destroyed. After a few crops of palm oil trees have been grown, the farmers clear new land and grow palms there.

It is commendable that Nuttelex sources its palm oil from RSPO approved companies. They must buy this oil overseas because there is no Australian palm oil or viable equivalent. It seems clear that Nuttelex is doing all it can to ensure its ingredients are produced ethically and are entirely plant sourced.

The Nuttelex company was founded in Melbourne way back in 1932. In 1941, it was acquired by a partnership, but in 1947 one partner left to start the Meadow Lea margarine brand. In those early times, the biggest obstacle for Nuttelex was the enormous political clout of the dairy industry, which didn’t like the competition from margarine.

The original Nuttelex contained nuts, hence the name, but nuts are no longer used.

Nuttelex margarines are produced for the niche requirements of the health conscious – those with allergies and religious dietary requirements and those on vegetarian and vegan diets.

Besides margarines, other non-dairy spreads include mashed avocado, mashed banana (for sweet fillings), olive oil straight, tahini, peanut butter and whole-egg mayonnaise.

A spread containing only one-third butter is made by allowing a packet of butter to warm up to room temperature and placing it in a blender along with one cup of olive oil and one cup of water. Blend until smooth, transfer to airtight container and store in fridge. This is as spreadable as margarine.