Food Guide

Saturated Fats

Buying Tips

Butter is usually purchased in foil-like packaging that protects it from light, the absorption of odors, moisture loss, and discoloration.



Butter is a smooth, fatty substance made by churning cream (most often the cream from cow’s milk). The churning causes the fat in the cream to separate from the liquid, which produces butter. The remaining liquid is known as buttermilk.


Ghee is the traditional Sanskrit word for clarified butter (e.g., butter that has the milk solids and water removed). Having no milk solids, ghee has a longer shelf life and can be heated to much higher temperatures than butter without burning.

Coconut and palm oils

Coconut and palm oil are called the “tropical fats.” These oils contain a significant amount of the saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid. Coconut and palm oils are staples in the traditional diet of the Polynesian countries, where they are eaten in their natural state. However, in the United States, these oils are used primarily in the manufacturing of processed foods, and are not readily available for use in home-food preparation.

Lard and beef tallow

Lard and beef tallow are the fats derived from pigs and cows, respectively. These products are used in food manufacturing and, to a lesser extent, in home-food preparation.

Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Butter is a staple in many countries. It is used daily by many people as a spread on toast, bread, and sandwiches. In cooking, it is a key ingredient in sauces, pastries, creams, and soups. Flavored butters, containing garlic, herbs, lemon, and/or nuts, are used to season seafood, vegetables, and potatoes. Butter (with the exception of ghee) should never be cooked at high temperatures, as it burns easily.


Butter may be stored in its original package in the refrigerator for two to three months. Butter can also be frozen, but it begins to lose some of its flavor after about six months. Ghee is traditionally kept, sometimes for months, without refrigeration. Nevertheless, homemade ghee is best stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Highlights

Butter, 1 tsp butter (5g)

  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 0.4g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.0g
  • Total Fat: 5.0g
  • Fiber: 0.0g

Lard, 1 Tbsp lard (13g)

  • Calories: 115
  • Protein: 0.0g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.0g
  • Total Fat: 2.8g
  • Fiber: 0.0g

Ghee, 1 tsp ghee

  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 0.0g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.0g
  • Total Fat: 5.0g
  • Fiber: 0.0g

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.