What’s In Smart Balance Cooking Spray?
In one of my first blog posts I broke down one of the original and most popular cooking sprays: PAM. For more on that, check out our What’s In Pam Cooking Spray? article here. These days, if you take a look through the cooking aisle of a major supermarket there are a lot more options than just PAM cooking spray that is out there now. One that caught my attention was Smart Balance’s Omega-3 Cooking Spray.
Smart Balance Cooking Spray
I was randomly looking through Ralph’s supermarket the other day when I was doing my grocery shopping (it sounds boring but we all have to do it) and I came across the cooking aisle and to be honest – I never use PAM or anything of that nature but I was kind of surprised to see how many comparable products are out there on the market.
One product that came out several years ago was a product marketed under the name of Smart Balance. Smart Balance is a company out there known for their heart healthy buttery like spreads. There’s probably a lot of Paleo minded people out there that would disagree with me, but I actually think Smart Balance is a perfectly healthy brand (there are far worse options out there). However, when it comes to their pan spray, the similarities to PAM are very close.
If you remember our article on PAM (we titled it Cooking With Gasoline to try to drive the point home), aerosol non-stick sprays are full of several ingredients that you do not want in your body.
Things To Know About Aerosol Cooking Sprays
1. Take a look at the back of cooking sprays to see a list of the ingredients. Typically oils that they’re made of are vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are usually higher in a type of fatty acid called omega-6. Western diets have high ratios of omega-6 which can lead to increased inflammation inside the body.
2. Soy Lecithin – it’s disgusting. Soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier inside cooking sprays (meaning it keeps all the ingredients together). So what’s the big deal about keeping ingredients together? Nothing really. It’s the part about how soy lecithin is extracted which is a nasty chemical process.
3. Propellants – In order to for a cooking spray to actually well, spray, it’s pressurized with fuels such as butane. Delicious, right?
So let’s take a look at the ingredient list of Smart Balance Cooking Spray:
Is Smart Balance A Healthier Alternative To PAM?
Definitely not. About the first three oils listed: they all contain high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3. While the amount of cooking spray being used is usually small amounts, chances are you’re already getting too much omega-6 in your diet. Why add more?
As is in PAM, Smart Balance cooking spray also contains soy lecithin, grain alcohol (not really that much of a big deal there), dimethylpolysiloxane, and fuel based propellants. You might be wondering what the heck dimethylpolysiloxane is, right? PAM contains a similar form – something called dimethyl silicone. It’s a form of silicone put in cooking spray to keep all the added chemicals from foaming up in your pan or cookie sheet – after all, that would kind of be gross if your stir-fry started foaming up half way through the cooking process.
So what’s the healthiest alternative to store bought cooking sprays? Honestly, create your own cooking spray. I use a oil sprayer such as the one below. With an oil sprayer it’s possible to use whichever type of cooking oils you prefer. My favorite is avocado oil because the oil stays stable longer at high heats. The bonus is that you still get the cooking oil without all of the chemicals. This is the oil sprayer I use but there are many available that are similar to it:
All you do is add the oil and it’s pressurized with your own hand pumps. The coating is just as effective as any store bought aerosol sprayer and the benefit is you get that WITHOUT any of negative ingredients.