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Cream cheese vs. Butter — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 04, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Cream cheese
vs
Butter

Summary

Butter is higher in calories, fats, and specifically saturated fats. It is richer in vitamins A, E, and K and lower in sodium. On the other hand, cream cheese is richer in protein, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and B complex vitamins.

Introduction

Butter is made by churning milk or cream. It is semisolid at room temperature and may be used as a spread. In refrigerated forms, it is solid.

Since the agricultural ages, butter has been a part of the human diet with the domestication of animals. It is possible that butter was made from sheep's milk; nonetheless, cow's milk is today the most prevalent source of butter.

Cream cheese is a processed cheese obtained from processing milk with fermenting bacteria that coagulates milk. Cream cheese relatively retains water which gives it a creamy, spreadable texture.

On the other hand, cream cheese is a relatively more recent dairy food than butter. It was mainly popularized in the 19th century. Again it is nowadays mostly done with cow’s milk.

This article will discuss the difference between butter and cream cheese-based on their general differences, nutritional content comparison, and health impacts.

General differences

The general differences between butter and cream cheese are shelf life, texture, and flavor.

Shelf life

Butter has a longer shelf life than cream cheese, noting that both require refrigeration.

Texture and flavor

Butter has a flavor that is richer and fattier than cream cheese. They are both spreadable, but butter at refrigerated temperature is more solid.

Cream cheese has a lighter flavor.

Nutritional content comparison

Calories

Butter is twice as higher in calories as compared to cream cheese. The difference is very significant as 100g of butter contains 717 calories, whereas, in cream cheese, it is 350 calories.

Carbs

Butter contains negligible amounts of carbs. It is mostly fat. Cream cheese contains 5.5g of carbs per 100g. Butter contains fewer carbs than cream cheese; it has negligible carbs.

Glycemic index

They both contain glycemic indices equal to 0.

Proteins

Cream cheese contains higher amounts of protein than butter. The protein content of butter is almost negligible.

Fats

Butter is mainly composed of fats. 81g out of 100g of butter is fat. 34g out of 100g of cream cheese is fat. The difference between the fat distribution is of great importance.

Saturated fats are among the highest components of both these foods.

However, butter contains much higher amounts of saturated fats than cream cheese. Nearly 51% of butter is saturated fats.

In addition to that, butter is richer in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Minerals

The mineral profile of cream cheese is richer and more versatile than butter.

Cream cheese is richer in all minerals; however, the remarkable minerals are phosphorus, calcium, and zinc.

Important to note that butter is lower in sodium.

Below is the mineral distribution chart that displays the mineral distributions.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +304.2%
Contains more Iron +450%
Contains more Magnesium +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +345.8%
Contains more Potassium +450%
Contains more Zinc +455.6%
Contains more Copper +12.5%
Contains more Manganese +175%
Contains more Selenium +760%
Contains less Sodium -96.5%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 30% 5% 7% 46% 12% 41% 14% 6% 2% 47%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 8% 1% 2% 11% 3% 2% 3% 6% 1% 6%
Contains more Calcium +304.2%
Contains more Iron +450%
Contains more Magnesium +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +345.8%
Contains more Potassium +450%
Contains more Zinc +455.6%
Contains more Copper +12.5%
Contains more Manganese +175%
Contains more Selenium +760%
Contains less Sodium -96.5%

Vitamins

Butter is richer in vitamins A, E, and K, whereas cream cheese is richer in the most vitamin B complex.

In the following chart, we can see the vitamin distribution.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
3
Butter
Contains more Vitamin B1 +360%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +576.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +116.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +370%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +1766.7%
Contains more Folate +200%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +29.4%
Contains more Choline +44.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +124.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +169.8%
Contains more Vitamin K +233.3%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 67% 18% 0% 0% 6% 54% 2% 32% 13% 7% 28% 15% 6%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 150% 47% 0% 0% 2% 8% 1% 7% 1% 3% 22% 11% 18%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +360%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +576.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +116.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +370%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +1766.7%
Contains more Folate +200%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +29.4%
Contains more Choline +44.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +124.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +169.8%
Contains more Vitamin K +233.3%

Health impacts

Keto diet

Butter and cream cheese are suitable for the keto diet. However, butter is ideal because it contains negligible carbs and a glycemic index of 0.

Vegan diet

Butter and cream cheese are dairy products that cannot be consumed in the vegan diet.

What are the positive and negative effects of butter on overall health?

Butter has its negative and positive points on health.

Positive effects of butter

Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid, which reduces weight and pro-inflammatory proteins and cytokines in the body. (1) (2) (3)
Butter also contains butyrate, which has beneficial effects on the digestive system, reducing the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Butyrate in butter has also been shown to control blood glucose levels and insulin intolerance positively. (4) (5)
Consumption of butter in low to moderate amounts has positive effects. The same effects become inverted if we consume butter in high amounts. Butter reduces the risks of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes when consumed in low to moderate amounts. About high amount of consumption, we discuss it in the below section. (6) (7) (8)

Negative effects of butter

Frequent and high consumption of butter daily is linked with increased LDL levels, which increases the risks of cardiovascular diseases. (9)

Since butter is high in calories, it will lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems if eaten at uncontrolled and unmoderated levels. Thus it is crucial to keep track of the intake of calories. 

What are the effects of cream cheese on overall health?

Positive effects

Cream cheese has positive effects on the digestive tract. It contains probiotic lactobacilli that help improve gut microbiota. In turn, there are positive effects on overall health. (10)

Cream cheese is low in lactose and thus can be consumed in minimal amounts by lactose-intolerant individuals. (11)

Negative effects

Lactose-intolerant people who consume too much cream cheese will have bloating and diarrhea. (12)

Cream cheese is processed cheese, and most cream cheese available in the markets is processed and has preservatives added to them. Consuming these cheese might have adverse side effects on overall health. In addition, cream cheese is packed with saturated fats, relatively lower than butter. Still, if not monitored, it will cause adverse effects on the health like obesity and cardiovascular diseases. (13)

Conclusion on health impacts

Overall, butter and cream cheese have positive and negative impacts.

Research mostly shows that butter or cream cheese consumption in low to moderate amounts has mostly positive effects on overall health.

The adverse effects are when unmonitored and high amounts of these foods are consumed.

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 04, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Cream cheese vs Butter infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +623.5%
Contains more Carbs +9100%
Contains more Water +193.3%
Contains more Other +3075%
Contains more Fats +135.5%
6% 34% 6% 53%
Protein: 6.15 g
Fats: 34.44 g
Carbs: 5.52 g
Water: 52.62 g
Other: 1.27 g
81% 18%
Protein: 0.85 g
Fats: 81.11 g
Carbs: 0.06 g
Water: 17.94 g
Other: 0.04 g
Contains more Protein +623.5%
Contains more Carbs +9100%
Contains more Water +193.3%
Contains more Other +3075%
Contains more Fats +135.5%

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -60%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +163.1%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +103%
66% 29% 5%
Saturated Fat: 20.213 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 8.907 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.483 g
66% 30% 4%
Saturated Fat: 50.489 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 23.43 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 3.01 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -60%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +163.1%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +103%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Cream cheese Butter
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Cream cheese Butter Opinion
Net carbs 5.52g 0.06g Cream cheese
Protein 6.15g 0.85g Cream cheese
Fats 34.44g 81.11g Butter
Carbs 5.52g 0.06g Cream cheese
Calories 350kcal 717kcal Butter
Starch 0.35g Cream cheese
Sugar 3.76g 0.06g Butter
Calcium 97mg 24mg Cream cheese
Iron 0.11mg 0.02mg Cream cheese
Magnesium 9mg 2mg Cream cheese
Phosphorus 107mg 24mg Cream cheese
Potassium 132mg 24mg Cream cheese
Sodium 314mg 11mg Butter
Zinc 0.5mg 0.09mg Cream cheese
Copper 0.018mg 0.016mg Cream cheese
Manganese 0.011mg 0.004mg Cream cheese
Selenium 8.6µg 1µg Cream cheese
Vitamin A 1111IU 2499IU Butter
Vitamin A RAE 308µg 684µg Butter
Vitamin E 0.86mg 2.32mg Butter
Vitamin B1 0.023mg 0.005mg Cream cheese
Vitamin B2 0.23mg 0.034mg Cream cheese
Vitamin B3 0.091mg 0.042mg Cream cheese
Vitamin B5 0.517mg 0.11mg Cream cheese
Vitamin B6 0.056mg 0.003mg Cream cheese
Folate 9µg 3µg Cream cheese
Vitamin B12 0.22µg 0.17µg Cream cheese
Choline 27.2mg 18.8mg Cream cheese
Vitamin K 2.1µg 7µg Butter
Tryptophan 0.069mg 0.012mg Cream cheese
Threonine 0.233mg 0.038mg Cream cheese
Isoleucine 0.324mg 0.051mg Cream cheese
Leucine 0.657mg 0.083mg Cream cheese
Lysine 0.567mg 0.067mg Cream cheese
Methionine 0.191mg 0.021mg Cream cheese
Phenylalanine 0.291mg 0.041mg Cream cheese
Valine 0.395mg 0.057mg Cream cheese
Histidine 0.175mg 0.023mg Cream cheese
Cholesterol 101mg 215mg Cream cheese
Saturated Fat 20.213g 50.489g Cream cheese
Omega-3 - EPA 0.01g 0g Cream cheese
Omega-3 - DPA 0.02g 0g Cream cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 8.907g 23.43g Butter
Polyunsaturated fat 1.483g 3.01g Butter
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.007g Cream cheese
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 0.807g 2.166g Butter
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.002g Cream cheese
Omega-3 - ALA 0.125g 0.315g Butter
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.002g Cream cheese
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.036g Cream cheese

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Cream cheese Butter
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
19%
Cream cheese
20%
Butter
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
21%
Cream cheese
4%
Butter

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Cream cheese
Cream cheese is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 114mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Cream cheese
Cream cheese is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 30.276g)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Cream cheese
Cream cheese is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Cream cheese
Cream cheese is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Butter
Butter is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.7g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Butter
Butter contains less Sodium (difference - 303mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Butter
Butter is cheaper (difference - $1.4)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Cream cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173418/nutrients
  2. Butter - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173430/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.