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Is margarine better than butter?

Is margarine better than butter for your health? Can I reduce cholesterol eating maragine rather than butter? What are trans-fats in some margarine spreads and are they bad for me?

You might wonder which spread is best, butter or margarine? If you are trying to eat a healthy diet, and especially if you want to lower your cholesterol, then there is no doubt that margarine spreads are a better choice than butter or dairy blends. Research shows that the newer 'plant enriched' margarines may reduce your blood cholesterol levels by an average of 10 per cent.

butter vs margarineWhy is that? Butter is high in saturated fat, and eating too much saturated fat is unhealthy. It clogs your arteries, raises cholerterol, and by raising blood pressure it is a major risk factor in heart attacks.

Fats in food are a mixture of three different types:

* Saturated fat
* Polyunsaturated fat
* Mono-unsaturated fat

The different types of fat have different effects on blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is the type of fat that raises blood cholesterol levels. High total blood cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease.

Avoiding butter will help lower your cholesterol levels

To reduce your blood cholesterol, it is important to reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat, such as:

* Fatty meats
* Full fat dairy products
* Butter
* Coconut and palm oil
* Most deep fried take-away foods
* Most commercially baked products such as biscuits and pastries

Trans fats and hydrogenation

Trans fats or trans fatty acids (TFA) may be created during the manufacture of some table margarines, shortenings and solid spreads used in the food industry. Trans fatty acids behave like saturated fats in the body by increasing the LDL (bad) cholesterol. They have also been linked to increased cancer risk, and other health nasties so it's best to avoid trans fatty acids! Look for margarines that have less than one per cent trans fatty acids (check the labels) and are low in saturated fat.

Are there alternatives to margarine or butter?

Well you could just have plain toast or no butter or margarine on your sandwiches! If you do need a spread, one of the healthiest is avocado. Avocado is high in unsaturated fats and is a very healthy alternative to margarine or butter. Just be careful of how much you use per serve as you should still try to limit the quantity of fat consumed per day regardless of the health of the food. See our article on health vs size.

To find out more about butter vs margarine, cholesterol, trans fatty acids, or your individual nutritional needs contact us!


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