Margarine could now be healthier than butter

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Author: Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Margarine has been notorious for years, but a U.S. ban on partially hydrogenated oils may have made it a healthier choice than butter, a new study suggests.

Prior to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration forbidden such oils in 2018. margarine contained these oils which are heavy in trans fat and raise bad (“LDL“) cholesterol levels while lowering the level of good (” HDL “) cholesterol trans fat also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

“Margarines are a better option than butter heart health, with margarines in the tub and squeezed margarines being the best options, ”said lead researcher Cecily Weber, a diet trainee at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

The research team also found that margarine and butter blend products contain less saturated fats and more unsaturated fats than regular butter, “she added.

“This is a success story in public health. It’s easier now [U.S.] consumers to make heart health decisions because they no longer have to worry about checking product labels to look for partially hydrogenated trans fat oils can only know that the products do not contain them, ”Weber said.

For the study, which was not funded by margarine manufacturers, Weber and her colleagues examined the fatty acid content of 83 margarines and blends of margarine and butter sold in the United States, comparing them to butter.

Investigators found that after the ban, products made from a mixture of margarine and butter had significantly less saturated fat and cholesterol, compared to butter. These products also did not contain artificial trans fats.

Softer margarines in tubs and tubes contained less saturated fat than margarines in a stick, making them a healthier choice among margarines, Weber pointed out.

“Margarines in sticks contain more saturated fat than bath margarines or squeezed margarines, which allows them to be firmer at room temperature,” she said. “However, for heart health, current dietary recommendations are to limit saturated fat intake.”

Weber added that while margarines sold in the United States are healthier than they used to be, they should still be eaten in moderation.

“Although margarines are a better option than heart health butter, they should still be eaten in moderation, because they still contain some saturated fat and have a high energy density; that is, they contain a large amount of calories per serving size,” she explained.

The report was recently published online in a journal Public health nutrition.

Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, warned that using vegetable oils instead of margarine or butter is a really healthier option.

“Whether the spread comes from cows or chemists, the difference is in the saturated fat content,” she said. “We want to limit saturated fats, those fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard, bacon and chicken fat, and plant-based fats, palm and coconut oil.”

These fats increase the risk of inflammation, and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, Heller said.

“Try using more oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, avocado, walnut, sesame or sunflower oil in spreads, sauces and cooking,” she suggested.

“Oils can be flavored with vinegar, spices, herbs and additives like dried tomatoes,” Heller said. “Use nut and seed butter instead of butter on toast, and olive oil on potatoes and vegetables. For recipes that need solid fat, such as baking, then it’s okay to use vegetable spread or butter.”

More information

Find out more about saturated fats at American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Cecily Weber, Diet Trainee, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis; Samantha Heller, MS, RD, CDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist, NYU Langone Health, New York; Public health nutrition, November 2, 2021, online

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