*[Image Goes Here]* Many people often question, which is the healthier fat to spread on my toast, margarine or butter? Margarine has been targeted as an unhealthy food because it contains trans-fatty acids while butter is known to be high in saturated fat. Both trans-fatty acids and saturated fat have been found to raise cholesterol in our blood which increases the risk for heart disease.
Margarine is made from oils such as vegetable or canola oil that are composed of “heart healthy” unsaturated fats. In order for oil to be hard, or “spreadable” like margarine, the manufacturer has to put it through a process called hydrogenation. This is the process of adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make fat more solid and resistant to spoilage. Unfortunately, this process creates trans-fatty acids.
Then there is butter, which many will argue is the healthier alternative to margarine because it contains “natural” fat. However, a closer look at butter shows us that of the 8 grams of fat in a 2 teaspoon serving, 66% of it is saturated. Furthermore because butter is an animal product, it contains cholesterol.
Thus the dilemma. Why bother eating margarine if it provides no greater health benefits than butter? *[Image Goes Here]*
Here is the answer: Many margarines, namely the softer varieties are made from non-hydrogenated oils which contain less trans-fatty acids and are less likely to raise cholesterol. In addition, margarine is naturally cholesterol free because it comes from a plant product.
To find out if a brand of margarine is “heart healthy” grab a container and look at the nutrition label. If the margarine has 6 grams or more of unsaturated fat (add the polyunsaturated and the monounsaturated fats), in a 2 teaspoon serving then that is a heart healthy margarine.
Remember that all foods can fit including butter and margarine when eaten in moderation. So save butter for the occasional corn on the cob and make your everyday fat spread a heart healthy margarine.
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