Is margarine healthier than butter?
BY: Nicole Gregory
It can be. Butter contains saturated fat, which raises bad LDL cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Margarine has no saturated fat and fewer calories, but it may contain trans fat, which not only raises LDL cholesterol, but lowers good HDL cholesterol as well.
Fortunately, most types of margarine are no longer made with trans fat, making them a healthier choice. A quick check of the label will tell you for sure, but in general, soft or spreadable margarines are usually free of trans fat, notes Kerry Neville, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. And while you’re reading the label, check for plant sterols, which are compounds that contain cholesterol-lowering properties, adds Neville. The American Heart Association says plant sterols may inhibit the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls.
But what if you just love the taste of butter? “Light” butters that blend unsaturated oil with real butter are lower in calories and fat yet have all the flavor of regular butter, says Neville. Just don’t overdo it. As the old caveat says: All in moderation. By exercising a little restraint, you can enjoy the richness of butter while still protecting your health.
Tags: breakfast , dairy , diet , health , heart health , vitamins & nutrients , weight loss , wellness
Nicole Gregory, contributor to Live Right Live Well, is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for numerous publications, including Weight Watchers magazine, Vegetarian Times, Viv, Fit Pregnancy and many others.