Ocnutrition’s Blog

Is Butter Better?
July 13, 2010, 4:50 pm
Filed under: General Nutrition, Heart Health, Weight Management

One of the questions I’ve been asked recently in passing is whether or not butter is better than margarine.  Have you wondered the same thing?  In the past it was thought that margarine was healthier than butter because of the lower saturated fat content.  We now know that when margarine is made (through a process called hydrogenation) trans fats are created which can be just as damaging to your health as saturated fat.  Trans and saturated fat are the most damaging forms of fat, increasing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and decreasing your “good” cholesterol (HDL). 

So, what about margarine that is “trans fat free”?  It is important to note that many margarines claiming to be “trans fat free” still contain some trans fat.  As long as the trans fat content is kept to less than 0.5 grams per serving, they can claim that the product is “trans fat free”.  The American Heart Association recommends less than 2 grams of trans fat per day so the small amount of trans fat in “trans fat free” margarine, and other products containing hydrogenated fats, can quickly add up to unhealthy levels. 

Some of you may be feeling a little discouraged to find that neither butter nor margarine are the healthiest options but, fear not, there is a third option…oil.  Cooking oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, grape seed, and flaxseed oil are low in saturated fat and high in heart healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fats). 

To increase your intake of heart healthy fats, replace butter or margarine with healthy cooking oil whenever possible.  Most recipes that call for butter or margarine will turn out the same when oil is substituted.  If you’re looking for something you can spread, try the butter that has canola oil or olive oil added to it (e.g. Land O Lakes Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil).  This removes some of the saturated fat and replaces it with heart healthy fats.  On top of that, these spreads taste great!

This information was brought to you by OC Nutrition, Your Trusted Source for Health & Nutrition Advice, and Estrella Atkinson, CSULB Nutrition Student.  OC Nutrition offers nutrition counseling services in Newport Beach, Irvine, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Chino, Glendora and Long Beach.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact:

Kristy L. Richardson, MS, MPH, RD, CSSD, CHES
Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist
(949) 933-6788

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