We're always being told that natural is best and it would seem that milk from cows is, well, natural. So, what about the butter made from that milk? Shopping shelves are filled with substitutes to butter — such as margarine. It claims to be a healthier alternative, but is it really? You can exercise and watch what you eat, but when it comes to slathering something tasty on your toast or English Muffin, you probably still ask what's better for me: Butter or margarine?
We've heard conflicting reports over the years, so we're going to find out once and for all what's better for us — butter or margarine?
Eleven recent studies that directly evaluated the health effects of margarine versus butter have all confirmed that soft margarine is healthier. These 11 studies, involving more than 70,000 individuals, clearly demonstrate the cholesterol-lowering benefits of margarine products compared to butter.
Although some fat is essential, health professionals recommend that we reduce the total of fat in our diet. It is important to pay attention to both the amount and type of fat eaten. Both butter and margarine are 80% fat and are made with many of the same ingredients, namely fats and oils. The type of fat they contain is the difference between them. Butter is made from milk/dairy fat which is high in saturated fat and also contains trans fat. Both saturated and trans fat raise blood cholesterol levels.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, switching to margarine from butter can greatly reduce blood cholesterol levels. Keeping blood cholesterol under control is a key factor in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Health professionals recommend choosing margarine instead of butter as one of the simplest ways people can improve their diets to become more heart-healthy.
Natural vegetable oils are the key ingredients that margarines are made from. If they are hardened by hydrogenation then trans fats will be formed. It is therefore best to choose a margarine/spread that is non-hydrogenated, low in saturated fat and contains mono and polyunsaturated fat that help lower blood cholesterol levels. Not one of the Unilever Margarine and spreads contains any trans fats.
Margarine is clearly the heart-healthy choice recommended by health professionals and leading health organizations. Margarine's that have removed the trans fatty acids from their product has received the endorsement from the heart foundation. So, just because butter comes straight from nature doesn't mean it's healthier for you.
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