What’s healthier, butter or margarine?

9 December 2013, 2.19pm AEST

Health Check: what’s healthier, butter or margarine?

Butter gets points for taste; margarine for being easy to spread. But the healthiest option is not strictly called butter or margarine – it’s a “spread”. To improve the health of your heart, choose a spread with the lowest amount of saturated fat and trans fat per 100 grams. You will find this information…

Choose a spread that has the lowest amount of saturated fat and trans fat per 100 grams. http://www.rowenawaack.com

Butter gets points for taste; margarine for being easy to spread. But the healthiest option is not strictly called butter or margarine – it’s a “spread”.

To improve the health of your heart, choose a spread with the lowest amount of saturated fat and trans fat per 100 grams. You will find this information in the “per 100 grams” column of the nutrition information panel.

Butter contains about 50% saturated fat, while margarine has a maximum of 20% saturated fat. The fat content of “light” or fat-reduced spreads is lowered by replacing some fat with protein and water, meaning many are much lower than 20%.

If you choose a full-fat spread (best for cooking), aim for less than 27 grams of saturated fat and one gram of trans fat per 100 grams. For fat-reduced spreads (best for bread and toast), aim for less than six grams of saturates and 0.2 grams of trans fat per 100 grams.

Ingredients

For a product to be called butter, it must be derived exclusively from milk and ingredients that are obtained from milk, including at least 80% milk fat. It may also contain water, salt, lactic acid producing microorganisms and flavour-producing microorganisms.

When you see products in the supermarket that are packaged up like butter, or use words such as “butter-flavoured” without specifically stating the product is butter, it’s likely they have been altered in such a way that it no longer meets the content requirements above.

Butter must contain at least 80% milk fat to use the name. Rosebud

To call a spread margarine, the product must be a spreadable food made of edible oils and water, containing at least 80 grams of edible oils per 100 grams. It may also include water, edible proteins, salt, lactic acid-producing microorganisms, flavour-producing microorganisms and milk products.

Some margarines contain added plant sterols and stanols, a type of fat found in vegetable oil, nuts, legumes, grains, cereals, wood pulp and leaves, which are able to reduce cholesterol absorption from the small intestine into the bloodstream. If you have high blood cholesterol, you may want to use such a product, though you need to consume 20 to 25 grams per day for the maximum effect.

As soon as the fat content of margarine drops below 80 gram per 100 grams, it cannot technically be called “margarine”. This is why the word “margarine” does not appear on labels for spreads that are fat-reduced. These are the healthiest options if you are trying to reduce your total fat and kilojoule intake.

If you are trying to lower your salt intake, check the sodium column on the nutrition information panel and aim for less than 400 milligrams per 100grams.

Cholesterol and saturated fat

Although the debate rages about the potency of specific fats in raising blood cholesterol, most Australians consume too much saturated fat from animal products. Saturated fat from foods and drinks gets manufactured in your body into low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, which then appears in your blood.

Excess LDL cholesterol that cannot be cleared by the liver ends up lining your artery walls. This makes your blood vessels hard and inflexible and they gradually become blocked. From there, it is just a matter of time before the blockage triggers a heart attack or stroke.

Saturated fat is a solid at room temperature and is the predominate fat found in the white fat in meat and dairy products, including milk, cheese, cream and butter.

Reduced-fat spreads are the healthiest option. Flickr/mhaithaca

Replacing butter for a spread that has a lower level of saturated fat is not the only change that can help lower your total saturated fat intake. For many Australians, the majority of their saturated fat comes from full-fat dairy, foods processed using palm oil or coconut oil, fried and fatty takeaway food, and packaged biscuits, cakes, pastries and dips.

The healthier fats are monounsaturated (avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts, cooking oils made from sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut) and polyunsaturated (omega-6 fats from sesame seed, margarine, linseed or flaxseed, sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts and brazil nuts; omega-3 fats from walnuts, linseed and oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel).

The one exception is trans fat. Technically it is an unsaturated fat. However, chemically it behaves exactly like saturated fat and increases LDL cholesterol. The problem is that trans fat also lowers HDL, the “good” cholesterol that carries circulating LDL back to the liver rather than it being deposited on artery walls.

In Australia, trans fat levels in spreads are among the lowest in the world. While most nutrition information panels indicate trans fat content of spreads, companies currently do not have to report it. When the nutrition information panel does not report trans fats, check the ingredients list for hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, from which trans fats are derived.

No matter what the type of fat, they all have the same kilojoule value of 37kJ per gram. So, whether you opt for butter, margarine, a fat spread, nothing, or perhaps some avocado, hummus or tahini paste, keep an eye on the total saturated plus trans fat, and the kilojoules. And overall, try to choose foods that have a better fat quality.

About Dr Colin Holloway

Gp interested in natural hormone treatment for men and women of all ages

Posted on June 4, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. These forms of diabetes usually takes diabetic food
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  2. Interesting commewnt from one of my patients, sent by email:

    There are a few contradiction to your margarine/butter review here, you posted today.

    Regards

    Val

    Having Worked at Unilevers Premier Margarine Factory in the UK for 1 Year, as a Management Trainee, and then in Sri Lanka Managing Margarine Manufacture, I can safely admit that what you are about to read is true !!

    Pass The Butter … Please.

    This is interesting . .. .

    Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.

    It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings….

    DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

    Read on to the end…gets very interesting!

    Both have the same amount of calories.
    Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.

    Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

    Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
    Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!

    Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.

    Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .

    And now, for Margarine..

    Very High in Trans fatty acids.

    Triples risk of coronary heart disease …

    Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

    Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..

    Lowers quality of breast milk

    Decreases immune response.

    Decreases insulin response.

    And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

    Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

    These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

    Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:

    * no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

    * it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

    Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

    Share This With Your Friends…..(If you want to butter them up’)!

    Chinese Proverb:
    When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.

    Pass the BUTTER PLEASE

  3. The only thing I can do is recommend the professor reads “Fat Revolution” Christine Cronau, “Why We Get Fat (and what to do about it)” Gary Taubes, and many other of the more enlightened journalists and physicians who know that grassfed butter, coconut oil, avocado, and olive oil are the ONLY “spreads” humans should consume. Throw out the chemicals and toxic seed oils…………

  4. sunflower, canola oil are very bad oils. Would not touch them. I just use pure butter as that is the real thing, Just use it sparingly.

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