Butter vs margarine
Most of us are consuming too much of the unhealthier, saturated fat (which comes mainly from animal products) in our diets. Saturated fat is the fat that raises our LDL (so called, bad cholesterol) levels increasing our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Healthy eating includes replacing unhealthier saturated fat found in foods such as full fat dairy and butter, with healthier polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, found in margarine and oils and choosing reduced or no fat dairy.
Replacing butter with margarine is an easy way to lower our intake of saturated fat and lower our risk of CVD. Small amounts every day add up to large amounts over time. By switching butter for margarine on your morning toast and sandwiches at lunch, you are removing almost 3 kg of saturated fat from your diet in a year.
Q. What’s the problem with butter?
Butter is around 50% saturated fat – that’s the unhealthy fat that raises our cholesterol levels. Margarine is a much healthier choice because it has a maximum of only 20% saturated fat. Used daily in place of butter, margarine helps us to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Q. But surely it’s ok to give butter to my kids – they don’t have cholesterol issues and it’s more natural!
According to The Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey 2007, children are currently consuming twice the recommended maximum levels of saturated fat. The dietary habits established in childhood are often set for life. You can set your children on a healthier eating habit from an early age by making margarine a part of their regular healthy diet.
Q. Isn’t margarine full of deadly trans fat?
Not in Australia, no. The Heart Foundation began challenging Australian manufacturers to remove trans fats to the lowest possible levels many years ago.
So the levels of trans fats in almost all margarines in Australia are now amongst the lowest levels in the world and cannot be compared to those available in other countries, especially not the US.
Q. Can I still cook with butter?
No. Many recipes will still work well if you substitute with margarine or oil. It’s a much healthier way to cook. Click here to find out about the best oils to use for different types of cooking.
Q. This is a taste issue – I just don’t like margarine and I really love butter.
If health is important to you and you make the switch, your tastes will adjust in time – it’s really a question of where your priorities lie. This substitution is the simplest, single most effective change you can make to reduce the saturated fat in your diet.
Q. I’m taking statins/ medication to lower my blood cholesterol levels, so is it ok for me to eat butter?
No. Changing your lifestyle to include a healthy balanced diet and regular physical activity will improve the results of your statin medication.
Choose a canola based margarine - preferably one enriched with phytosterols - in addition to your prescribed medication.
For more information on where to find healthier fats click here.