Health

Which one is ‘better’ for your health?

Nutrition


Is margarine what you should choose for your health – or is butter a better spread?

“I think most people assume that margarine or butter alternatives are a healthier choice because they have less saturated fat, which is not necessarily true,” said Jillian Kubala, a registered dietitian based in New York, at Fox News Digital.

“Fats are often misunderstood and oversimplified, even by medical professionals, which has led to general demonization and fear of fats,” she also said.

“The truth is that fats are very complex and their physiological effects depend on their composition, their source, etc. »

Butter is a dairy product, while margarine is usually made from vegetable oils and water, often with added emulsifiers and flavorings.

Before you spread a spread on your toast or slide some into the pan, take a look at some of the health benefits of butter versus margarine.

What are the health stats of butter?

Kubala highlighted the nutritional information on butter using the USDA Central Food Data Database.

As she broke it down, a typical serving of butter is one tablespoon, which provides the following:

Calories: 102

Total fat: 11.5g

Saturated fat: 7.3g

Margarine tends to be lower in calories than butter. Getty Images

What are the health benefits of margarine?

The nutritional specifications of margarine for a one-tablespoon serving are generally as follows, according to Kubala:

Calories: 84.8

Total fat: 9.56g

Saturated fat: 2.34 g

Even though margarine contains less total fat and saturated fat than butter, not all low-fat foods are necessarily “better” for you, Kubala said.

Even though margarine contains less total fat and saturated fat than butter, not all low-fat foods are necessarily “better” for you, Kubala said. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Margarine, for example, can be made with oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids, she said.

“Although omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for health, most Americans eat diets much higher in omega-6,” Kubala said, pointing to a 2021 study published by the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association.

“(Omega-6s) are concentrated in vegetable oils, (rather) than omega-3s, which are concentrated in seafood and some plant foods, like chia seeds,” she said.

“This leads to an imbalance favoring omega-6, which tends to be more inflammatory in nature, over omega-3, which is anti-inflammatory.”

She continued: “Health experts suggest that this dietary imbalance is one of the main factors behind many chronic inflammatory diseases, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, increased disease risk factors heart disease, certain cancers and cognitive decline. »

What about vegan or “plant-based” spreads?

In recent years, plant-based “butters” have become increasingly popular. Plant-based “butters” are typically made from various vegetable oils such as coconut, soy, or avocado.

To make them taste more like butter and give them the right texture, emulsifiers and flavorings are often added.

“Some plant-based spreads are made with minimal nutritious ingredients such as nuts or nut milk, but most butter alternatives are typically highly processed and made with omega-6-rich oils” , said Kubala.

Kubala said that if you are looking to consume a spread with a butter-like texture or a butter substitute to use while you cook or bake, then choosing a plant-based product is “perfectly fine “.

“Some plant-based spreads are made with minimal nutritious ingredients such as nuts or nut milk, but most butter alternatives are typically highly processed and made with omega-6-rich oils” , said Kubala. Getty Images/iStockphoto

“While consuming small amounts of butter substitutes does not have a significant impact on health, I still recommend opting for minimally processed foods as much as possible,” she said.

“For example, if you can’t have butter due to dietary restrictions, try using mashed avocado or a drizzle of high-quality olive oil in place of butter on toast. “

A 2022 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who consume more than half a tablespoon (7 grams) of olive oil per day have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer or neurodegenerative disease. respiratory illnesses and diseases.

A 2022 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who consume more than half a tablespoon (7 grams) of olive oil per day have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer or neurodegenerative disease. respiratory illnesses and diseases.

Researchers also found that people live longer when they replace 10 grams per day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat with olive oil, Fox News Digital previously reported.

Conclusion of the butter versus margarine debate

There are different types of saturated fats (small-, medium-, and long-chain saturated fats), “which have complex and variable effects on heart disease risk factors,” Kubala said.

Still, she added, health organizations have long recommended that people reduce their intake of saturated fats to improve heart health.

“While it is important to avoid certain high-fat foods, like fried foods, this general recommendation to reduce foods high in saturated fat, like butter, and replace them with low-fat alternatives, like margarine, has not done much for public health,” Kubala said.

She added: “Rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity have increased steadily over time as Americans have become more dependent on low-fat foods, like sugary carbohydrates, salad dressings low fat and butter substitutes. »






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