During this challenge we have been focusing on some heart healthy topics. Not only do we all wish to lose weight and shrink our jeans, but we also want to be healthy-heart healthy savvy too.
When making better choices in our diets, deciding which is better, butter of margarine can be confusing. Do you all remember our post about fat? We chatted it up about how we need to stay away from the bad fats such as saturated and trans-fats. Remember? Yes you do…
So knowing all about fats, which is really better? Butter or margarine? Both butter and margarine are both about the same amounts of calories and about 4grams of fat per teaspoon. Let’s take a closer look on what kind of fats are in them, shall we?
Butter is an animal product loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. Both of which increase our risk of heart disease and strokes.
Margarine is made from vegetable oil, which is low in saturated fat and has no dietary cholesterol. But because the liquid vegetable oil in stick margarine is hardened through a process called hydrogenation, it is high in trans-fatty acids. If you recall, trans-fats raise levels of bad cholesterol, but also to lower levels of good cholesterol.
Thankfully there are a number of light spreads and margarine products on the market that are trans-fat-free. Some of these spreads also contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the absorption of cholesterol, making these spreads much healthier alternatives to regular margarine and butter. Because these light margarines and spreads have not been hydrogenated, they are soft and usually sold in tubs rather than sticks.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends margarine over butter, advising us to choose soft tubs varieties over hard sticks. Try and choose a brand with no more than 2 grams of fat per tablespoon and with liquid vegetable oil as the primary ingredient.
In general, the AHA recommends using natural, non-hydrogenated oils such as canola or olive oil, and to look for processed foods without saturated fat or trans fats. Just remember, the important thing is to use these products in small amounts.
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