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which one is better margarine or butter?

(April 15, 2011)

Margarine is prepared from vegetable oils and hence does not have cholesterol. It also contains greater amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are considered the good fats. These fats are beneficial in decreasing the bad cholesterol or LDL levels. Butter comprises of animal fat and hence has a higher level of cholesterol and saturated fats in it.

However, not all types of margarine are prepared in the same manner.

Some margarine may even be unhealthier than butter. Margarine is usually processed through the method of hydrogenation. This leads to the occurrence of trans-fats which are not healthy for the body. If the body tries to incorporate trans-fatty acids into its membranes, deformities may occur in the cellular structures. Consumption of these trans-fatty acids and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils can increase the risk of inflammation and cancer. It also speeds up the process of ageing and can contribute to degenerative alterations in the body tissues. Margarine that is more solid contains more trans-fats. It is better to opt for tub margarine that is softer in texture and hence contains less trans-fat. Much like saturated fats, trans-fats also lead to an elevation in the levels of blood cholesterol and increase the possibility of heart disease. Trans-fats are also known to reduce the levels of good cholesterol or HDL. When buying margarine, it is advisable to opt for the one with the lowest content of trans-fats. The total content of saturated fats and trans-fats should be lower than two grams. The content of saturated and trans-fats must be listed separately on the food labels of margarine brands. Those margarines that contain plant sterols are more beneficial as they help to lower LDL levels of the blood by up to 10 per cent. Margarines that have liquid vegetable oil listed as the first ingredient are a better option. Certain types of margarine have water as their first ingredient. These are light margarines that contain an even lower content of saturated fat.  

Some people may not prefer the taste of margarine and hence may be reluctant to give up butter. These people may opt for reduced calorie or light butter. Whipped butter is also a better option. Spreadable butters with added vegetable oils are also available in the market. These products contain a lesser amount of calories and fats than regular butter. However, these must be consumed in moderation. There are also some other alternatives to butter or margarine. One can use olive oil instead.

Submitted by S M on April 15, 2011 at 02:05


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