What’s the better choice?
If you have high cholesterol or want a more heart healthy, low calorie spread then margarine may be your choice. Margarine’s are made from vegetable oils and usually vegan. If you’ve ever walked through the margarine section of the grocery store you know there are lots of brands and all different phrases used to lure you in to buying a product. Even for me choosing which margarine to buy is a daunting task. The first thing to remember is to avoid the stick margarine’s as they usually contain trans fats which aren’t good for our heart. Once you make it to the margarine’s in a tub section pay attention to the nutrition facts labels. Choose one that is trans fat free such as Country Crock, Smart Balance or Promise. Next, think about what your health risks are. Are you overweight? If so, a “light” margarine may be your best choice since it cuts down the calories. Or maybe you have high LDL cholesterol. Benecol, Promise Activ and Smart Balance Heart Smart all contain plant sterols which are natural plant extracts that compete with the absorption of cholesterol and can result in a decrease of LDL cholesterol by up to 20%. My senior research paper was on plant sterols and after receiving a high LDL cholesterol read 3 years ago I tested this out by taking 2 grams of plant sterols each day for 3 months and my LDL went down by more than 10% and has stayed normal! Other margarine options on the market contain omega-3’s and flax seed oil which may be good to try if you don’t consume fish often.
So, the final answer. If you love butter use it sparingly or try a whipped or mixed blend to make it healthier. If you have heart health history in your family or are vegan go for a tub margarine. I keep them both on hand and use butter for baking, potatoes and a few other dishes, margarine for breads and olive oil for most things I saute.
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Nutrition Break Down per serving
- Stick Butter 100 kcal 11g Fat 7g Sat
- Stick Margarine 100 kcal 11g Fat 2 g Sat + 2.5g trans fat
- Land O Lakes Butter with Olive Oil 90kcal 10g Fat 4g Sat
- Land O Lakes Whipped Butter 50kcal 6g Fat 3.5g Sat
- Promise Regular Spread 80kcal 8g Fat 1.5g Sat
- Promise Light Spread 45 kcal 5g Fat 1g Sat
- Smart Balance Omega-3 Spread 80 kcal 8g Fat 2.5g Sat (Contains EPA/DHA and ALA)
- Country Crock Original 70 kcal 7g Fat 2 g Sat
- Country Crock Light 50 kcal 5g Fat 1.5g Sat
- Smart Balance Heart Right 80 kcal 8g Fat 2.5g Sat (Contains 1.7 grams Plant Sterols)
- Smart Balance Heart Right Light 45 kcal 5g Fat 1.5g Sat fat (Contains 1.7 grams Plant Sterols)
- Promise Activ Spread 70 kcal 8g Fat 1 g Sat Fat (Contains 1 gram Plant Sterols)
- Promise Activ Spread Light 45 kcal 5g Fat 1g Sat Fat (Contains 1 gram Plant Sterols)