Nutrition for Today: Is butter better?

Many years ago researchers concluded that too much-saturated fat in the diet leads to high blood cholesterol levels, and ultimately to heart disease. Margarine was recommended instead, which contains much less saturated fat, no cholesterol, and often contains fewer calories.

In light of the discovery about trans fats, manufacturers scrambled to find new ways to produce margarine without the creation of trans fats. They succeeded, and now it is hard to find a margarine that contains any trans fat at all, with the exception of stick margarine (the one that resembles butter — that rectangular block wrapped in wax paper).

As a matter of fact, the FDA has now banned trans fat from processed food, and after the deadline of June 2018, we will no longer find any trans fat in any food sold in the United States.

So where does this leave us in the great debate of butter versus margarine?

Studies continue to demonstrate that butter raises cholesterol. The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study tracked over 71,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 for 13 years. Researchers found that for every teaspoon of tub margarine consumed rather than the same amount of butter, an 8 percent reduction in risk of heart attack was observed.

But what if you just really prefer the taste of butter? Is it okay to use a little bit? Well, sure it is. It’s all about controlling your total intake of saturated fat, and not going over your daily limit. If you want to use a little butter, just be cautious about other sources of saturated fat in your diet, so you don’t end up going overboard.

An even better choice would be to use olive oil whenever you can, rather than either butter or margarine.

Florida Today