Butter vs. Margarine
Have you ever wondered which is better — butter or margarine — when it comes to your health?
First, it's important to know that both are high in fat and calories. Both butter and regular margarine weigh in at around 35 to 45 calories per teaspoon. (If you use reduced-fat margarine, a whole tablespoon gives you the same number of calories.) Butter also contains both cholesterol and saturated fat, and diets high in these substances have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Too much cholesterol can clog the arteries, while saturated fat has been shown to increase levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol.
Margarine, which is made from vegetable oils, doesn't contain cholesterol. But that doesn't mean it's good for your heart. To render the oils solid at room temperature, hydrogen is added during processing, creating trans fats. These fats are thought to be even more harmful to the heart than saturated fats because they not only raise LDL cholesterol but also lower HDL, or "good," cholesterol. Some stick margarines contain relatively high amounts of trans fats, while softer margarines (tub and squeeze versions) usually contain less (if any). However, even some stick margarines are free of trans fats, so be sure to check labels.
So what's a person to do? Cut down on both butter and margarine! Try replacing them with healthier options whenever you can. Butter sprays, for example, add buttery flavor to potatoes, vegetables, and other foods without adding many calories. Butter-flavored sprinkles and trans fat–free spreads can also add flavor with fewer calories and less fat. When sautéing foods, use a cooking spray or a heart-healthy oil like olive or canola, and when baking, try cutting the butter or margarine called for in the recipe by a third. You can also try replacing some or all of the butter or margarine in your baked goods with applesauce, crushed pineapple, mashed bananas, or yogurt.
In short, rather than getting caught up in the butter-versus-margarine debate, do what Duke Diet Online followers do best: Use common sense and portion control. Opt to reduce your use of both fats whenever you can. Every tablespoon you cut will also cut out calories and fat you don't need.