Butter vs. Margarine: Food fight – Jennifer Ozsungur featured in the Toronto Star
January 16, 2013
Pros: Butter is all natural and made from just one ingredient: cow’s milk.
Solid at room temperature, tasty and versatile, butter is easy to cook and bake with.
It contains essential vitamins and minerals, including keratin and vitamin A, which bolster our sight. It also contains vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, which promotes skin elasticity.
Butter contains ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, also found in plants, such as soybeans and flax. Studies show it may lower our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cons: Butter is fattening, with just more than 35 calories per teaspoon, which is roughly 100 calories a tablespoon.
Butter is high in saturated fats, which can increase our risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat should comprise no more than 10 per cent of our daily calories, says registered dietitian Jennifer Ozsungur. For the average person, that means a limit of 10 to 15 grams of saturated fat per day. There is 2.5 grams of saturated fat per teaspoon of butter.
Pros: Margarine’s greatest attribute is that it’s lower than butter in saturated fat. Many margarine brands contain about 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 2 tsp. That is much less than the 5 grams of saturated fat in the same amount of butter.
For that reason, Ozsungur recommends margarine to diabetics and those with obesity or cardiovascular disease.
Some margarines lower their calorie counts by whipping in water or air. Others are low in sodium, have added omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect our arteries against free-radical damage, or have added plant sterols, which can lower our LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Cons: Margarine is a processed food with a long list of ingredients, some of which are unrecognizable.
Not all margarines are created equal. Many on the market contain saturated fats and some have trans fats, which increase our blood levels of bad LDL cholesterol and lower our levels of the good HDL cholesterol. Trans fats are the unwitting byproduct of attempting to chemically create a spread that is solid at room temperature, like butter.
In the past two decades, margarine manufacturers have reduced or removed trans fats from their products and replaced many chemical ingredients with water or heart-healthy canola and olive oils.
But essentially, the onus is on the consumer to look for margarines that do not contain trans fats or high amounts of saturated fat.
Hard margarines, called stick margarines, are particularly bad, containing high amounts of trans fats. “Completely stay away from stick margarine. It is deadly,” says registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon.
Margarine contains omega-6 fatty acids, which North Americans eat too much of because it is found in vegetable oils and many processed products.
The Bottom Line
If you’re eating a lot of saturated fat — say, your idea of breakfast is a muffin and coffee with two creams — using butter might push you over your daily limit, says Ozsungur. That’s why she steers patients toward Becel margarine, which is low in saturated fat and “not hydrogenated,” meaning it contains no trans fats.
But if your diet is balanced and low in saturated fat, you might want to go with the natural choice: butter.
No matter which you choose, watch your portion size. “When it comes to calories, fat equals fat equals fat,” says Lindzon. “No matter how you spread it, you’re spreading fat on your bread.”
Original Post Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Author: Michele Henry