Butter or Margarine?

Fresh butter

Whether to choose butter or margarine is a question that has been asked for decades. So which to go with?

The American Heart Association still suggests using the correctly chosen margarine instead of butter. But not all margarines are created equal – some are loaded with unhealthy fats and additives. Additionally, many health professionals and organizations say that butter, in moderation, is not as bad as we once thought.

Though the scientific debate continues, both margarine and butter can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some tips for you to help choose brands.

If You’re On the Margarine Train….

Margarines vary widely in terms of nutritional content. Always check for the following items on the label:

• Make sure it is free of unhealthy trans-fats
• Opt for margarines with less saturated fat
• Tub margarines tend to be better than stick margarine. Stick margarine tends to be firmer – and firmer fats tend to be higher in saturated fat.
• Unsalted/ low sodium options are best
• Look for Margarines with with Omega 3 and Omega 6. These fats are good for nearly all parts of your body!

If You’re on the Butter Train…

Traditional butter is higher in saturated fat and calories than heart-healthy margarine, but can also be part of a healthy diet. Here are some tips for choosing butter:

• Try whipped butter – whipped butter is lower in calories as it’s less dense than regular butter.
• Light and spreadable butters – These typically contain water, vegetable oils, or preservatives to lower calorie and saturated fat content.
• Unsalted options, like in margarine, are best.
• If you do like traditional butter, try to use smaller amounts.

You can also consider vegetable based oils for your meals. Stock your kitchen with canola, olive, nut (walnut and peanut) and other vegetable oils. Runny oils tend to be better for your body, as they are high in poly and monounsaturated fats. Dip your bread in a little bit of olive oil instead of butter, or use a veggie based oil for frying. These are excellent alternatives to both butter and margarine!

It’s all about moderation. Even traditional butter can be part of a healthy diet, as long as it’s not eaten in excess. Remember, margarine isn’t always better than butter. Margarine high in trans and saturated fats can be less heart healthy than traditional butter. It’s important to read the labels to make your best decision. Happy eating!