They look almost the same. And yet they are worlds apart. Choosing the right one can make a great difference in your health and that of your family.
Are you confused about which spread would be better on your breakfast toast? Have you failed to decide which one to pick from the supermarket? Then it is time to settle the debate once and for all.
Taste-wise, butter ranks higher than margarine. Butter is a rich source of selenium and is packed with Vitamins A, D, E and K. However, it does contain saturated fat, which is what makes butter somewhat unhealthy. Saturated fat increases LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) in blood and lowers the level of HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), thus contributing to heart diseases.
According to the Dietitians Association of Australia, Margarine and plant-based products being high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are more cardio protective than saturated fats. But it depends on the amount of consumption. These fats help reduce LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein). Concern regarding margarine arises over the trans fat content in them, which is responsible for clogging up arteries. The more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. So opting for liquid margarine is better.
A 2015 article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said that a significant reduction in the risk of heart disease was observed, after a diet including butter was replaced with margarine. This was inferred after researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied the diets of 1,30,000 doctors and nurses over almost 30 years.
The Harvard study has been challenged by an adviser to the National Obesity Forum. He is of the opinion that butter has a neutral effect on our body while margarine can be potentially harmful. According to him, all polyunsaturated fats present in margarine are not necessarily good for the heart.
The University of Cambridge in 2015 found that saturated fat present in dairy product might protect against diabetes. Another research by McMaster University in Canada failed to find a link between saturated fat and ill health.
Is there a winner?
When the time comes to declare the winner, it’s about striking the right balance. Food intake when done in a balanced manner helps to maintain good health. Excess of anything does more harm than good.
If you want to opt for margarine, then remember to read the label on the pack before purchasing. The nutritional value will say it all. On the other hand, if you wish to opt for butter, make sure you take it judiciously. If you are still confused, then perhaps you should have a talk with a doctor or a nutritionist. Most importantly, limit the amount you use irrespective of your choice. Remember, even too much of water is bad for health. The same rule applies to butter and margarine.
By Khalid Md. Saifullah
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