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Butter versus margarine - which spread fat is healthier?
For most people in Germany, butter or margarine are part of the daily diet. But which of the two spreadable fats is actually healthier? That explains an expert from the USA.
The question of whether butter or margarine is healthier also goes hand in hand with the discussion about "good" and "bad" cholesterol. That's what Katherine Zeratksy, a nutritionist registered in the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA), says. In a recent article, the expert explains: "If we think about butter and margarine from a health perspective, especially from the point of view of the cardiovascular system, margarine seems to have a certain advantage."
Natural product versus industrially produced product
As the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) explains, butter is a spreadable fat that is made from milk, cream (cream) or whey cream (whey cream). As a rule, the milk used comes from the cow, but there is also butter made from sheep's or goat's milk. Butter has a fat content of at least 80 to a maximum of 90 percent, and there are also reduced-fat butter variants on the market.
In contrast to the natural product butter, margarine is manufactured industrially. It is a solid water-in-oil emulsion that is obtained from solid or liquid vegetable or animal fats, according to the BZfE. Spreadable fat with a fat content of at least 80, but at most 90 percent, today usually consists only of vegetable fats. According to the law, their share of milk fat should not exceed three percent.
Butter and margarine may look similar and can also be used for baking or cooking, but when it comes to heart health, the similarities stop, the Mayo Clinic post says. According to Katherine Zeratksy, good fats are what counts for bad fats.
Butter has more saturated fat
"Margarine tends to have more unsaturated fat, while butter has saturated fat." It is known that saturated fat increases "bad" cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
But not every margarine is the same. According to Zeratsky, margarine in a cup is more recommendable than hard pieces in paper, because: "A softer, more fluid product is a better option because it contains more unsaturated fats."
Does that mean you should avoid butter altogether? “Although butter is not considered healthy for some people, they really enjoy the taste. That's why the portion is particularly important, ”says Zeratsky.
How much fat is “allowed” per day
But how much butter or margarine can it be? As the consumer advice center explains on its website, the German Nutrition Society recommends not consuming more than 30 percent of your daily energy in the form of fat.
For example, for a thirty-year-old woman who, with her light physical activity - an office job and little physical activity - only needs 1,800 calories a day, around 58 grams of fat. For your orientation: This is for example about three tablespoons of oil and a tablespoon of butter or margarine and two slices of cheese and an egg.
A balanced fat supply has a beneficial effect on the fat metabolism, according to the consumer advice center. But if you eat a lot of fat, you have an increased risk of becoming overweight with a high energy intake. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.