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Margarine or butter?

Margarine is assumed to be better, but it’s not ideal. Read on to find out why



THE QUESTION Is butter better?

The debate has been around nearly as long as butter and margarine have coexisted: Is one truly healthier than the other? The confusion persists for good reason. Butter, used for thousands of years, is made from animal products, making it high in cholesterol and saturated fat, linked to heart disease. Margarine is made from polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn oil, which do not contain saturated fats.

Most people assume that makes it heart-healthy. Not exactly. The process of turning polyunsaturated oils into semisolid table spreads creates trans-fats, which are just as bad as saturated fats. But most studies and health experts suggest that margarine, selected carefully, can be a safer choice. Because higher levels of trans-fat make margarines more solid, it is best to choose those that are liquid or sold in tubs. Many varieties now contain water or liquid vegetable oil instead of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which can make them free of trans- fats. Even better, is to choose an alternative like olive oil.

The bottom line: Margarine generally contains less fat and cholesterol than butter, but it is not ideal. — NYT

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