Remember when all you needed to decide was whether to buy butter or margarine and then it was stick or tub. Now the decisions in this category are mind boggling. There are margarines and butters filled with functional ingredients such as omega-3s, plant sterols, calcium, and vitamin D. And now that all margarines say “0 gram Trans fats”, the question is are they hiding the Trans fats below the 0.5 gram limit with partially hydrogenated oils or have they substituted saturted fats for Trans fats. Or they may brag about their healthy oils–canola, olive, or flaxseed–though it may be too little to matter. In addition, the distinction between butter and margarine is muddled with butters that contain added canola, olive, or flaxseed oils and margarines that include buttermilk and yogurt as ingredients.
Here are the SUPERMARKET SAVVY Picks for the healthiest margarines and/or spreads. Our basic criteria is that they contain no more than 1.5 gram of saturated fat and do not list partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient.
Promise Activ Light and Smart Balance Heart Right Light contain plant sterols or phytosterols that have been shown in clinical studies to help reduce cholesterol by about 10%. The FDA has approved the following claim for phytosterols: “Foods containing at least 0.4 gram per serving of lant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 gram as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Promise Activ has 1 gram plant sterols in a tablespoon. If you choose to use a margarine with plant sterols to lower cholesterol, remember that it works by inhibiting the absorptionof cholesterol and needs to be eaten several times a day every day. The ‘Light’ version has 3 gram less fat and 35 less calories.
Don’t take t for granted that spreads that claim they are made with healthy oils such as canola, olive or flaxseed are healthy. Check the ingredient list to see where the oil is listed. It should be the first ingredient. Also check the saturated fat content and keep it under 1.5 grams. Canola Harvest Margarine has only 1 gram of saturated fat and ‘canola’ is the first word on the ingredient statement.
Leave a Reply