The margarine industry is committed to the promotion of good health. This includes promoting education and awareness on nutrition. Part of our role is to spread objective information and facts about fats so that consumers can better control the quality of their intake.
Why do we need fats in our diet?
In a healthy balanced diet, the energy that you consume needs to be balanced with the energy that you use for normal body functions and your physical exercise. Based on decades of research, the World Health Organization recommends that adults should derive from 20% up to 30-35% of their daily energy (calories) from fats. Besides being a source of energy, fat provides essential building blocks for the cells in the body, is a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and contains essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6). It also makes food taste good, look good and feel good! We need to eat a reasonable amount of fat every day to stay healthy.
The key is to take the right quantity, and to optimize the quality of fat. The type of fat you choose has an important impact on your health. Too many people still consume too much saturated fatty acids and too few of the good and essential fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids). This is why knowing about the different types of fats and being able to identify them is the first step to a healthy diet!
How is margarine helping us balance our fat consumption?
- Retail vegetable fat spreads and margarines used as ingredients in food products are mostly made of liquid vegetable oils and use only little solid vegetable fat.
- Therefore, a typical soft margarine only contain a limited amount of saturated fatty acids (the solid fats ~20%) and a much higher level of poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids (~ 50% and 30% respectively).
- In particular, margarines and vegetable fat spreads are an important source of the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 and omega-6 families. These are called essential because our body needs them to fulfil various functions and benefits but cannot produce them. So they need to be provided by our diet.
What are fat soluble vitamins?
Vitamin A, D and E are only soluble, and not in water. Vitamin A is vital for good eyesight and healthy skin and plays a role in the immune system. Vitamin D facilitates calcium and phosphorus absorption and helps maintaining strong bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin E is an important protector of essential fatty acids from oxidative damage. Most margarines and vegetable fat spreads can provide vitamins A, D and E. Another good reason to include it in your diet!
Overall, most vegetable fat spreads and margarine are good sources of essential fats and vitamins A, D, E while delivering only little calories (typically around 5% daily energy needs when eating 20g per day). In fact, official nutritional recommendations often include margarine and vegetable fat spreads, highlighting the important role they play in a healthy diet.
Which margarine should I use to spread or cook?
Margarine products are designed for different usages to fit multiple cooking methods. You can use it as such or as an ingredient in other food products. Margarine comes in 3 forms: soft, liquid and hard. Apart from that, it comes in fat levels varying from 10% to 90%. This makes margarine a multi-usage product that accompanies through all your daily meals.
- For breakfast, spread your toast with soft margarine or vegetable fat spreads presented in tubs. For each slice of bread, use 5 g of margarine or fat spread (half a tablespoon). We consider 10g of margarine to be a daily portion.
- For lunch, why not using liquid margarine to stir-fry your vegetables or meat? The recommended dose per portion is 10 ml liquid margarine (1 tablespoon).
- For a pleasurable afternoon snack, have a small homemade cookie and a piece of fruit. For best results in baking prefer full fat margarines. Any of the margarine formats is suitable: liquid margarine (in bottle), hard margarine (in wrapper) and soft margarine (in tub). Most products will inform you if they are suitable for cooking. If a recipe calls for butter, you can replace 50g butter by 50g hard or soft margarine.
- For dinner, you can top your vegetables, pasta, soup or purée with liquid or soft margarine to add taste to your meal. Delicious and healthy!
You can find recipe ideas in our IMACE recipe book!
To learn more about the different types of fatty acids and the role of fats in the diet, please read the dedicated page on our website and download our Facts on Fats brochure.