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Margarine tops butter when it comes to heart health

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CaptureAs a specialty editor for the nutrition and healthy eating guide, KATHERINE ZERATSKY helps you sort through the facts and ` figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet. A Marinette, Wis., native, Katherine is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999. She is active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition education related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.

To reduce both saturated and trans fat, health experts agree that it is best to replace butter, lard, shortening and hard margarine with poly- and monounsaturated fat from vegetable oils and soft, non-hydrogenated margarine. Margarine is low in saturated fat and has no trans fat. Vegetable oils like olive, canola and sunflower are also good choices. Margarine tops butter when it comes to heart health. Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains unsaturated “good” fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat. Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains more saturated fat. Saturated fat, increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fat lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol levels. So skip the butter and opt for soft or liquid margarine instead. If you have high cholesterol, check with your doctor about using spreads that are fortified with plant stanols and sterols, which may help reduce cholesterol levels.

KATHERINE ZERATSKY, R.D., L.D., MAYO CLINIC, US

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