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Butter, margarine, and cooking oils

Which should you use -- margarine or butter? Well... neither is ideal, because butter is loaded with saturated fat, and almost all margarines have some saturated fat and trans-fatty acids. However, if you must use one or the other, look for trans-fat free margarines.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Use oil, such as olive or canola instead of butter or margarine as often as you can and whenever you cook.
  • Always choose trans-fat free margarines and avoid any product that contains trans fat. Look to the ingredients, avoiding any products that list "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated oil" in their ingredients.
  • If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about using margarines made from plant sterols or stanols. These substances, made from soybean and pine tree oils, can help lower your LDL cholesterol by as much as 6 to 15%. The AHA recommends further study for children, pregnant women, and those without high cholesterol, however.


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Review Date: 12/31/2012
Reviewed By: Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH, FACC Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College; Private Practice specializing in Cardiovascular Disease in Greenwich, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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