Margarine usually 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.
But not all margarines are created equal — some margarines contain trans fat. In general, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. So stick margarines usually have more trans fat than tub margarines do.
Trans fat, like 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 stick and opt for soft or liquid margarine instead.
Look for a spread that doesn’t have trans fats and has the least amount of saturated fat. When comparing spreads, be sure to read the Nutrition Facts panel and check the grams of saturated fat and trans fat. Limit the amount you use to limit the calories.
Butter facts and nutritional breakdown:
One tablespoon of butter contains:
- 100 calories
- 12 grams of fat
- 7 grams of saturated fat
- 0.5 grams of trans fat 31 milligrams of cholesterol
- 0 grams of carbohydrate
- 0 grams of sugar
6 Healthier Alternatives to Butter:
Is buttered toast a breakfast staple in your house? Spreading avocado on your bread is just as delicious and provides a dose of fibre, vitamin K, and potassium. While high in fat, it’s monounsaturated fat – the heart-healthy kind – which helps to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. And you can bake with avocado too: Simply sub in equal parts pureed avocado for the amount of butter called for in your baked goods.
Olive oil is a popular ingredient in salad dressings and stir fries – but did you know that you can bake with it too? Simply use 3/4 cup of olive oil for every cup of butter called for in a recipe. Olive oil is also an effective butter substitute in pasta sauces and mashed potatoes. Touted as a heart-healthy staple by the American Heart Association, olive oil is loaded with healthy unsaturated fats that are worth the extra calories.
When you’re looking to add protein and moisture to your baked goods, without a ton of extra calories and fat, Greek yogurt is the answer. The popular health food lends an amazing velvety texture to breads and cakes, while adding a hefty dose of protein. Use ½ cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of butter required.
Another way to ensure moist, delicious baked goods while saving tons of calories is opting for applesauce, which works particularly well in sweet recipes. Applesauce is a fabulous swap when baking sweets because it adds moisture and fibre to your baked goods while saving tons of calories. Use equal amounts applesauce for the butter called for in your recipe.
Looking for the perfect topping for that bagel or muffin? Make peanut or almond butter your spread of choice. Much like avocados, nut butters taste great spread on bread and toast, and offer up heart-healthy fats, potassium, and fibre – unlike butter, which can boast very few nutritional benefits. Sprinkle on sliced strawberries or bananas for a tasty and satisfying breakfast.
Coffee cakes and muffins are a great place to swap in pumpkin puree. Not only will you benefit from added nutrients like vitamin k, potassium, and fibre, but you’ll also infuse delicious flavour into your baked goods for very little extra calories. Use ¾ cup of pumpkin puree for every cup of butter called for. Bonus: You can also swap in equal amounts pumpkin puree for any oil called for in baked goods, too.