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Dietitian Q/A

Because of the contents of some questions and the large number we receive, the MUSC Dietitians only answer selected questions. Although we discourage questions regarding personal health problems, scheduling an appointment with the outpatient dietitian to address these concerns is encouraged. Appointments can be made after a physician referral is received.

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 Question:  Which is better, butter or margarine?


In general, margarine (specifically the tub-kind) is a better option than butter. 1 Tablespoon of butter contains 33mg of cholesterol and 7g of saturated fat. Cholesterol and saturated fat are both bad for the heart. Margarine is significantly lower in both saturated fat and cholesterol. The reason many people are hesitant to switch to margarine is because many margarines used to contain trans-fats. Trans-fats are actually worse for you heart than both saturated fat and cholesterol, and should be completely avoided if possible. Over the past decade, food companies have worked hard to remove trans-fats from their products. While most margarine products are now trans-fat free, if the ingredient list on a nutrition fact label contains the words 'hydrogenated' or 'partially hydrogenated' oil, the product contains trans-fats and should be avoided. Another benefit of margarine over butter is that many varieties of margarine are made from oils which contain mono- and poly-unsaturated fats that are good for the heart. 

Answered: 02/02/2011

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