Health Watch - Thanksgiving: Butter vs. Margarine

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about planning for Thanksgiving dinner. The traditional meal is a real diet-buster, but you can make adjustments to minimize the nutritional damage. One thing you can do is make substitutions for less-healthy foods, but sometimes, figuring out which food is better can be a challenge.

It’s difficult to make Thanksgiving dinner without using butter. But butter is high in saturated fat, so maybe substituting margarine is a better idea. Except margarine is high in trans-fatty acids. Which do you choose? Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the best choice is a soft tub margarine or liquid margarine. These usually incorporate water or other ingredients that decrease trans-fatty acids and calories. Look for products that are low in trans-fatty acids and saturated fats. However, you can’t usually substitute these in baking. Another option is to use vegetable oil in cooking and seasoned olive oil instead of butter on bread.

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November 2010


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