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Choosing Unsaturated Fats Like Margarine Helps Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.

National Cholesterol Education Month Celebrated as New Study Reports An

Improved Diet Dramatically Reduces Risk

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ --

Simple dietary changes -- like switching from butter and some other dairy foods that are high in total and saturated fat -- can help women reduce their risk of heart disease by as much as 31 percent. These remarkable findings were published in an epidemiological research paper in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition to the new study, September is the government's National Cholesterol Education Month. Both are positive reinforcements of the importance of decreasing those risk factors (such as high cholesterol) which may contribute to the development of heart disease. Unlike foods containing polyunsaturated fat, foods high in saturated fat have been shown to raise blood cholesterol levels. This new study revealed that an increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats, coupled with a decreased saturated fat consumption, played a key role in the reduction of heart disease risk among this group of over 85,000 women who participate in an ongoing Harvard University research project. The major sources in the diet of polyunsaturated fats are margarine, salad dressings, nuts and vegetable oils.

"These findings are a great example of how small dietary changes can equal enormous health benefits. Women and men alike are finally getting the message that diet does play a role in preventing heart disease and they are making changes accordingly," said registered dietitian Sue Taylor, director of nutrition communications for the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers.

According to Taylor, margarine products have continued to play a role in helping Americans lead healthier lives. She points to a recent "Margarine Consumption Trends Report," using data verified by ACNielsen, that confirms that consumption of margarine yielded a reduction in total fat (down 40 percent), saturated fat (down 37 percent) and trans fat (down 59 percent) since 1990 alone.

Furthermore, margarine contains no cholesterol and because it is derived from vegetable oils, it contains mainly heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, margarine also is a leading dietary source of vitamin E, which has been shown to contribute to heart health as well.

A number of studies have clearly confirmed that today's margarine products yield healthier cholesterol levels than do butter. The most recent study appeared in a 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, ten other research studies published over the past four years, involving over 70,000 individuals, have shown that margarine is the clearly the heart-healthy choice.

Although the researchers in this latest study found that other factors (e.g., reduction in smoking and the use of postmenopausal hormones) also aided in reducing heart disease, simple dietary changes were shown to have the greatest influence. "Armed with this information all consumers can make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes needed to reduce their risk of heart disease. And, the margarine industry will continue to help them do this by offering a variety of better-for-you margarine products that can further enhance margarine's already considerable contribution to a heart-healthy diet," Taylor added.

There's no better time than now -- National Cholesterol Education Month -- to make the necessary changes needed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Choose foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat and low amounts of saturated fat to help control cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about the research studies mentioned here, visit http//www.margarine.org .

NAMM, a nonprofit trade association formed in 1936, represents the manufacturers and distributors of margarine products and suppliers to the industry.
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Date:Sep 19, 2000
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