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HEALTHY TIP; Do you stand in the dairy aisle at your supermarket confused and unable to decide whether to buy butter or margarine? On one hand we are told that margarine is the best thing since sliced bread, on the other, we're told it could be worse for your heart than butter.

Q Is there any difference between butter or margarine? Is one healthier than the other?

A Butter is high in saturated fat, the stuff that affects our cholesterol levels, which is why margarine is sometimes seen as a better choice.

The higher level of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in margarine is kinder to our cholesterol level. However, the manufacturing of margarine involves hydrogenation, a process that produces trans fats.

These not only increase bad cholesterol, they also decrease good cholesterol.

Fortunately there is good news - manufacturers are starting to remove trans fats from margarine.

In the meantime, watch out for hydrogenated fat or oil on the ingredients list. The higher up the list they are, the more trans fat there is.

Here are a few tips to consider:

Avoid buying hard margarines, instead go for the softer ones. These are found in tubs and contain less trans fats;

Remember butter and margarine both contain the same amount of total fat and so use them sparingly;

Use rapeseed oil or olive oil as an alternative for cooking;

Spread a little low-fat mayonnaise, houmous or red pesto on your bread for a sandwich instead of butter or margarine;

Remember reduced fat can still be high in fat - low fat alternatives say "low fat" on the label.

For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK on 0113 297 6206 or email
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 23, 2008
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