Friday, April 22, 2011

Margarine is good for you. Really?

Today, we are being told to avoid dairy fat and dairy products because of the type of fat they contain, that is saturated fat. Margarine is an obvious substitute because it is produced with vegetable oils which contain almost no saturated fat. This is no sense advice since we all know that hydrogenated products (like margarine) contain trans-fatty acids. Although you can find margarines with a 0% trans fatty acid label on the market that does not mean that the product is free of trans fatty acids. In fact, a product that has up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled "0 g trans fat"

A very interested study was published almost 15 years ago. It compared margarine vs butter consumption and the effects on health. I can not understand how certain professionals still continue to advice against dairy with studies like this one. The study is titled: "Margarine Intake and Subsequent Coronary Heart Disease in Men"

Participants were followed for 20 years for their consumption of butter and margarine and different health markers. Here is a graph of the data for adjusted incidence of heart attacks

You can clearly see that as you increase margarine consumption heart attacks increase (this increase was statistically significant). Also there is a small decrease of heart attacks with butter consumption but it is too low to make a statement about it (this decreae was NOT statistically significant)

IN ADDITION, researchers broke down data in two periods and examined the incidence on each period. They analyzed the first 10 years of data and found that there was no statistical difference between margarine or buter consumption in regard to CHD incidence. However, in the second period, that is in the second block of 10 years, the difference was very significant. IN FACT, people who ate 5 teaspoon per day of margarine had almost 80% more heart attacks that people who ate none:

You could say that this study is too old (made between 1960 and 1990) but the results are extremely important. You could also say that today margarine has almost none trans fat but the truth is that margarine is still a processed food and we do not know (yet) the effects that such processing may have on our health until another 10 or 20 years pass.

To be on the safe side, stick to the butter............................

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