June 05, 1998
Now Should I Use Butter?
What is a person to do about conflicting diet advice on avoiding heart disease? Recent studies suggest margarine is worse than animal fats in its artery clogging potential. Doctors have known for some time that saturated fats, the ones that stay solid at room temperature, are not as good for you as unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils. Americans like spreading solid fats on their toast and bread rather than using liquid oils as the Mediterranean cultures have done with olive oil for centuries. To produce vegetable oils which stay solid at room temperature, they are hydrogenated, a process whereby hydrogen gas is bubbled through the oil, "saturating" it with hydrogen. Both saturated animal fats (butter) and plant oils (margarine) have been shown to be unhealthy for the heart. The solution? Use one of the new olive oil spreads which are in a tub or which have been mixed with water and other natural stabilizers to make them semi-solid at room temperature. what about Olivio, an olive oil containing spread promoted by former Chrysler head Lee Iacocca. Unfortunately it still has some possibly harmful trans-fatty soybean. Smart Balance, another olive oil containing spread, has no trans-fatty acids but contains some saturated palm oil. Your best bet? Dip or drizzle unsaturated or monosaturated oils like olive oil! Or, with pump spray gadgets like Misto you can spray your toast with your favorite oil instead of spreading margarine.