AskNadia: Best Margarine to Use for My Cholesterol

Dear Nadia,

I am a type 2 diabetic who uses medication and insulin. At night, I take cholesterol medication and check my blood pressure. My cholesterol is in the normal range. I use vegetable margarine for my toast, and I want to know if it’s the best spread to use?

Ilyaas Malik

Dear Ilyaas,

If you are on cholesterol medication, it means you need to watch your saturated fats because you are at risk at having a cardio vascular episode. The saturated fats come from animal products like butter, cheese, beef, and pork that build plaque in your arteries.

The Benefit of Margarine

Switching to margarine that contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is better for your cholesterol in addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits it provides.

The advantages of eating monounsaturated fats is that they help your digestive system absorb soluble vitamins like E, D, A and K from your diet. Margarine made from vegetable oils such as olive oil, sunflower, and canola oils is better for your cholesterol than butter.

Trans Fats

The downside to using margarine is that some may have trans fats. Read the nutritional label to determine if it has trans fat . Even butter has some trans fats. About .05%.

FDA Warning

The FDA warns that eating trans fats increases your risk for heart disease and could cause a heart attack.

This determination was made after Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety, reviewed the research on the health benefits of consuming trans fats.

Paradox

The paradox in substituting margarine for butter is that butter is a saturated fat and has been linked to heart disease.

Measuring Cholesterol

Traditionally healthcare professionals used to advise against eating red meats, dairies and all saturated fats. Today they research food individually because they can now measure the HDL (healthy fat) and the LDL (bad fat) for each food item.

This allows science to report on the actual impact diet has on cholesterol and cardio vascular disease. Saturated fats are no longer measured by cholesterol alone. It’s measured by the risk and benefits of LDL vs. HDL.

Today’s Dietitian reports, “There is no one nutrient that’s responsible for all health ills, and there is no one nutrient that will make us healthy. It is the overall dietary pattern. Dietary patterns consistently associated with good health tend to be low in saturated fat—but not because they focus on saturated fat—rather, it’s because they’re made up of the most nutritious foods preferentially. Those foods tend to be low in saturated fat just as they are low in salt and sugar and free of trans fat and so forth. Those foods are also minimally processed and close to nature, including vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. There is no pixie dust involved. There is no magic formula, and there is no scapegoat. Wholesome foods in sensible combinations could be our salvation.” says Katz, coauthor of the Annual Review of Public Health in 2014.

My Advice

There seems to be no simple answer to your question.

If you are willing to change your diet, perhaps looking for substitutes is something you will want to discuss with your healthcare professional.

Some of my friends have substituted ricotta cheese for butter or margarine on their toast.

I respectfully make this statement when I say; I don’t eat margarine or butter. Foods on the market that have mixed science reviews I eliminated from my diet until there are more conclusive findings.

Keep a log of your foods. Especially your favorites that might be difficult to give up until you find anther alternative. I am confident that you will find the best solution by speaking to your dietitian.

They are a great resource waiting to help you in finding the best balance between what you like and how to balance your cholesterol and blood sugars.

Source:

The Heart Foundation

FDA

Today’s Dietitian

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Disclaimer:

Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professionals therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:
Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia holds 11 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
Her passion for working in the diabetes community stemmed from her personal loss. She has used her experience as a caretaker to forge a career in helping others.

For 25 years, Diabetes Health contributes free copies of the magazine to healthcare professionals and pharmacies that use the publication as an educational resource for patients living with diabetes.

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