Still eating products that “taste like” real butter? Next time you’re at the grocery store, just get the real thing.
That seems to be the advice from a massive new Canadian study published in the British Medical Journal, which found that the saturated fats in butter are unlikely to kill you, while the trans fats in margarine actually could.
Even though traditional dieting advice stipulates that people should avoid saturated fats as much as possible, this study, which is the biggest of its kind ever, found “no association” between saturated fat intake and a heightened risk of death, whether from stroke, heart disease or diabetes. But the trans fats found in processed foods like margarine were found to increase an overall risk of death by 34 per cent. They were also tied to a 28 per cent increased risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 21 per cent increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
That would suggest you’ve been sacrificing flavour for something that was less-nutritious (and perhaps, deadly) this entire time!
The research looked at 50 studies involving more than 1 million people to make its findings. Despite their conclusions, however, the study’s authors aren’t advising people to embrace a diet high in saturated fats, so don’t binge out quite yet.
“Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear,” lead study author Dr. Russell de Souza told The Telegraph. “That said, we aren’t advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines, as we don’t see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health.”
If you’re still a little confused, saturated fats are fats that come mainly from animal products like beef, salmon, eggs and butter. Trans fats, on the other hand, do not occur naturally and are mainly produced industrially from plant oils for use in snack foods, fast foods, packaged baked goods and, of course, margarine.
Right now, Canada’s food guide explicitly recommends a “small amount” of margarine per day “to get the fat you need.” But it also states to “choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats.”
Looks like an update might be on the horizon for them. Happy butter spreading!