Know your butter
First, butter lost its place at the head of the table due to widespread panic over saturated fat, and margarine was king. Then margarine was revealed to be a health villain when we discovered that its trans fat is even worse than saturated fat. Now the refrigerated dairy section has seen a somewhat confusing proliferation of new, creamy, light yellow spreads –– they’re called spreads, not margarine, if they are made up of less than 80 percent oil.
Most of them say “no hydrogenated oils!” or “trans fat free!” because in the old margarine days, these spreads were all made of hydrogenated vegetable oil, a.k.a. trans fat. (The careful label reader will notice that these new spreads still contain hydrogenated oil. That’s because food marketers are allowed to say something is “free” if there is .5 gram or less.) Some are made with only “cold-pressed” or “expeller pressed” oils. Some are enhanced with healthy, omega-3 oils. Others are pumped up with plant sterols, in hopes of reducing high cholesterol. Most of the stick margarines have more trans fat or saturated fat than the tub margarines and spreads, because it’s trans or saturated fat that allows sticks to hold their shape.
Some spread factors to consider:
- Price. Depending on how the spread is made and what is added to it, etc., prices can range dramatically.
- Taste. It’s a very subjective matter, so experiment a bit. A recent Consumer Reports taste test gave Smart Balance the nod for best flavor.
- Fat profile. Go for the lowest in trans and saturated fat, but understand that less fat means more water and can mean the spread isn’t suitable for use in cooking.
- Calories. If you’re looking to reduce caloric intake, a tablespoon of spread can contain 5 calories (fat-free) or 100 calories (full-fat). If you’re not watching calories, however, you’re better off getting the benefits of the polyunsaturated oils used in the higher calorie, higher fat spreads.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
Wild Mushroom Pate Cucumber Stuffed with Jalapeño and Cheese Pickle and Macaroni Salad Strawberry Oat Pancakes Lemon Grilled Vegetables and Garlic Korean Barbecued Beef Scallops on Watercress Roast Turkey Stew Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Berries Pork Tenderloin Diane with Wild Rice
As a Type A personality with a perfectionist streak, diabetes management is something that easily gets under my skin. If I can’t do something perfect, then I’d much rather just not do it at all. Which is why burnout creeps up on me super fast. A few days of pesky numbers and I am ready to throw all things diabetes out the window and watch it get hit by an 18-wheeler. So attempting to get my A1c into the lowest possible range ever has proven incredibly tasking for my perfectionist...