Is in that spread?
There’s a confusing array of margarines and table spreads out there. Dietitian Brooke Longfield looks at how much saturated fat you could be spreading on your morning toast.
You’ve done the hard work choosing the healthiest bread, but what are you slathering on it? Spreads can be a hidden source of saturated fat, which ramps up your risk of heart disease and weight gain.
Pure butter is high in saturated fat, with one tablespoon having 7–10g, or about a third of your daily limit. And, despite recent news headlines claiming that ‘butter is back’, health experts continue to recommend we limit the amount of saturated fat in our diet.
Margarines and oil spreads are much lower in saturated fat than butter as they’re made from vegetable oils — usually canola or sunflower oil. Canola is also a source of healthy omega-3 fats.
While margarine is highly processed, there is currently no evidence that shows we should avoid it. Some are fortified with plant sterols, which help to lower cholesterol. Your doctor may advise you to use these spreads.
New to supermarket shelves are spreads made with coconut or olive oil. If you choose to use either of these, keep in mind that after processing, they bear little resemblance to pure extra virgin olive or coconut oils.
For a long time, we’ve focused on low-fat diets. But as we learn more about fat, the spotlight has shifted to the of fat we eat, rather than the For example, while nut butter is high in fat, the fat comes from heart-healthy nuts, making it a far more nutritious choice than butter (see right).
So to make a healthy choice, consider the type of fat that’s in your spread — and be mindful of how much you’re using.