Choose soft, trans-fat free soft margarine spreads over butter, says the
National Cholesterol Education Program
September is National Cholesterol Education Month
WASHINGTON, DC – Confused by the margarine/butter debate?
For a heart-healthy diet, choose soft, trans-fat free soft margarine spreads, says the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) as part of its education materials focused on National Cholesterol Education Month (September). The 2005 Cholesterol Month theme, "Know your cholesterol numbers, know your risk" emphasizes two of NCEP’s cholesterol guidelines: the importance of having your cholesterol measured and knowing your risk of developing heart disease, says NCEP.
NCEP confirms that "research has clearly shown that lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk of developing heart disease" with diet and lifestyle being key.
In an effort to help educate consumers about the role dietary fat/cholesterol play in maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels, several Q and A’s on NCEP’s Cholesterol Month website can help (http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/cholmonth/q_a.htm), and include the following:
What do saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in foods have to do with heart disease? Saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in the diet all raise the level of LDL "bad" cholesterol in the blood. The higher the LDL cholesterol, the greater the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), the main form of heart disease and a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States. Saturated fat and trans fat raise LDL similarly, but Americans consume 4-5 times as much saturated fat as trans fat. Saturated fat is the chief dietary culprit that raises LDL, but consumers need to know about all three - saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol - in the foods they eat to reduce their risk for CHD and stay heart-healthy.
Is it better to eat butter instead of soft margarine spreads to avoid trans fat? No. The combined amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in butter is usually higher than in soft margarine spreads. Many margarines available contain no trans fat. Soft (tub) or liquid margarine usually contains less trans fat than hard (stick) margarine and less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter.
Additional tips from NCEP can be found at: http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/cholmonth/tips.htm
For more information on the health benefits of choosing soft margarine spreads over butter, go to www.butteryspreads.org.
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The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) in November 1985. The goal of the NCEP is to contribute to reducing illness and death from coronary heart disease (CHD) in the United States by reducing the percent of Americans with high blood cholesterol. Through educational efforts directed at health professionals and the public, the NCEP aims to raise awareness and understanding about high blood cholesterol as a risk factor for CHD and the benefits of lowering cholesterol levels as a means of preventing CHD.