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Sandra Gray asked...

I am still confused about the correct amount of fat in margarines.

I am still confused about the correct amount of fat in margarines. I read a note too, that although margarines can be low in fat, they contain more undesirable ingredients, and therefore butter can be better. All this needs sorting so that's understandable.

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The answer

Don’t worry. There are so many different types of spreads it is very easy to be confused!  Butter and margarine have the same amount of total fat (around 82%) but margarine has less saturated fat as it is made from vegetable oils rather than dairy fat. Margarine composition is regulated by law and must have added vitamin A and D (butter naturally contains these vitamins). Then there are the many types of spreads usually made from a mixture of oils high in healthier unsaturated fats, such as sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil. Spreads have a similar composition to margarine but are lower in total fat and saturated fat. There are reduced fat spreads, low fat spreads, very low fat spreads, olive oil-based spreads, dairy blends, dairy-free spreads, low salt spreads and cholesterol-lowering spreads (which contain specific plant sterols or stanols with a proven cholesterol-lowering effect). There was concern that margarines and spreads contained trans fats (formed when vegetable oils are processed to make them firm and spreadable) which, like saturated fat, can raise cholesterol levels if over-consumed. However, due to new processes, most are now virtually free from trans fats (check labels). While taste is also a factor, you can check and compare the nutrition information panels for total fat (and calories), saturated fat and unsaturated fat content per 100g and per 10g portion to help you make the best choice for your health needs.

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