Butter, margarine or something else?

My Dad was born in 1927, a child of the depression growing up in a working class suburb in Auckland. He would fondly remind me of his favourite childhood food – bread and dripping! In the world of nutrition we’ve come a long way in our understanding of fats and those that are helpful to health and those that have the potential to harm our health. Dad’s dripping would definitely fall into the latter category.

In 2018, dripping doesn’t feature in our weekly shop at the supermarket, but what about the other fats?

Butter has made the news lately as the price goes through the roof. It’s economics 101 with demand outstripping supply. Of late, butter has been promoted as natural and some one-off pieces of research suggest it’s now got the tick for good health. However, if we unpack the large body of evidence from the experts, replacing foods higher in saturated fat (found in butter) with unsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado and healthy plant oils) does reduce the risk of heart disease.

Here are the Heart Foundation’s tips for including more heart-friendly fats each day:

  • Many people make the change from butter to margarine to lower saturated fat in their diet. If you
    just can’t give up the butter, cut back instead of cutting out.
  • Spreading butter or margarine on bread is a Kiwi habit. There are lots of delicious alternatives, so
    try something a little different: –
    –  avocado (try our guacamole below)
    –  hummus
    –  cottage cheese
    –  peanut butter
    –  relish, pickle, mustard or
    –  light cream cheese.
  • When cooking use a vegetable oil such as canola, sunflower or rice bran instead of butter.
  • Enjoy oily fish such as canned salmon, sardines, kahawai or warehou in meals a couple of times
    per week. They are a good source of omega-3, which may reduce your risk of heart disease and
    stroke. Fish pie, fish chowder, salmon and salad sandwiches or sardines on toast are just a few
  • Nuts are an excellent source of good fats and a great snack that’s also rich in fibre and protein. Have a handful every day, but choose unsalted, dry roasted or raw nuts. If you can’t manage raw nuts try a nut spread – almond or cashew butter on crackers or toast.
  • Choose reduced fat milk (green, yellow or light blue top), lower fat cheese (Edam, Noble or feta) and low fat yoghurt. If you’re out at a café choose a trim cappuccino or latte. However, if you are underweight use full-fat milk and full-cream yoghurts.
  • Finally, whether you choose butter or margarine, it’s your overall food pattern that looks after your health:-
    –  plenty of vegetables and fruit
    –  grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
    –  some milk and milk products, mostly low- and reduced-fat
    –  some legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs or poultry, or red meat with the fat removed.

About Senior Chef

Senior Chef
Senior Chef is an 8-week cooking class for people aged 60 and over who want to improve their cooking skills, confidence, or motivation around cooking for one or two people. Classes are held in various locations around Christchurch and Canterbury. Senior Chef is free to attend. Everything, including the ingredients for the cooking class and recipe book, is provided. To find out more, go to seniorchef.co.nz, email senior.chef@pegasus.org.nz or phone 0800 333 405.