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Health Food Imposter #14: Margarine

This spread is often touted as the healthier alternative to butter, but is it really? No! “What’s in margarine? Hope you’ve got a minute: Liquid canola oil, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, plant stanol esters, salt, emulsifiers (vegetable mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin), hydrogenated soybean oil, potassium sorbate, citric acid and calcium disodium EDTA to preserve freshness, artificial flavor, DL-alpha-Tocopheryl acetate, and vitamin A palmitate,” says Carol Cottrill, a certified nutritional consultant and author of The French Twist. Whoa, that's a lot of stuff. And while margarine is cholesterol free, says Cottrill, your cholesterol reading has more to do with the mix of fats in your bloodstream rather one particular food.

The Better Pick: Butter. What’s in butter? Cream and salt. One tablespoon of unsalted butter contains 100 calories, 11 g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 30 mg cholesterol and 2mg sodium. Margarine and its 87 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 98 mg of sodium is the clear loser here.

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