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NEWSLETTER

Is there a butter that's better for your heart?

Products with plant stanols are an alternative to butter, but the health claims might not stand up.

To keep your arteries clear, nutritionists frequently recommend limiting your daily intake of butter, which is high in saturated fat. Is it true that butter substitutes made from plant stanols are a superior option?

Plant stanols are generated from the membranes of plant cells. Nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables are examples of foods that contain them naturally. Supplements containing these naturally occurring chemicals have been proven to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol by up to 14 percent in adults taking 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams (mg) per day in previous trials. However, butter-replacement products frequently lack sufficient plant stanols to achieve a therapeutic effect.

 

cholesterol improvement

 
According to Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, you'd need to take at least four tablespoons each day to notice a reduction in cholesterol levels. A tablespoon of a butter substitute containing plant stanols, on the other hand, contains roughly 70 calories. Using that arithmetic, you'd need to ingest 280 calories' worth of the alternative to show a benefit. It's probably not a good idea to eat so much unless you're underweight, "McManus agrees.
 

Types of plant stanols

 
Plant stanols are available in pill form. However, like with other supplements, the quality and quantity of the active components is always a concern. Some plant stanols are available in chewable form; however, keep in mind that these products have a significant drawback: each serving contains approximately 10 grams of added sugar. "It's like candy," McManus says. "As a result, people should be aware of that." According to McManus, the greatest method for lowering cholesterol is to rely on tried-and-true strategies. These include following a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, lowering saturated fat consumption, and aiming to maintain a healthy weight. If you want a healthier alternative to butter, try using liquid oils llike olive or avocado oil, or nut butter as a spread. According to McManus, peanut butter and almond butter are two good possibilities.
 
Traditional butter can still be used, but only for rare events or recipes that require a pure butter flavour, she advises.
 


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