Butter versus Margarine

‘Chewing the fat’ – Discussing dietary fats

What a great bunch of headlines!:

‘Could ‘healthy’ margarine fats be bad for you?’ (NHS Choices), ‘Heart attack risk in ‘healthy spreads’’ (Daily Express), ‘At last, the truth: Butter is GOOD for you – and margarine is chemical gunk’ (Daily Mail), ‘Chewing the fat’ (British Heart Foundation).

This all stemmed from research published by the British Medical Journal that was then published as a news item by the British Heart Foundation. The mainstream media then widely reported on the story. The main finding of the research and subsequent press releases was actually of a very serious topic:

”Replacing saturated animal fats with polyunsaturated fats rich in omega-6 linoleic acid may not be beneficial for heart patients, researchers have claimed.” (British Heart Foundation). The BHF summary of the research (link to full news item below) goes on to say:

“Linoleic acid is present in high amounts in some commonly used vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean. Researchers recovered missing data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study in the 1960s. The trial involved 458 men aged 30-59 years who had suffered a heart attack or an episode of angina.

Using modern statistical methods to compare death rates, researchers concluded that there was no evidence of the benefit of replacing saturated fats with omega-6 linoleic acid in this group of people, and actually a possible increased risk of cardiovascular disease”.

BHF Senior Dietitian, Victoria Taylor, said: “Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated alternatives is a well-known recommendation for your heart, which is based on many large and in-depth studies. However, this research highlights the need for us to further understand how different unsaturated fats affect our risk of heart disease”.

“Whichever fats you use, it’s important to be sparing with them”.

There is a good page on the British Heart Foundation website with a basic overview of the different fats commonly found in foods: Fats explained.

Please do comment on this item – you can use the ‘leave a reply’ option below, or comment on the story via our Facebook page (link to the right).

The Full News Item on the BHF Website:Discussing dietary fats.


Last updated on 16th December 2014 by


We'd love your comments on this article
It's easy, just post your questions, comments or feedback below

Names will be displayed as entered. Your email address will not be published. Required *