New Margarines Go Softer on the HeartBy
New margarines hardened without partial hydrogenation are likely to be
easier on the human heart than conventional spreads containing trans fatty
acids. The new spreads evolved from findings by scientists with the
Agricultural Research Service and
Results of the study led by Joseph Judd and David Baer are in the September
issue of ARS' Agricultural Research magazine. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal
research agency. The technical report will appear in October's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers looked at effects of butter and two margarines on blood
lipids of 46 volunteers in a 15-week study. Butter evoked the highest total
cholesterol and artery- damaging LDL cholesterol levels.
After 5 weeks of consuming a margarine containing trans fats, the
volunteers' total cholesterol was 3.5 percent lower--and LDL was 5.4 percent
lower--than with butter. Five weeks with a margarine made without trans fats
made a bigger dent in blood lipids. Compared to butter, total cholesterol and
LDL were 4.7 and 6.7 percent lower, respectively. The changes were
larger than could normally be expected, because the volunteers consumed
three to four times more of the spreads than the average American.
Trans fats make up an estimated 2 to 3 percent of total calories in the U.S.
diet. Most trans fats come from partially hydrogenated oils in margarines,
shortening in baked goods, and restaurant fried foods.
The researchers' conclusion: People would be wise to limit trans fats
wherever they can--so long as they don't replace these with saturated fats.
The study's trans-fat-free margarine had 21 percent saturated fat, compared
to 16 percent for typical margarine and 53 percent for butter. More than half
the saturated fat in the trans-fat- free margarine, however, was stearic acid,
which doesn't raise blood lipids.
The Agricultural Research story is on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contacts: Joseph Judd or David Baer, ARS
Beltsville Human Nutrition
Research Center, Beltsville, Md., (301) 504-9014, fax (301) 504-9098,