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Butter or Margarine?

Blueprint, 2006

Go for butter. Especially if you only have one pat of butter a week on the world's best baguette. But bear in mind that eating too much butter can drive up your cholesterol levels. One tablespoon (a very generous pat) contains seven grams of saturated fat, which is about a third of your daily RDA (20 grams). (When it comes to baking, of course, the flavor of butter is unparalleled.) Most margarines are a mixture of soybean oil and food additives, and not all are healthy substitutes, since many contain transfatty acids (listed on labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils). Trans-fatty acids are linked to heart disease and can raise LDL cholesterol levels even more than the saturated fats found in butter, according to Lynne M. Ausman, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Try Cabot butter, suggests Lucinda Scala Quinn, Blueprint's food editor, and always choose unsalted. It's best to add salt to foods yourself so that you can control the taste -- and your sodium intake. If you have high cholesterol, consider Benecol or Take Control spreads; both contain plant extracts that block the absorption of cholesterol.