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Butter, margarine, and cooking oils

Some types of fat are healthier for your heart than others. Butter and other animal fats and solid margarine may not be the best choices. Alternatives to consider are liquid vegetable oil, such as olive oil.

What to Use When Cooking

When you cook, solid margarine or butter is not the best choice. Butter is high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol. It can also increase your chance of heart disease. Most margarines have some saturated fat plus trans-fatty acids, which can also be bad for you. Both of these fats have health risks.

Some guidelines for healthier cooking:

  • Use olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine.
  • Choose soft margarine (tub or liquid) over harder stick forms.
  • Choose margarines with liquid vegetable oil, such as olive oil, as the first ingredient.

What Not to Use When Cooking

You should not use:

  • Margarine, shortening, and cooking oils that have more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon (read the nutrition information labels).
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats (read the ingredients labels). These are high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
  • Shortening or other fats made from animal sources, such as lard.

Alternative Names

Cholesterol - butter; Hyperlipidemia - butter; CAD - butter; Coronary artery disease - butter; Heart disease - butter; Prevention - butter; Cardiovascular disease - butter; Peripheral artery disease - butter; Stroke - butter; Atherosclerosis - butter

References

Arnett DK, Blumenthal RS, Albert MA, et al. 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019;74(10):1376-1414. PMID: 30894319 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30894319/.

Hensrud DD, Heimburger DC. Nutrition's interface with health and disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 202.

Mozaffarian D. Nutrition and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 49.

Ramu A, Neild P. Diet and nutrition. In: Naish J, Syndercombe Court D, eds. Medical Sciences. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 16.

Review Date 7/30/2020

Updated by: Thomas S. Metkus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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