Is “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Healthy?
“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” margarine is now promoting itself as “crafted from real ingredients” and therefore healthier for us. Is it? Find out from the registered dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center, decades-long experts in peeling away the hype on food products and exposing what’s really within.
On its website and in new commercials featuring a handsome, soulful-eyed, young chef kneading his artisanal bread at a farmers’ market, the margarine “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is praised as now being made solely from “real, simple ingredients” and having “0% artificial preservatives.”
“Now that’s something you can feel good about!” exclaims the margarine’s website.
But let’s stop right here.
The fact is, just because something is “real” does not necessarily make it good for you.
The “real” ingredients that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is touting are oils and salt.
Oil | Nutrition Facts
For a nation, America, in which two-thirds of our population is overweight or obese, the last thing we need is more of the most calorie-dense food on the planet – oil.
Salt | Nutrition Facts
For a nation in which 1 in 3 adults has hypertension, the #1 risk factor for stroke, the last thing we need is more of the largest dietary contributor to hypertension – salt.
Oil and salt are real foods, to be sure. Real fattening. And real harmful to our already stiffening arteries.
I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter Nutrition Facts
For its Original Spread, the margarine’s marketers praise it for having “70% less saturated fat than butter.” That’s true, but each 1-tablespoon serving of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” still contains 2 grams of artery-damaging saturated fat.
Now, 2 grams of saturated fat may not sound like much, “but it is,” warns Registered Dieticians at Pritikin. “In terms of saturated fat, that 1 tablespoon of margarine is the equivalent of eating two-thirds of a fast food hamburger. For our hearts, we’d never think that eating a hamburger is a good idea. We should feel the same way about foods, like margarines, that contain saturated fat – and nothing else in the way of ingredients that are truly good for us.”
Fish such as salmon, for example, has a little saturated fat, but it is also an excellent source of omega-3-fatty acids, which are very beneficial for cardiovascular health, and, as a result, largely negate any concerns about its small saturated fat content. Indeed, the Pritikin Eating Plan and many other healthy diet plans, like DASH, recommend that Americans eat more omega-3-rich fish.
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Are You Stopping At One Schmear?
Let’s get back to “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” Keep in mind that when we’re talking about its 2 grams of saturated fat, we’re talking about what’s in just 1 tablespoon of the margarine. One tablespoon is for many of us a schmear on half a bagel.
Be creative, as we teach our guests at Pritikin. For example, instead of margarine on your baked potato, try fresh salsa. Or nonfat, plain Greek yogurt spiced up with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
For a sandwich spread, enjoy no-salt-added mustards. Or a schmear of nonfat ricotta cheese, or your own healthy, homemade hummus, like one of the many Pritikin hummus recipes taught in cooking classes at the Pritikin health resort.
I think one of the most important things we educators do at Pritikin is teach people that there are many great possibilities beyond decades-old staples like margarine or butter. Our guests discover, often to their surprise and delight, an amazing new variety of foods and flavors that are not only delicious, they truly are foods we can feel good about.
So a Pritikin vacation isn’t about denying yourself things; it’s about discovering brand new pleasures in life, and pleasures, most importantly, that work for us, not against us.
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Edited by Kell Wynn