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Margarine: Better Than Butter?

It used to be easy: Margarine topped butter because it's lower in saturated fat. But now we know that margarine contains heart-clogging trans fats (worse than saturated), so should you pick butter? Or ditch both for one of the other varieties of spreads you see at the grocery store?

A little butter won't hurt, but stick to margarine or other vegetable oil-based spreads for everyday use on toast or waffles, says Debra Wein, a dietitian and president of Sensiblenutrition.com. Many are now made with no trans fats. Look for:

? Fewer than 10 grams of total fat per one-tablespoon serving, less than a third of which are from saturated fats, and no trans fats

? Margarines or spreads in tubs, which have more air whipped into them than the stick kind, reducing fat and calories

? Brands such as Benecol and Take Control that have plant sterols, which may lower heart-harming LDL cholesterol (But note: They're about twice the price of other spreads.)

When cooking, use vegetable oils. You could use stick margarines or spreads when baking, but butter does taste better.

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