Makes For Healthier Meals
today's margarine case full of more varieties than a typical
ice cream parlor -- regular, low-fat, squeeze, tub, 60 percent
oil, etc., what will work best in a recipe calling for margarine
or a favorite recipe ripe for conversion?
have changed due to consumer demand and recommendations from
health professional organizations such as the American Dietetic
Association, the American Heart Association and the U.S. Surgeon
General that the American public reduce intake of total fat,
saturated fat and cholesterol. In fact, the average fat content
of margarine products has been reduced by 30 percent -- from
80 percent in 1980 to about 56 percent today.
products are used primarily for spreading on various breads
(65%) and as a topping on a variety of foods (10%). However,
25 percent are used by consumers for cooking and baking. When
cooking or baking with margarine products, consumers should
understand that product oil levels vary and can often affect
recipe results. To select the right margarine product for
various uses, it is important to understand the differences
between them. The following descriptions should help.
no other descriptors in the name (such as "light")
must meet government guidelines ("standard of identity")
for minimum fat content (80%). The same is true for butter.
Unlike the products mentioned below, the percentage of oil
is not found on margarine or butter packages because the standard
of identity does not require it (similar to whole milk which
does not show the percentage of fat on the container). One
can tell if the product is regular margarine by checking the
Nutrition Facts: a one tablespoon serving will have 100 calories.
that contain less than the 80 percent oil mandated by the
government for margarine. The front of the package will often
state the percentage of oil in the product (e.g., 70% vegetable
result of recently implemented nutrition labeling regulations,
. Tthese products can be called "margarine", but
this identification must be preceded by one of the Food and
Drug Administration's approved nutrient content claims. To
qualify, the product must meet certain criteria:
or reduced-calorie/diet margarine -- will contain no more
than 60 percent oil (25% reduction in fat and calories)
fat margarine -- will contain no more than 40 percent oil
(50% or more reduction in fat)
margarine -- virtually fat-free, will contain less than
1/2 gram of fat per serving
Margarine in Recipes
following guidelines should be helpful when selecting a margarine
product for use in a favorite recipe. Keep in mind, however,
that many recipes now available (especially on product packages)
are designed for use with these lower oil margarines.
60 percent or more oil products can be used almost anywhere
butter or margarine is specified. However, low-fat spreads
or light margarinesvegetable oil spreads and modified margarines
(e.g., reduced-fat, light) should not be used for baked
goods that require precise amounts of fat and moisture,
such as pastry crusts and spritz cookies (unless a recipe
has been developed specifically for a particular margarine
percent oil products also work well for most cooking, such
as the preparation of side dishes and sautéing, in
addition to topping and spreading.
percent or less oil products should be used only for spreading,
topping and adding flavor to recipes that already contain
a significant amount of moisture (e.g., macaroni stuffing
mixes, pasta dishes). and cheese). They are not designed
for baking and frying.
in mind this There is one "rule of thumb" to keep
in mind when selecting a margarine for cooking or baking:
higher the oil content, the more fat there is in the product.
While fat does add calories, it contributes texture and browning
properties to foods.
lower the oil content, the less fat there is in the product.
This is critical to know when sautéing or baking, since
products with the lower amount of fat do not perform in the
same way as regular margarine.