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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2001 Oct;11(5):320-6.

Serum cholesterol response to replacing butter with a new trans-free margarine in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

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Lipid Clinic, Medical Department A, National Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


Margarine leads to lower total and LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels than butter but may contain trans fatty acids that increase atherogenic lipids. A food company has used data concerning the cholesterolemic effects of individual fatty acids, including trans fatty acids, to develop a commercially available and virtually trans-free margarine.


The effect of this novel margarine on serum lipids and lipoproteins was compared with that of butter in free-living, hypercholesterolemic subjects.


A two-period, outpatient cross-over trial at a university hospital lipid clinic.


The study involved 77 subjects, and was completed by 53 men and 19 women aged 35-65 years with total serum cholesterol levels of between 6.0 and 7.9 mmol/L.


Two 23-day regimens, separated by a 4-week washout period, included individualised dietary prescriptions supplemented with butter or margarine designed to provide 15% of total dietary energy.


In comparison with butter, margarine intake lowered total and LDL-C levels by respectively 11.1% (99% CI: 8.1-14.1) and 11.3% (99% CI: 7.6-15.1). The reduction in LDL-C was < 3% in nearly one-fifth of the subjects despite appropriate changes in serum triglyceride fatty acids. Of the tested clinical and demographic variables, only the percentage of energy obtained from saturated fat during the margarine intake period was associated with dietary responsiveness (explaining 12% of the variation; p < 0.01).


Our results suggest that a margarine designed to meet nutritional recommendations for hypercholesterolemia is more efficacious than butter in reducing atherogenic lipid levels in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

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