Is Benecol Spread a Healthy Choice?

by Colin Carmichael

Got a real good question from a subscriber a few days ago.

Here it is:

Hi Colin- Is stuff like ‘benecol’ actually margarine. Cheers

And here's my response…
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Great question!

First off, it doesn’t really matter if Benecol falls into the category of other margarines or not.

What it comes down to is this:

Is Benecol actually healthy for you? Is it a better choice than regular butter?

If you look at the list of ingredients for Benecol, you'll notice it has both partially hydrogenated soybean oil and hydrogenated soybean oil.

Both are trans fats!

Now get this…

Legally, they can still label it as 0 trans fats because it has less than .5 grams per serving.

And just in case you think I’m making this stuff up, this is from their own website FAQ’s:

Do BENECOL® Spreads contain trans fatty acids?

The amount of trans fat contained in BENECOL® Light and Regular Spread is less than 0.5 grams per one tablespoon serving. The FDA allows products containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled 0 grams trans fat, since this is considered an insignificant amount.

If this product actually does anything for cholesterol, it’s because of the plant stanols.

But does it make sense to consume a product known to have trans fats just because it has plant stanols?

Why not take a high quality product with plant stanols and other good cholesterol-lowering ingredients … and eat butter instead?

That’s my two cents. ;-)

– Colin

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Even though I can't recommend Benecol…

Kudos to them for adding in plant stanols to their product. And for being so open and honest at their website about the inclusion of trans fats.

For more of my thoughts on this topic, you might want to see my article on butter versus margarine.


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