Buyer Beware of Margarines? Curious Additions


Margarine with added calcium? Another that doubles as a dip? Two new products from Lipton Foods are being marketed as more than just plain spreads. Should you bite?

Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Plus Calcium contains 10% of the Daily Value for calcium (100 milligrams) per tablespoon. The government considers that a “good” source of calcium, but we question the wisdom of adding calcium to a product that, even as a reduced-fat spread (five grams of fat per tablespoon), is still 90% fat. If you already use regular Country Crock, switching to the new calcium-fortified version makes sense. But introducing it into your diet just for the calcium is a step in the wrong direction. Better calcium sources are low-fat dairy foods, canned sardines (with bones), Swiss chard, broccoli, kale, fortified orange juice and fortified soymilk.

Don’t let Brummel & Brown’s new Creamy Fruit Spreads mislead you either. Found in supermarkets alongside margarines and other spreads, they come in three very unmargarine-like flavors: Simple Strawberry, Awesome Apple and Cinnamon, and Blissfully Blueberry. Liquid and partially hydrogenated oils top the list of ingredients, followed by high fructose corn syrup, with a little yogurt and fruit.

With only four grams of fat per tablespoon, these spreads qualify as “reduced-fat.” But eat them “every way, every day” as toppings and dipping sauces as the ads suggest, and you?ll consume a lot more than one tablespoon. And don’t expect health benefits from the insignificant amounts of yogurt and fruit. Instead, try your own combination of low-fat yogurt topped with a dollop of 100% no-sugar added fruit spread?or better yet, fresh fruit like berries or sliced bananas.

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