National Survey Findings: Buttery Spreads Are the Toast of the Town

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"Buttery spreads," the new term for today's margarine products, are preferred by consumers interested in their heart health, according to a just-released national survey.

The term 'buttery spreads' depicts the new generation of margarine products. Buttery spreads are preferred by consumers interested in their heart health

Based on just-released findings from a national consumer survey, the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers has proclaimed that "there's a new spread in town."

In the national survey just completed by Kelton Research, 45 percent of consumers said the tablespread they use most often at mealtime is a buttery spread or soft margarine spread, compared to 24 percent who rated stick butter as their favorite.

The association explains: "Actually, margarine spreads are not new but keep getting better over time and are extremely popular among health-conscious grocery shoppers nationwide. Consumers use them on toast, muffins, pancakes, stove-top cooking, frying, baking and as a topping on vegetables. Today's margarine is a buttery spread, which is not your mother's margarine."

As the margarine product category has evolved and consumer preferences have expanded beyond traditional stick margarine, the term "margarine" has become outdated, according to industry experts. "Margarine" has gone the way of the "information superhighway" (now known as the Internet), "prune" (now "dried plum"), and "stewardess" (now "flight attendant"). And just as "fat-free milk" is a better descriptor than "skim milk," "buttery spreads" better defines today's margarine products.

"The term 'buttery spreads' depicts the new generation of margarine products. Buttery spreads are preferred by consumers interested in their heart health," explains Richard Cristol, president of the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM). NAMM is the industry's long-standing trade association, which was formed in 1936.

Buttery spreads are typically made with a blend of nutritious, natural plant oils like soybean, canola, and olive. Today's buttery spreads are much lower in total fat and saturated fat than the margarines of yesterday, have no cholesterol and are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats compared with animal fats, such as butter and lard.

The national survey also found that in terms of the most heart-healthy choice, consumers indicated strong awareness of the recommendations of health experts -- more than half (54%) recognize that buttery spreads and soft margarine spreads are the most heart-healthy choice, compared to 18 percent who thought stick butter is the more healthy option.

The risk of heart disease can be significantly reduced by adapting a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet which is low in total cholesterol and saturated fat. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines, American Heart Association and other major health organizations recommend that consumers choose soft margarine spreads instead of butter for heart health.

Choosing buttery spreads in place of butter can have a major impact. In fact, 10 scientific studies have directly evaluated the health benefits of soft margarine spreads versus butter, and all have confirmed that buttery spreads are the healthier choice. One groundbreaking study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that making the simple switch from butter to soft margarine spreads lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol by nine percent in children and eleven percent in adults.

This is not surprising, as the nutrition label on a typical buttery spread shows that it has no cholesterol, 0 grams of trans fat, and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. In contrast, butter has 7 grams saturated fat and 30 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. NAMM notes that using a buttery spread instead of butter over a week's time can cut an entire day's worth of saturated fat.

Popular brands include Promise, Country Crock, Imperial, Brummel & Brown, Smart Balance, Parkay, Fleischmann's, Blue Bonnet, Olivio, Saffola, Gold-n-Soft, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

For more information, including heart-healthy recipes, visit http://www.butteryspreads.org.

Note to Editors: The nationally representative survey of 1,000 adults was conducted by Kelton Research September 14-21, 2009 using an online methodology. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S population ages 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. The survey was commissioned by the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers.

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