Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Is New Improved Margarine Good for You?

What do you think about Smart Balance margarine which claims it has no trans-fatty acids? Is it healthier?

Answer (Published 4/3/2002)

Updated 4/01/2005

The manufacturer of Smart Balance margarine claims its product contains no hydrogenated oil and no trans-fatty acids and therefore should lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol - just the opposite effect of spreads that contain both of these forms of fat.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

This is supposed to happen if you limit your intake of dietary fat to 30 percent of daily calories and keep your consumption of dietary cholesterol to under 300 mg per day. In other words, if the fat in your diet is the same blend of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as in Smart Balance.

The patented blend of oils in Smart Balance may, indeed, live up to the manufacturers' claims if the dietary fats in your diet really do mirror the mix of fats the margarine provides, but managing this on a daily basis isn't as simple as it may seem. If you have cholesterol problems, I recommend limiting your consumption of trans-fatty acids and increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish. Minimize your consumption of refined carbohydrates, eat more oat bran and other foods containing soluble fiber as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, soy foods and other legumes. Drink green tea regularly and eat garlic, hot red pepper (chile) and shiitake mushrooms frequently.

While Smart Balance may be better than most margarine - if you adhere to the specified "balance" of fats in the rest of your diet - my views about margarine remain unchanged. It is still fat, mostly unhealthy fat, and a highly processed food. The less processed food you eat, the better. If your bread requires a spread, consider switching to some delicious, fresh bread that needs no help from added fat. Or try a little seasoned, mashed avocado or a light dribble of olive oil. Create low-fat toppings for your potatoes and other vegetables. And when you crave a bit of butter, use the real thing.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here