Reduce Added Solid Fats - Butter, Margarine, Lard and Shortening

Families, Food and Fitness April 18, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Authors: Marcel Horowitz, MS, CHES, Christie Hedrick, BS, Angela Asch, BS, Sonia Fernandez, BS, & Katie Churchill, BS, University of California Cooperative Extension, Yolo County


photo of stick butter

Fats contribute flavor and tenderness to your pasta, Mexican, and other dishes, but excessive consumption could be detrimental to your health. Dietary fats are found in both animal and plant food sources. Saturated fat is often found in animal food products and trans-fat is often found in plant sources that have been hydrogenated to extend product shelf life.

Butter, lard, margarine, and shortening are considered 'solid fats', which are solid at room temperature and therefore contain a higher percentage of saturated or trans fats. These types of solid fats contribute to "bad" cholesterol levels. Oils containing unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and promote "good" cholesterol levels.

Shrinking! Always check the Nutrition Facts label for grams of saturated fat and trans fat. Select a product with the lowest combined amount. It is important that we use our favorite solid fat cooking ingredients sparingly.

Substituting! If you do not like the taste of margarine, or do not wish to give up butter completely, consider using a light butter instead.

Sneaking-In! Select a product with a blend of butter and olive or canola oil. Typically, per serving, these products have less fat and calories than regular butter.

Swap! Replace the solid fat used in cooking with oil. This will provide the "good fat" you need.

Instead of... Try...
Butter (Animal fat - from milk) Margarine (Plant fat) Olive or canola oil when sauteing, applesauce or pureed prunes when baking, no trans-fat margarine when you are spreading
Lard (Animal fat - from pork) Shortening (Plant fat) Vegetable oil when frying, applesauce or pureed prunes when baking


Return to The Top Foods to Swap, Substitute, Shrink, or Sneak-in to Reduce Added Sugars and Solid Fats in Your Diet.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.