GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Butter and margarine are both popular spreads, but, what is the difference between the two? Also, which one is healthier?

We spoke with a dietician who breaks it down, in this week’s “Ask the Expert”.

Butter and margarine– they have different origins, ingredients, and effects on your health.

“Butter and margarine both contain about the same amount of fat… it’s just the types of fat that are different.”

Brianna Grande, Registered Dietitian, Bon Secours St. Francis

Brianna Grande, a registered dietitian, says butter, which is made from cow’s milk, is usually higher in saturated fat.

She says, “That is a type of fat that we want to limit in our diet because it is associated with increased risk of heart disease.”

Grande says margarine is not an animal product and has less saturated fat.

“Margarine is made from vegetable oils, which are higher in the unsaturated, or what we call like a harder, heart-healthy fat,” Grande said.

It’s important to limit saturated fats in your diet, according to Grande, and using margarine instead of butter could help you do this.

“I would say if you have preexisting heart disease or heart conditions, the recommendation for saturated fat is lower. So, you really need to watch that. Even having a tablespoon of butter gives you about seven grams of saturated fat and we want to limit that to between like 10 and 15 grams a day.”

Brianna Grande, Registered Dietitian, Bon Secours St. Francis

Grande says a downside to margarine is that it is heavily processed, so a better option than margarine, or butter, would be to use olive oil or avocado oil when cooking or reach for a plant-based butter.

She says, “Those are high in both the mono and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart healthy fats. Those can actually have an association with the decreased risk of heart disease and can potentially help lower cholesterol”.

Grande says too much butter in your diet, over time, can contribute to a build-up of cholesterol and plaque in your arteries, which could eventually lead to heart disease.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.