For many years, conventional wisdom preached that plain old butter was deleterious to health, but substituting both margarines and vegetable oils were better. But now, a more recent study has corrected and added clarification to this issue, showing the degree to which daily cooking oil intake can affect chronic diseases that include cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes. Heretofore, food-based evidence supporting the consumption of cooking oils in relation to total and cardiovascular mortality had remained largely absent. The new study prospectively evaluated the relations of cooking oils with death from both cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well as from other maladies.

The study encompassed 521,120 participants aged 50-71 years from the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study. Individual cooking oil/fat consumption was assessed by a validated food frequency questionnaires..

Overall, the study demonstrated that intakes of butter and margarine were associated with higher total mortality while intakes of canola oil and olive oil were related to lower total mortality. After adjustment for major risk factors, mortality for each 1-tablespoon/day increment were 1.08 for butter, 1.06 for margarine, 0.99 for corn oil, 0.98 for canola oil, and 0.96 for olive oil. Moreover, butter consumption was unexpectedly associated with an increase in cancer mortality. Substituting corn oil, canola oil, or olive oil for equal amounts of butter and margarine was related to lower all-cause mortality and mortality from specific causes that included CVD, diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.


  • During a 16-year follow-up, researchers identified increased mortality for individuals who consumed larger quantities of butter and margarine compared with individuals who consumed more canola oil and olive oil.
  • This study provided more nuanced data highlighting differences in various fats that matched other published literature. The takeaway from this study favored the choice of olive oil (the winner) over butter and margarines for better cardiovascular health and reduced cardiovascular mortality.

There findings support the long-held belief that shifting our intake from solid fats to non-hydrogenated vegetable oils (especially olive oil) enhanced cardiovascular health and longevity. Thus, for the past several years, the various restaurateurs that have been splashing down olive oil mixes together with dinner rolls have been far ahead of science!

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