Flavoured table spreads - a tastier and healthier alternative to butter

Urban India has been facing a serious conundrum for a long time now. Short deadlines, long haul flights, late nights, early mornings, frequent eating out and rare balanced diets are all taking a toll on the health aspirations of today's jet-setters. For most people, lack of time seems to be the biggest defence against eating healthy and exercising. However, unless one stops making busy schedules an excuse for poor health, they should be ready to face an onslaught of lifestyle diseases.

A startling report by the National Family HealthSurvey recently revealed that the number of obese people in India have doubledin the past decade. It also stated that a large number of the urban populationwas found have high Body Mass Index (BMI). Higher the BMI, greater is aperson's risk for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Cardiovascular diseases are alsowitnessing an alarming rise in the country, especially among the youngpopulation. Unhealthy lifestyle compounded by high stress levels and poor dietshave all contributed to this declining physical fitness. A survey by healthcareplatform Practo showed a growth of 40 per cent in cardiologist appointmentswith hypertension as the most common symptom. Most of these appointments werebooked by people in the age group of 25 to 35 years. 

These studies are evidence of what the demandingschedules of modern lives are doing to our health. It is time to make a changeand contrary to popular beliefs, a healthier lifestyle isn't that hard toachieve. 

Ms Wanitha Ashok, Fitness Expert, Bengaluru said, “Eatinghealthy can be pulled off simply by switching the basic food items on yourdinner table with healthier versions of the same. Start by swapping a meal timestaple like butter with a healthier table spread, which is a much morewholesome option. Such table spreads contain 0% cholesterol, zero saturated andtrans-fats but are high in healthy fats. They lower Low Density Lipoprotein(LDL) which is bad cholesterol and raise High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) whichis good cholesterol.” 

Every health expert in the world will recommendreducing the intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replacing them withdaily doses of good fats which are broadly categorised into two kinds—monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).Table spreads comprise generous quantities of both. The benefits of MUFA werefirst discovered in the 1960s. A study showed that people from theMediterranean region like Greece had low rate of heart diseases even thoughthey consumed a high-fat diet. It was found that the main source of fat intheir diet was not from animal produce, which was common in countries with highrisk of heart rates, but from olive oil, a repository of MUFA. 

Similarly, PUFA is also a key nutrient in anindividual’s diet and is also known as essential fats. Consuming the rightamount of PUFA can help reduce LDL or bad cholesterol and help build cellmembranes. Cholesterol is terrible news for your health causing cloggedarteries which can lead to a few vulnerable diseases. The essential fat is alsorequired for several bodily functions including muscle movements and bloodclotting. 

PUFA, a key nutritional benefit provided by tablespreads, is also known to be packed with omega-3 fatty acids. This is a boonfor any human heart. Some of the ways omega-3 helps the heart is by reducingtriglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, decelerating the spread of plaque inthe arteries, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of irregularheartbeat. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to be important for cognitivefunctions, reducing excess fat from liver along with mitigating chances ofcancer and arthritis as well as depression and anxiety. 

“Since our body does not produce essential fattyacids on its own, it is a crucial nutrient to be obtained from food. Usuallyabout 25 to 35 per cent of our total calories in a day should be derived fromfat and most of these should come from healthy fats”, added MsWanitha Ashok, Fitness Expert, Bengaluru.

Table spreads are also rich in Vitamin A, D and E.Each of these vitamins contribute to our health in their own specific ways.Vitamin A is vital in regulating the growth and division of body cells, bonegrowth and keeping the immune system in good shape. There are 11 members ofVitamin B complex which help in enhancing memory and mood and is important formetabolism. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, protects cell membranes from damage andimproves the immune system. 

While it has several health benefits over traditionalbutter, table spreads do not compromise on taste in any way. Moreover, thesedays, there are more than one flavour of spreads available in the market,ensuring that meals are anything but monotonous. There are plenty of quickrecipes that can be prepared with table spreads. Look them up because a littleknowledge and restructuring is all it takes to tuck in a healthy diet in youractive everyday schedule. 

With cases of chronic diseases on a rapid rise amongurban Indian population, making healthier food choices should be a toppriority. Regardless of what your lifestyle is, a wholesome diet shouldn't fallby the wayside. Even by making a small but smarter choice in opting for tablespreads over butter, you’re taking a big leap towards a healthy life in thelong run.

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