Tip Tuesday: Butter or Margarine?

Butter and margarine

When you are given a choice between butter or margarine, what would be your preference? Well, first of all you should know what butter and margarine actually are.

Butter is made from animal fat (cow’s milk or cream). It contains at least 80% of milk fat. There are several types of butter on the shelf, which can generally be categorized into two, high in saturated fat (denoted by the terms such as “original”, “rich”, and “cultured”), and low in saturated fat (indicated by the words “whipped”, “light”, or “vegetable oil blend”). The intake of too much saturated fat has a negative impact on cardiovascular health.

On the other hand, margarine is made from vegetable oils. In the old days, the industry hydrogenated the oils to turn it into solid form. The hydrogenation process converts the unsaturated fatty acids in the oil into trans fatty acids. It is well-studied that trans fat acids have detrimental effect on health when regularly consumed.

Fortunately, there is a new method known as ‘inter-esterification’ to replace the conventional hydrogenation nowadays. Inter-esterification employs enzymes to do the work, which does not produce the harmful trans fatty acids. You can differentiate margarines by checking the ingredient list on the label. The combination of “no trans fatty acids” and “partially hydrogenated oil”, or the absence of the word “hydrogenated”, shows that the margarine is made by inter-esterification. Anyhow, the margarines sold in Finland contain very little to none of these trans fatty acids, here is the link to the official news release: http://www.evira.fi/portal//en/frontpage/frontpage+news/?bid=1824.

So how do you make a choice between butter and margarine? The former has a stronger aroma and made from a natural source, whereas the latter sounds healthier but is a processed food. It is strongly recommended to opt for the product with least saturated fat and zero trans fat.

 

The information provided here is served as a general guideline.

Nutritionist of The Froodly Team,

Wan Lih Ching

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Tip Tuesday: How do I Handle my Fruits Properly?

Fresh fruits

Fruits are essential in our diet. But how can you maintain their freshness for a few days longer?

During ripening, some fruits release ethylene (C2H2), which is a gas that accelerates the ripening process – i.e. change in colour and the development of characteristic flavour/taste. Examples of such fruits are avocados, bananas, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, pears and tomatoes. Ethylene is used commercially to ripen the fruits (and vegetables) postharvest. Therefore, if you wish to store your fruits and vegetables longer, you should store them separately. Otherwise, they will spoil prematurely and rapidly.

As you know, fruits are full of nutrients and contain high amount of water. It is a favourable environment for microbes to grow, so you should handle fruits with care because pinching or squeezing may bruise them. This will increase the likelihood of enzymatic browning or invasion of microbes and cause spoilage. In general, fruits with increased softness and unpleasant odour are the signs of enzymatic browning. Although enzymatic browning is not harmful to health, there is a risk of yeast spoilage too. You should probably throw them away when they turn too mushy and have a ‘grayish’ appearance.

As a conclusion, remember to store ethylene-producing fruits separately from other fruits and vegetables. Handle them with extra care and try not to keep them for too long because microbes may ‘eat’ them before you do!

 

The information provided here is served as a general guideline.

Nutritionist of The Froodly Team

Wan Lih Ching

Tip Tuesday: Hmm… is there mold on my bread?

Bread is so common everywhere in the world. It’s a versatile food, for example by applying spreads or jams, serving with cheese or salami, or even eat it as it is.

Oh no! The loaf of bread that I bought is ‘expiring’ tomorrow! Which one do you normally do?

– Finish them off as my lunch, tea break, dinner and supper.

– Eat it as usual the next day but worry about getting food poisoning.

– Throw it away because, yucks, there will be mold growing on it the next day!

– Put it in the refrigerator or freezer (it will become stale, dry and harder though).

As a matter of fact, if you do not place the bread near the sink, moisten the bread and leave it exposed, or place it at a warm and dark place, commercial bread can be safely eaten few days after the sell-by date showed on the tag (although it might get stale). This is because there are preservatives in it to prevent mold growth. Well, don’t be afraid to eat bread! The preservatives added in such small quantities so that are certainly harmless to our health, but with enough to suppress microbial growth.

On the other hand, if it smells sour or funky, and there are tiny greenish/ grayish/ blackish/ whitish spots on the surface like this:

moldy bread

it may be fine when accidentally ingested (oops!) a small amount of mold, but certain types of mold can cause food poisoning. So you should definitely wrap the bread up (to avoid spreading of mold spores to the surrounding) and throw it away.

The information provided here is served as a general guideline.

Nutritionist of The Froodly Team,

Wan Lih Ching