Effect on lipoprotein profile of replacing butter with margarine in a low fat diet: randomised crossover study with hypercholesterolaemic subjects

BMJ. 1996 Apr 13;312(7036):931-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.312.7036.931.


Objective: To examine the effect on lipid and lipoprotein concentrations when butter or an unsaturated margarine is used for cooking or spreading in a reduced fat diet.

Design: Randomised crossover study with two intervention periods of six weeks' duration separated by a five week washout.

Setting: Community setting in New Zealand.

Subjects: 49 volunteers with polygenic hypercholesterolaemia and baseline total cholesterol concentration in the range 5.5-7.9 mmol/l.

Main outcome measures: Concentrations of total and low density lipoprotein, Lp(a) lipoprotein, high density lipoprotein, apolipoprotein B 100, and apolipoprotein A I.

Results: Concentrations of low density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B were about 10% lower with margarine than with butter. Lp(a) lipoprotein and high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were similar with the two diets.

Conclusion: Despite concerns about adverse effects on lipoproteins of trans fatty acids in margarines, the use of unsaturated margarine rather than butter by hypercholesterolaemic people is associated with a lipoprotein profile that would be expected to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Butter* / analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Margarine* / analysis


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Butter
  • Margarine