Love yourself. Love your heart.

By Kate Geller, Knight Cardiovascular Institute

This Valentine’s Day, try to take inspiration from all of the heart-shaped cards, chocolate boxes and balloons to show yourself some love, by focusing on your own heart health. Almost everyone has risk factors for heart disease, but thankfully, we can all practice prevention by exercising heart-healthy eating habits.

Margarine vs. Butter?

A question our experts often get from patients is around cooking with margarine or butter. According to Tina Kaufman, Ph.D., of the Heart Disease Prevention program at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, “neither one is optimal for heart health” for two important reasons:

  • Butter contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease
  • Many margarines, while containing mainly vegetable oils, also contain trans fat (partially hydrogenated fats). Trans fat, like saturated fat, increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

More important, says Kaufman, is that you read the label of margarines and stay away from “partially hydrogenated” or “trans fat.” Look for products such as Smart Heart and Promise Activ, fortified with plant stanols and sterols that can actually help decrease cholesterol levels.

For more ways to love your heart, attend one of our free Heart Month lectures or a free heart screening in your area.

2 responses to “Love yourself. Love your heart.

  1. I have heard that it is even more important to have, and maintain, high levels of HDL cholesterol, than it is to reduce overall levels of cholesterol. Maybe this isn’t true, or maybe it is more nuanced than that, but do you have any recommendations for actually raising HDL levels? Thanks

    1. Hi Tim. Great question. Of course, the answer depends upon each person’s specific health needs. If you’ll send us an email at we can connect you with our cardiology experts for a more helpful response.

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