Margarine could cause blood clots – expert warning

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blood clotting as a response to an injury is a crucial mechanism that can stop potentially dangerous bleeding. However, the gel-like clumps springing up without any good reason could spell serious trouble for your health. Worryingly, what you eat could be the very trigger for this process.

While blood clots aren’t all bad, not all clots are to be welcomed as some clumps can block your veins or arteries, spurring on life-threatening emergencies like heart attacks and strokes.

This means that it’s crucial to minimise the risk of developing dangerous clots like these, with your diet playing a part.

Although margarine might seem like a healthier option compared to butter, the popular spread could actually set off a process that leads to clotting, according to nutritionist Rory Batt from Marvin’s Den.

Whipped up from vegetable oil, margarine is characterised by its butter-like taste while packing smaller amount of saturated fats than butter.

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The main culprit found in margarine is its key ingredient – fat. Batt said: “The supercharged version of damaged fats are trans fats, which are formed from the process of hydrogenation.

“They are super inflammatory and can cause blood clots in some people from chronic exposure.

“[They] can over time drive the process of atherosclerosis (the hardening and obstruction of arteries) leading to blood clots.”

Eating margarine often can lay the groundwork for two key processes that can lead to obstructed arteries.

Batt said: “They can raise LDL (which in itself is not bad), but they also lead it to become oxidised LDL (oxLDL) which is a bad thing as this is the actual ‘bad’ cholesterol that leads to damaging of the artery walls and subsequent blockages of arteries.

“Most veg oils contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, too many of which can be pro-inflammatory. 

“Inflammation is one of the key drivers of atherosclerosis. It plays a role in all of the stages of its development, from when plaques initially start to form, to when they build up and start to obstruct the arteries.”

Take these two processes and you can find yourself with a recipe for hard arteries.

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Despite this, many people still think that margarine is butter’s healthier cousin. However, health experts like the Harvard Medical School have been challenging this view.

The health portal said: “The truth is, there never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. 

“Making the switch was a well-intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter, but it overlooked the dangers of trans fats.”

The university continues to explain that the high levels of trans fats pack “a double whammy for heart disease by raising levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering levels of HDL (good cholesterol)”, just like Batt suggested.

Fortunately, atherosclerosis – the “principal way that foods can lead to blood clots” – doesn’t occur without your body ringing alarm bells.

The nutritionist shared that the warning signs of this process include: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • General fatigue
  • Tenderness and pain in extremities like legs and arms chest pains
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor blood flow to the brain resulting in confusion.

The good news is that there are some alternatives to margarine, including olive oil and other vegetable oil–based spreads that contain “beneficial” mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the Harvard Medical School adds.

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