CANSA endorses Blossom Canola margarines

An analysis by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) of 40 margarines in South Africa has revealed that Blossom Canola and Blossom Canola Light, are the healthiest local margarines – due to a low to high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

The low saturated fat – less than 10% (less than 10 grams per 100 grams margarine) combined with the high omega-3 fatty acid content and low omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, as well as the less than 1% (one gram per 100 grams margarine) content of trans fats – resulted in CANSA endorsing the Blossom Canola margarine range with the CANSA ‘Smart Choice’ Seal of Recognition. Both margarines are manufactured by Epic Foods.

Dr Carl Albrecht, Head of Research for CANSA says that too much omega-6 fatty acid increases systemic inflammation that is the “breeding ground” of cancer cells. “It is generally accepted that omega-6 needs to be balanced against omega-3 fatty acids in order to counteract inflammation optimally.” He adds that 28 out of the 40 margarines investigated contained less than one gram of omega-3 fatty acid per 100 grams of margarine.

Albrecht further says that Blossom Canola and Blossom Canola Light margarines have the highest concentration of Canola oil in South Africa: ““This is the main reason why these brands have achieved CANSA’’s ‘Smart Choice’ accolade”.”  [Read the news release “CANSA rejects Canola Oil chain email”]

Altaf Hassam, Director of Epic Foods, says the company is delighted with the outcomes of CANSA’’s research and analysis of margarines in South Africa: ““We welcome the ‘Smart Choice’ endorsement from CANSA and I have no doubt that consumers in South Africa will also respond positively to the now scientifically-proven health related benefits attributed to Blossom Canola and Blossom Canola Light”.”

The research conducted by CANSA was triggered when Wikipedia stated that some margarines can contain up to 15% trans fats. As trans fats have been linked to breast and prostate cancers in international literature, CANSA decided to investigate this statement by analysing margarines available in South Africa.

A total of 40 margarines available in South Africa were purchased from commercial outlets and submitted to the CSIR for fatty acid analyses. It was found that all of the margarines were below 2% trans fats (2 grams trans fats per 100 grams margarine).

According to Albrecht this is really good news because it means that margarines in general do not pose a trans fat health threat, as is often the case in other countries where hydrogenated oil, especially soya oil, is used.

““CANSA believes that prevention is the best cure of cancer and that the real war on cancer is to neutralise the causes and strengthen the defences,”” says Albrecht.

More about CANSA’s research

The Department of Health’s Food Safety Division, have published the intention to ban food products in South Africa with more than 2 % trans fats in the Government Gazette of 30 March 2010.

As far as the ideal composition of margarines is concerned, in terms of fatty acids, CANSA supports the following formula where all percentages are grams per 100 grams margarine:

  • Trans fats below 2%
  • Omega-3 fatty acid – higher than 4%
  • Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.0 or less

Margarines differ considerably in terms of saturated fat contents – the harder the margarine, the higher the concentration of saturated fat.

Saturated fat is not essential to the body and should be taken in moderation. It is known to promote systemic inflammation and is associated with many diseases. Margarines also vary considerably in terms of essential fats such as omega-3 and omega-6. Most margarines have a high omega-6 and little omega-3 content. South Africans in general are omega-3 deficient because they eat little food containing omega-3. An exception is Canola oil which contains 10-12% omega-3.

CANSA also sees margarine as a very convenient carrier of natural substances that could help to reduce the risk of cancer such as vitamins B and D and curcumin (turmeric) which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Click here to see the list of margarines tested and the results obtained.