Calorie-reduced margarines with plants sterols: Do they taste any good?

This is a relatively new product out in the margarine market – Becel pro-activ. It’s a calorie-reduced margarine with plant sterols. So for people who are really health conscious, why not take the margarine instead of butter replacement one step further to calorie-reduced margarine with added plant sterols?

The big question, however, is how does it taste? I had some test testers try out Becel pro-activ on crackers to see what they thought. Would they switch over from their usual butter/margarine for the added health benefit?

I had the test testers try the following:
Becel original
Becel pro-activ

Becel pro-activ has less than half the calories of Becel original (30 kcal vs. 70 kcal) with the addition of plant sterols for heart health. However, the tub is a lot smaller and more expensive than the other Becel varieties ($6.59/half a lb vs. $3.79/lb).

My theory:
I think that choosing a calorie-reduced margarine instead of butter or regular margarine is quite a big step. I think that the calorie reduced margarine will taste watery and bland and not worth eating on it’s own. However, I think that if you were to put it in a sandwich or on top of vegetables where other flavours are involved, then it might be acceptable.

Taste testers:becel_thumb
Please write down your comments in terms of flavour and taste. Which margarine you like more? Is it worth switching your regualr butter/margarine for?

The reveal:
Thank you everyone for your comments. Here are the results:
A: Becel pro-activ
B: Becel original

I must say – I was quite surprised and impressed with this product. Most people could not tell the difference between Becel Original and Becel pro-activ. (Inside tip: Becel original does spread a little thicker but only marginally). I was quite surprised that they tasted and felt so similar considering that Becel pro-activ has less than half the calories of Becel original (30 kcal vs. 70 kcal). So, from a test perspective it seems like using Becel pro-activ isn’t such a bad thing for the added health benefits.

However, Becel pro-activ is significantly more expensive than other Becels and it comes in a smaller container. If you were to do a gram per gram comparison, Becel pro-activ comes out to almost three and a half times more expensive as regular Becel margarine. Also, in order to have the recommended dose of plant sterols for heart health benefits (2.0g/day) you will need to consume 5 tsp of Becel pro-activ each day. Needless to say, a tub will not last long at that rate.

The bottom line:
People who want the health benefits from plant sterols might be better off choosing foods such as okra, legumes, nuts and seeds that have plant sterols and the added benefit of other nutrients and fibre versus paying so much for a margarine. However, if people don’t have a tendency to eat or enjoy these foods on a regular basis, Becel pro-activ might be a good option to get regular plant sterols in your diet or supplement the rest of your diet (if you can afford it). Keep in mind, that the health benefit of plant sterols is really targeted to people who need to watch their cholesterol levels.