Butter or Margarine: How to Choose Best for Your Health

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What is healthier for you butter or margarine? Let’s find out…

Are you confused in the butter aisle? There’s good reason for the confusion. When considering the question which is better for you butter or margarine, we have to factor in the type of fats present in butter and margarine.

To put it in a nutshell, Margarine consists of vegetable oils, whereas butter consists of animal fat. This means that butter contains saturated fats, whereas margarine contains unsaturated fats or good fats that are helpful in reducing cholesterol.

However, it’s not so simple and there are other factors to be considered.

Must Read: 15 Best Foods for Kidney Repair: Healthy Kidney Tips

Let’s Check Out Which One is Better For Your Health, Butter or Margarine?

Margarine vs. Butter

  • Butter is made from milk or cream and is used as a spread, in baking and for other cooking purposes.
  • On the other hand, margarine is made from vegetable or plant oils, like soybean oil or canola oil.

Trans Fats vs Saturated Fats

There are different types of fats and not all fats are bad for health. In fact, some fats are essential for bodily functions. For instance, some of the vitamins need fats before they can be used by your body.

  • Butter contains saturated fats coming from animal sources.
  • Saturated fat increases cholesterol levels in the blood and LDL or bad cholesterol, which could cause cardiovascular problems.
  • Butter contains saturated fats, whereas there are no saturated fats in margarine.
  • However, Stick Margarine contains Trans fats that come from vegetable oil and are partially hydrogenated, which can also increase LDL levels and lower HDL or good cholesterol levels, thereby increasing risk of cardiovascular problems.

Fats that contain a lot of saturated fat or trans fats are solid at room temperature, like butter and stick margarine.

Types of Margarine

What’s margarine? The main difference between butter and margarine is the kind of fats that they contain. Margarine mainly consists of vegetable oil combined with water and salt as well as emulsifiers. There are many forms of margarine. It is found in the form of sticks, tubs and sprays. Margarine was first developed when butter became scarce.

Generally, margarine is considered a better alternative. This is because margarine is plant based or vegetable based. It contains 80% of oil. It therefore lacks saturated fat or cholesterol that is present in butter. Yet, not all margarine’s are the same. Some margarine’s consist of trans fats, which need to be avoided.

  • Avoid margarine sticks, as they contain trans fats or saturated fats, or even both.
  • Buy margarine soft spreads or whipped spreads, as they have less amounts of saturated fats than butter, and might also be totally free of margarine trans fats. These spreads can be considered as cholesterol lowering margarine.

butter vs margarine

Recommendations for Margarine/Butter

  • Avoid eating trans fats, like those found in stick margarine.
  • Keep saturated fats ( from butter) to about 10% of your total calorie intake per day.
  • Use monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats.

Tip 1: According to the American Heart Association, pick a margarine containing zero trans fats with 2 grams or less of saturated fat in a tablespoon.

Tip 2: Add the saturated fats along with the trans fats and see whether the total is less than 1.5 grams. More amounts of trans fats can clog up the arteries.

Selecting Butter/Margarine

  • While selecting margarine or butter, check out the ingredients.
  • Buy a spread that has zero levels of trans fats. For instance, even if it says ‘some trans fat’, avoid it.
  • Buy a spread, butter or margarine, which has the least saturated fat.

what is healthier butter or margarine

Benefits of Butter and Margarine

Is butter a villain then? Well, not exactly! Butter has plenty of benefits, taken in the right amounts.

  • Butter contains Vitamin A, D, E and K. It also contains manganese, iodine, copper and zinc among others.
  • It is a powerful antioxidant and has anti cancer capabilities. It improves cardiovascular health and contains HDL cholesterol.
  • It is good for thyroid conditions, for the eyes, the bones and for preventing arthritis.
  • Butter tastes better than margarine and is more suitable for baking.
  • However, stick margarine contains trans fats.

Opt for tub margarine or liquid margarine. It has less trans fats compared to stick margarine. Liquid margarine also contains plant sterols that can reduce cholesterol levels. Spray margarines also contain less fat content and high amount of water content.

The Better Butter

So, margarine seems like the better option, especially the tub or spread margarine. However, butter is not all bad. If you must have butter, stick to the whipped butter and ditch the Stick butter.

  • Stick butter is denser and contains more amounts of saturated fats
  • Whipped butter is lighter and contains air due to the whipping process. It contains less saturated fats than stick butter
  • Organic whipped butter is even better!

Tip: Opt for raw, organic butter instead of pasteurized butter, or even make butter at home.

What’s Better Butter or Margarine? And the Debate Goes On!

The debate on butter vs margarine is a rather slippery slope.

  • Butter contains saturated fats, whereas margarine does not, but stick margarine contains trans fats.
  • But butter is a natural food, especially organic butter. Margarine is a processed food using the process of hydrogenation. Some studies say that such processed polyunsaturated oils can be more damaging to health than saturated fats.
butter vs margarine debate
Image: flaviliciousfitness.com

Also See: Organic vs Non-Organic Food: All You Must Know

Wrapping it up

  • What is healthier butter or margarine? Use both butter and margarine in your diet. It is a combination of fats with healthy oils.
  • The two can work together as a team offering you health and longevity.
  • If you must choose, tub or liquid margarine is a better choice than butter.

Tip: Check out the trans fat content of margarine before buying.

  • Apart from eating butter or margarine, it would be better to use spreads with fiber, such as hummus, avocado or olive oil as a healthy alternative. Your heart will surely thank you all the more for your choice!!!
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