Is it better to Eat Butter vs. Margarine?
In the age-old battle of butter vs. margarine, which is better for you?
It can certainly be confusing when you are trying to follow a healthy diet.
Let's begin with a look at both. In this corner…
Butter – a culinary essential, comes from the cream that rises to the top of fresh milk. Churning causes a chemical reaction that allows the cream to firm. For over 6000 years around the world, butter has been a rich staple, part of "good living". 21 pounds of cow's milk are required to make a pound of butter.
Butter is a source of the fat-soluble vitamins D, E and K. While many people have sensitive stomachs when it comes to cow's milk dairy products, very often butter is well-tolerated. Because butter does not contain many of the allergens found in other milk products. It does not contain milk protein or milk sugar, known as lactose. These are two highly allergenic components of some dairy products. Also, butter does not contain trans-fatty acids or even toxic metals that may be present in margarine.
And it this corner…
Back in 1869, Louis Napoleon III of France offered a reward for a suitable substitute for butter which could be used by the armed forces and those less well-to-do. A chemist named Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès created what he called oleomargarine. He patented the idea and expanded his initial operation disappointing commercial success. In 1871, he sold the patent to Jurgens, a Dutch company.
Margarines can be produced from an assortment of animal or vegetable fats, and then blended with skimmed milk, salt, and various emulsifiers. As with butter, margarine is about 80% fat, 20% water and solids. Margarine is also flavored, colored, and fortified with vitamin A, and sometimes D, to match butter's level of those vitamins.
Butter and margarine both get bad press. The problem with butter is that it contains two cholesterol-raising factors, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products, so a plant-based food product such as margarine will not have any. Some people are more affected by cholesterol in their diet than others, so certain people can eat a diet higher in cholesterol without their blood cholesterol levels soaring, while others can eat little dietary cholesterol and their cholesterol levels will still be high. Generally, it is recommended that a health person take in a maximum of 200 milligrams cholesterol per day.
High cholesterol is a risk to your health because fatty deposits eventually constrict your arteries. This causes a decrease in blood flow to the brain, heart, kidneys and other parts of the body. Cholesterol is not an essential part of your in the diet. About 1 gram of cholesterol is produced in the liver each day, or 80% of what your body needs. The other 20% comes directly from your food.
Cholesterol is the base material for the stress hormones in your adrenal glands, as well as the sex hormones. Your body can react to stress by producing more cholesterol, which allows your body to produce more stress-fighting hormones. Also, eating some animal products often helps balance your body's chemistry. In these instances, cholesterol levels or the cholesterol/HDL ratio improves, although the diet contains cholesterol-containing foods.
Butter's biggest issue is the content of saturated fat. Saturated fats are found in red meat, high-fat dairy products, and coconut and palm oils. When eaten excessively, saturated fats will increase the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) as well as the "good" cholesterol (HDL). Although saturated fats raise good cholesterol, it's not enough to outweigh the other factors. Saturated fat intakes are associated with increases in heart-disease risk.
Margarine is no angel when it comes to artery-clogging fat. A primary concern of margarine is its level of trans fat, which is a man-made fat. Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils, making the oil more butter-like in texture and less prone to spoilage. This is known as hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation and allows a of stick margarine to be firm at room temperature. Trans fats have been shown to increase the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) similarly to saturated fats, and they tend to lower the "healthy" (HDL) cholesterol when eaten in large quantities.
Armed with some knowledge, you can reduce the amount of trans fat you take in. The more solid a margarine is at room temperature, the more trans fat it contains. Tub or liquid margarine can contain almost 2/3 less trans fat. Margarine manufacturers are now cutting their trans fat levels even further, to less than 0.5 grams per serving.
Also, instead of hydrogenating liquid vegetable oil, they now add a tiny amount of modified palm and palm kernel oil to enhance the spreadability of margarine, creating a soft margarine that's trans fatty acid free.
Your choice of butter vs. margarine may hinge on your personal metabolism, and current health status. See your doctor for what will be best for you.
The good news is that adults can take steps to improve cardiovascular health, including eating a proper diet, exercising, controlling their cholesterol levels.
An excellent cholesterol supplement that include many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!