Wednesday, 15th July 2020

This Month's Magazine
Margarine vs Butter

Margarine vs Butter

I recently received an email “spreading” various rumours about margarine; apparently this has been going around since 2005.

So I decided to research and publish some facts to put the record straight.

Margarine was created in 1870 by Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés a French chemist who was required by Louis Napoleon to find a substitute for butter. It was not manufactured to fatten turkeys!

Both butter and margarine have the same amount of calories, but butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 in margarine. Whereas we know that saturated fat, such as in butter, increases the risk of heart disease, a Harvard study has shown that some margarines contain trans fat, which is worse than saturated fat.

With regards to nutritional values, it depends on what you are measuring. The advantage of butter is that it is a more natural product than margarine with more vitamin content. But butter is high in saturated fat, which is associated with increased heart attack risk. Saturated fats are the ones that are solid at room temperature and increase the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) as well as the “good” cholesterol (HDL). The disadvantage of true margarine is the trans fat level. The more solid a margarine is at room temperature, the more trans fat it contains, as much as 3 grams per tablespoon.


Margarine makers have responded to that by releasing tub or liquid products that have either reduced or eliminated trans fats. Watch for the labels. Heart doctors recommend butter over normal margarine but recommend trans fat free margarines over butter. It all gets very confusing. There are even margarine products now that say they actually lower Cholesterol.

It has not been proven or is fiction that margarine triples the risk of coronary heart disease or that it increases the risk of cancer fivefold, just as it is false that margarine is but 1 molecule away from being plastic. However it is true that: Trans fatty acids, as in margarine, decrease immune response. Several references to this were found, including an article by nutritionist Dr. Mary Enig who said that consuming trans fatty acids “Affects immune response by lowering efficiency of B cell response and increasing proliferation of T cells.” Trans fat decreases insulin response. Actually the trans fat can increase blood insulin levels, which increases the risk for diabetes.

Trans fat lowers quality of breast milk I didnÂ’t find any research on this but there are studies on how a motherÂ’s eating of trans fats affects the level of trans fats in her milk.

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