Which is healthier – butter or margarine?
I love butter. If it was sociably acceptable I’d happily sit and eat a tub of Lurpack ‘slightly salted’ with a spoon…as long as it fits within my macro count for the day, obviously.
Recently, someone suggested I use margarine to cook my eggs because it’s ‘a healthy alternative to butter’. After I threw my perfectly scrambled eggs at them, I calmly explained why I use butter over margarine, and why you probably should too.
Butter has been made for thousands of years using churned cows milk. Milk is packed full of nutrients such as Vitamin K (proven to aid in disease prevention), CLA (a fatty acid shown to have anti-cancer properties) and omega 3 fatty acids (improved heart health, improved cholesterol profile). Cows are at their happiest when they’re chomping on some grass, and the happier the cow, the more nutritious (and delicious) the milk. So where possible buy ‘grass fed cow’ products.
Margarine was invented in the 50’s when we wrongly thought saturated fats were bad, so food companies clamoured to create ‘heart healthy’ products low on saturated fats.
Margarine is usually made of vegetable oil. At room temperature vegetable oils are a liquid meaning something has to be added to make it a solid, and therefore a suitable spread. The vegetable oil is subjected to a process called ‘hydrogenation’ which is essentially high heat, high pressure, a blast of hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst.
This gives it a super-long shelf life, that sexy yellow colour and leaves it pretty much devoid of any nutritional value. No happy cows here then.
Many of your favourite ‘heart healthy’ margarines were (some still are) loaded with industrially made trans-fats which are strongly associated with heart disease, and were recently banned by the FDA in America. Oh the irony.
While margarine may have a slightly lower calorie content, butter provides a lot of nutritional value.
Do the right thing – make the cows happy and buy grass-fed-butter.