For years, margarine has been marketed as healthier than butter given that butter is notoriously high in saturated fats. However, margarine has a dark side.
Margarine is made with chemical additives that can be unhealthy and it can also have some saturated fat and trans fatty acids. Excess omega-6 fatty acids found in margarine can contribute to an increased risk of cancer, arthritis, heart disease and depression.
So, which is really better - butter or margarine?
Based on a number of studies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suggested margarine may be slightly better than butter for those that have high cholesterol.
However, these studies have also found that high trans fat margarine has no real benefit over butter.
Some experts argue that butter is better for the following reasons:
Butter contains healthy natural compounds like lecithin that help the body break down cholesterol.
Butter is a rich source of vitamin A.
Butter is a good source of vitamin E and selenium. Both are known antioxidants.
Butter is one of the few natural foods available that contain linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that has cancer-fighting and fat-burning properties.
Making butter a healthier option:
The key factor when eating healthy is moderation. When used in moderation, butter can be a safe and healthy option.
There are also ways of creating a "better butter" at home. The video above shows a great example of how you can use other healthy fats to create a natural "better butter" spread.
Recommended additional reading:
- Know your Fats; Mary Enig
- Healthy Fats for Life; Lorna Vanderhaeghe and Karlene Karst