Butter vs Margarine: the age old argument….

November 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Nutrition Tips

Still battling with the age old argument: Butter vs Margarine?

Believe it or not, the jury is NOT out on this topic.  Historically, margarine over took butter as the #1 choice for health because it was made with unsaturated oils which as we all know is the best choice for our heart health (think olive oil – or any oil that is fluid at room temperature).  And then…butter (which is made up of primarily saturated fat) was back in the spot light because science caught up with the fact that the original margarine, true, was made with unsaturated oil, but that unsaturated oil (remember fluid at room temperature) was turned into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation.  Hydrogenated fat is TRANS FAT!  Which we now know is devastating for your heart health; literally 20x worse for your heart than saturated fat according to a literature review completed on the topic by the American Heart Association.  Trans fat not only increases your bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol which is the ‘fat bus’ that deposits cholesterol throughout our bodies and eventually to our hearts) but also decreases your good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol which is the ‘fat bus’ that carries cholesterol back to our liver to be disposed of).  That’s even worse than the saturated fat found in butter because saturated fat only increases your bad cholesterol but doesn’t affect your good cholesterol!

So at this point, the world is back on to butter as the healthy, ‘natural’ choice for spreadable fats in this debate.  BUT, now that the science has caught up, margarines now-a-days are actually made with non-hydrogenated oils and therefore are a whole lot better for your heart than butter ever was.  The unsaturated fats found in today’s margarine have actually been shown in hundreds of studies to impact your cholesterol levels favorably.  So the jury has spoken: margarine made from NON-HYDROGENATED oil is the way to go. You can also buy ‘light’ margarine which usually contains about ½ the calories as regular margarine; this will save you big time when you’re trying to lose weight!  So, give margarine a chance again – your heart will thank you!

Buyer beware: margarine’s can still be purchased that are made with hydrogenated fat (think Parkay) so always be sure to check the label before buying a margarine and choose one (like Becel) that states ‘non-hydrogenated’ on the package.