There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet, TV commercials and even some magazines. The food industry likes to plant these ideas of “health foods” into our heads in order to sell their products, but in reality most of the time the products they’ve created are actually harmful to our bodies. There comes a time when we need to trust the cow over the chemist and comparing butter to margarine is one of those times.
Margarine is a man-made, highly processed product that uses vegetable oils, colorants, emulsifiers and a myriad of other artificial ingredients. Let’s focus on the vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is usually liquid at room temperature, so in order to get it into that nice spreadable soft margarine, we need to actually hydrogenate this oil. Hydrogenation also allows the product to have an extended shelf-life. But, when we hydrogenate this oil we are actually turning the fat from the oil into trans fat which our bodies don’t recognize! Also this involves exposing the oils to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst. YUCK!
Butter however is made by churning the fatty portion of cow’s milk until its butter. THAT’S IT! Now you may be saying, but I heard butter has a high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol which are bad for my heart health. Over the past few years there have been many studies that actually show no association between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease.
Eating saturated fats actually improves the blood lipid profile. It raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small, dense LDL (very bad) to large LDL, which is benign.
Lastly, butter actually offers us a lot of our fat soluble vitamins! These are vitamins A, E and a special one called K2. If we are eating a well balanced diet of plant and animal foods, you are probably getting enough vitamin A and E, but vitamin K2 is fairly rare in the modern diet and many people don’t know about it! Vitamin K2 is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with diseases such as CVD, cancer, and osteoporosis!
In summary, when looking for something to spread on your toast or use in your baking, opt for butter over margarine every time!
Olivia Harty – Nutritionist at Dynamic Health and Performance