Butter Vs. Margarine: Which one is better and why?

Butter VS Margarine: Right from their preparation to nutritional profile, read on to know the difference between the two and to know which is healthier.
Butter Vs. Margarine: Which one is better and why?Butter Vs. Margarine: Which one is better and why?
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There is a lot of myths and misinformation about both butter and its substitute margarine. And the debate over which is better is always on as both of them have their set of advantages and disadvantages. Today we are talking about how they are different from each other and which is healthier. Speaking of butter, it is one of the commonly consumed milk products and it is made from the cream of milk. It is mainly used for frying, cooking and greasing among others. It is also used as ingredients in many dishes including sauces, cakes, and pastries. 

On the other hand, margarine is a processed food item made from canola oil, palm fruit oil, and soybean oil among others. In order to look and taste like butter their chemical structure is changed to make them solid like butter.  The hardening of oils is usually done with a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the oil’s saturated fat content and unhealthy trans fats are formed as a side product. Also, margarine has food additives, including emulsifiers and colorants.

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The differences between Butter and Margarine


Butter is packed with several nutrients with many of them not available in many other foods. Butter prepared from grass-fed cows may provide vitamin K2, conjugated Linoleic Acid Butyrate, Omega 3 among others. It also packs nutrients such as vitamin A, choline, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folate. The healthy fats which butter has are required for maintenance of the thyroid and adrenal health. It also has anti-fungal, anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties as well.  The downsides of butter are high saturated fat content and it is also high in cholesterol. While buying go for grass fed varieties.

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The good part is that they are made from vegetable oils and they are rich in polyunsaturated fats aka PUFAs and omega-6s which keeps many organs including heart, healthy. For instance, soybean oil-based margarine may contain around 20% polyunsaturated fat. Phytosterol-enriched margarines may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Speaking of the minus points, the trans fats which are the by-product of the hydrogenation process. Trans fat which is known as industrial trans fats can increase the risk of chronic diseases. 

And that's why many health authorities strongly advise people to limit their consumption of margarine. So, make sure you do not go for the hydrogenated ones. Check the packaging to see if they have trans fats or no before buying them. 

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Bottom line

There is no clear winner but we should go for less processed food. So, butter gets more points than margarine. Also, moderation is the key as overeating of any of these products will backfire. Healthier alternatives to butter or margarine are olive oil and other vegetable oil-based spreads.

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