Q. "I keep hearing two totally different points of view on the butter vs. margarine debate. Which one is better? Or maybe better put, which one is less worse?"
The comparison between butter and margarine certainly has drawn some extreme opinions with both sides digging in their heals and claiming the other to be a heart risk nightmare.
The argument against butter?
That butter is on the banned list of high cholesterol foods as it contains dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. And hence, is allegedly increasing your risk for coronary heart disease.
The anti-margarine side will contend that the hydrogenation process and trans fats make margarine a far worse choice for your arterial and heart health.
First, let's cut to the bottom line…
Will replacing butter with margarine…
… lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your heart attack risk?
The answer is a resounding NO!
As reported by Nutrition Week, people who eat margarine have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters.
The surprising fact to most is that the dietary (natural) fat in butter is not stored as excess body fat. It's actually used for energy.
The biggest difference between butter and margarine boils down to this…
Do you want to consume natural fats or artificial fats?
Natural fats (yes, even natural saturated fats) are necessary to the body for cell regeneration and to maintain proper balance.
On the other hand, the body views anything artificial as a foreign object. It takes extra "stress and energy" to properly deal with it.
Which leads me to my next point.
Rule #1 when making any food choice…
Natural foods are always better than artificial 'foods'. Always.
Butter is made from cream and is a natural, healthy fat.
Believe it or not, butter does have nutritional value.
There's plenty of evidence to support that butter helps boost the immune system. We know it contains nutrients that build strong bones and teeth.
Now, don't get me wrong here…
I'm not advocating butter as some sort of "health food" that you should be shoving down your gullet at every opportunity.
But it's nowhere near as bad for you as we've been lead to believe. Not even close.
Margarine on the other hand?…
Margarine is an artificial concoction of chemicals.
The artificial trans fat created in margarine's hydrogenation process is a serious contributor to elevated blood cholesterol levels and damages artery walls.
Butter tastes better.
And it's better for you.
The truth is that margarine is one of the absolute worst things for both your arteries and heart. (That's why I rank the "margarine is heart-friendly myth" right up there with the lies you’ve been told about cholesterol and eggs.)
What if the margarine is fortified with plant sterols?
One development in recent years to make margarine "more heart-friendly" was to add plant sterols to the product.
I'm amazed at how many doctors and organizations have blindly jumped on this nonsense bandwagon.
To me, that's like injecting a donut with Vitamin C and claiming that eating donuts will help fight off a cold.
It's absurd and ridiculous.
If margarine was pumped full of all sorts of healthy vitamins and minerals, it's still artificial. And it still contains substances that are foreign and toxic to your body.
A couple weird margarine myths…
I've been making strong recommendations to clients for years now to avoid margarine at all cost. But there are some margarine myths out there that I'd like to clear up.
You need to understand that even substances which are very dissimilar, often share similar chemical properties. But just a minor variation can make a great deal of difference in the quality and end result.
I've seen no evidence to suggest that margarine and plastic are just one chemical away from being the "same".
But even if that's true, it's essentially irrelevant.
Margarine wasn't made to fatten turkeys. It was actually created to be a butter substitute.
Margarine was created in 1869 by Hippolyte Mega Mouries of France as part of a project to produce a low-cost alternative to butter.
The original version formulated by Mouries contained softened beef fat, which was later replaced by the artery-clogging vegetable oils.
Couple things you may not know, but should…
I won’t go into all the details of how margarine is produced, but here are a couple facts I want to make you aware of…
Hydrogenation is used in the production of margarine and simply put … you never want to eat hydrogenated foods.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that partially hydrogenated is only "partially" bad for you. Any and all hydrogenation is bad for you. Very bad.
Also, producers typically use low quality, second-rate oils to make their margarine. This is a common practice to cut costs and improve profit margins.
That's bad enough, but to make matters worse…
These oils (often already rancid) are heated to extremely high temperatures during the manufacturing process.
And make no mistake, heated oils are among the worst “foods” you can put inside your body.
Let's not forget about the addition of some not-so-down-home-goodness like emulsifiers, synthetic vitamins and artificial flavors and colors.
How anyone can even think about calling this junk "healthy" is beyond me.
Run on over to your refrigerator and toss any margarine tubs in the trash right now.
Don't mess around with that artery clogging and cancer causing garbage.
Whether it's using it on a piece of toast or using in cooking and baking … butter is always the better choice.
While you don’t want to go overboard with extremely high amounts of butter in your diet, be sure to choose butter if you're deciding between butter vs. margarine.
Your taste buds and your heart will both thank you for it.