It’s the age-old debate that keeps rearing its head: which is better for your health, butter or margarine?
We’ve all been fed the message from health authorities that margarine is better for your heart and cholesterol levels, while butter is fattening…
But is it true? The latest scientific research says NO!
Let me give you the low-down on each, and tell you why I think butter is better.
Butter is essentially pure cream that has been separated from milk and churned. It contains animal fats, water and salt (the only added ingredient). Humans have been making and eating butter for centuries, and over a third of the world’s milk production is devoted to butter-making.
Butter also provides essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that you won’t get from margarine. It does contain more saturated fats than margarine, but has less trans fats which have been linked to high cholesterol levels.
Butter also contains butyrate, a compound that provides fuel for the cells lining your digestive tract and bowel, helping to prevent bowel cancer.
Margarine is mainly made from plant-based oils, and was first developed in the 1860s as a cheaper substitute to butter. To make margarine, plant seeds like the rapeseed (canola) and sunflower seed are harvested, the oil is extracted, and then it is mixed with milk, water, palm oil, salt and other additives. In itself, that doesn’t sound entirely good for you, but it gets worse.
Margarine is usually made from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides. When it comes to production, vegetable oils can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They must be chemically removed, deodorized and altered.
Finally, to be turned into margarine, the vegetable oil must go through the process of hydrogenation to make it solid at cold temperatures, which is where trans fats are created. At this stage, the mix is a tasteless grey colour and additives and preservatives are added to give the colour and taste similar to butter.
Not only does butter taste better, it’s a natural product that humans have been eating for centuries without damaging their health. Why then change to a highly refined, additive-laden, low-grade alternative?
So what type of butter should you eat? There are a few alternatives:
Note: Try to buy unsalted butter if you can, as manufacturers usually use a commercially prepared salt.
You can also find a list of good fats you should include in your diet, and fats to avoid below:
(Please note: While palm oil may be an acceptable oil to consume, its production is extremely damaging to the environment and is putting the future of organutans at risk. You can read more here.)
Yours in health,
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