Margarine vs Butter - Which is Better?
Do you remember the days when in your grocery store margarine was no where to be found? That's because there simply wasn't any. Then one day the doctors and the nutritionists started telling people to stop eating butter and start eating margarine. Then all of the sudden 20 brands of margarine appeared. Then came light and extra light margarine. Now the butter section is only about 1/3rd of that of margarine on the shelf.
Although the intentions of the health experts were well intended whether or not the outcome was good is not so clear cut.
The reason that butter moved to second place is because people started to be more concerned about their fat intake. And it is true that butter is high in fat, and part of that is saturated fat (the bad stuff). So all at once people went into panic mode and stopped eating butter. Well, this created the way for margarine, which claimed that it is low in saturate fats.
What was not well known however is that butter is natural whereas margarine is not. In addition, butter is high in fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are vital for proper health. Butter is also made from milk which which is seen as a healthy food.
Margarine is artificially made. Although it is made from vegetable oils, which are mono and poly-unsaturated (the good kind of oil), what the producers don't' tell you is that this oil has to be chemically altered If this alteration is not done then it would look just like oil, and of course no one would buy it because it wouldn't look appetizing and it wouldn't taste good. The process it is put through is called hydrogenation.
Hydrogenation is the process of hardening a vegetable oil, by using high temperatures, so it looks and tastes like butter. This process changes the good fats (polo and mono-unsaturated fats) into saturated fats (the bad fats). In addition, hydrogenation creates trans fats which are very bad for you. If you've been reading the news lately you may have heard that there is a movement to eliminate all trans fats from all our foods. To top it all off, any nutrients that were originally in polo and mono-unsaturated fats has now been destroyed. So margarine has absolutely no nutritional value except a lot of calories.
Beware of marketing gimmicks that claim that margarine has no cholesterol, etc. These statements ay be true, but they do not tell you the entire story.
My advice is to stick to natural products, such as butter. But if weight loss or high cholesterol is an issue for you then use it in moderation. If you decide to stick to margarine then find a brand that has the lowest hydrogenated fat value, which is usually listed as a percentage. For example, Becel. Check the labels and be aware of what you are eating.