Butter And Margarine: Which Is The Better Choice?

Butter has always been the staple ingredient of our everyday life. Be it to spread on simple toast or add to any culinary dishes to enhance the flavors, butter has always been our favorite ingredient to choose. But soon it was replaced with margarine which was considered as an inexpensive alternative to butter and was thought to be healthier for people suffering from underlying chronic ailments. However, with websites and magazines, touting one of them better than the other, the debate between butter and margarine has been stretched too long. 

If you also have wondered what to choose between butter and margarine, then you have stumbled upon the right article, my friend, as we discuss all the benefits and side effects of butter and margarine and compare both of them out. 

What are butter and margarine? 

Butter is a soft, yellow-hued, edible emulsion of a mixture that contains butterfat, water, and air. Sometimes salt is added to the mix too. Butter is usually used for frying, as an ingredient for sauces, cakes, and pastries, or used as a spread. Butter is made by churning the cream which is separated from the milk

One tablespoon (14.2 grams) of unsalted butter contains

  1. 102 calories
  2. Fat- 11.5g
  3. Saturated fat- 7.17g
  4. Cholesterol- 30.5mg

No sugar or carbohydrates are usually found. 

On the other hand, margarine is made from oil or by combining a mixture of oils through a process of hydrogenation. It is processed food and made in such a way that it has a taste and looks similar to butter. Margarine is made from vegetable oils and involves a range of ingredients to prepare a flavor and texture that makes it enjoyable to the consumer and also so that it can provide a taste similar to butter.

The ingredients generally used in the mixture are olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, vitamin A, and salt. 

There are usually two types of margarine produced and the nutritional value is a little different for both of them. 

One tablespoon of unsalted stick margarine (14.2g) contains

  1. 102 calories
  2. Fat- 11.5g
  3. Saturated fat- 2.16g

No cholesterol, carbohydrates, and sugar were found. 

Similarly, one tablespoon of light margarine (14.2g) contains

  1. 50 calories
  2. Fat- 5.42g
  3. Saturated fat- 0.67g
  4. Carbohydrates- 0.79g

Trans fat, cholesterol, and sugar are not observed. 

Health benefits of butter and margarine

Both butter and margarine provide unique benefits of their own. They are rich in nutrients and each of the nutrients has a different role in our body. Some of the common benefits are

Butter And Margarine
  • Butter
  1. As already mentioned, butter is highly nutritious. Some of the nutritions are present only in butter and cannot be found in other food items. Especially if the butter is made from the milk of grass-fed cows.
  2. Butter is abundant in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and these nutrients and micronutrients provide bountiful health benefits for the body. 
  3. Butter helps in lowering the risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and chronic heart ailments. 
  4. The Conjugated linoleic acid found in butter has been reported to have anticancer properties and it can also lower unwanted fat percentage from the body. 
  5. Butter is rich in butyrate and omega-3 which helps in combating inflammation, improving digestive health, and also helps in controlling unwanted weight gain. 
  • Margarine
  1. Since butter is rich in saturated fats, margarine was considered a healthy alternative for butter. Margarine is composed of polyunsaturated fats as it is made from vegetable oils. It has been reported that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats has to lead to a decrease in the risk of chronic heart ailments by 17℅.
  2. Margarine is abundant in plant sterols and stanols which have been reported to reduce the bad cholesterol in the body. 

Risks of consuming butter and margarine

Butter and margarine have numerous benefits to offer but there is also a fair share of side effects lined up on their sleeves. 

Butter And Margarine
  • Butter
  1. Butter is concentrated dairy fat and is composed of saturated fats. Therefore, having an excess of butter through diet can lead to grave complications in the future. 
  2. Excessive consumption of butter increases the risk of chronic heart ailments as they elevate the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body. 
  • Margarine
  1. Vegetable oil is not solid at room temperature but to make them solid so that it can be turned into a form like butter, scientists tweak their chemical structure with the help of a process known as hydrogenation which involves exposing the oils to high temperature, pressure, H2 gas, and a metal catalyst. This process helps to achieve the desired form and also increases the shelf life but trans fat is also formed as a by-product of this process. And this trans fat increases the risk of chronic ailments in the body. 
  2. Margarine is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids which increases the risk of obesity and also causes inflammatory bowel diseases. 

Now there you go, everything you need to know about the butter and margarine debate. Each of them provides unique benefits for our body but that being said, both of them should be taken in moderation as excess consumption can produce derogatory effects on our body. 

If you are looking for including healthy fats in your daily diet, then go for alternatives like fish, different seeds like flaxseed, chia seeds, or different nuts. And if you have to choose between butter and margarine, go for butter that is made from grass-fed cows and in the case of margarine, go for varieties that are made from vegetable oils like canola, sunflower or neutral monounsaturated oils like safflower or olive oil. Whatever you choose between butter and margarine, do not forget to consult a nutritionist or a dietician before inclusion in your daily diet. 

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