I know you are probably like me and have a friend out there who forwards on to you lots of emails intending to frighten you about safety or health issues. A couple weeks ago I received such an email about margarine. I did a little research and found out that this email has been circling the web now for 4 years and has become quite the urban legend. SO, I wanted to get to the bottom of the margarine vs. butter debate and here is what I found.
Arthur Agatston, MD author of the “South Beach Diet” recommends using a low fat substitute instead of butter.
Robert Atkins, MD founder of the “Atkins diet” recommends using butter.
The American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the National Cholesterol Education Program; and the Mayo Clinic recommend soft tub margarine over butter.
A recent Harvard Medical Study found that eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter.
- Contains no cholesterol.
- Contains more good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) than butter.
- Most people view margarine as cheaper and healthier.
- All margarines are trying to taste more like butter.
- Easier to spread.
- Tub margarine is better than stick margarine (the softer the better for you).
- Can contain pesticide residues depending on where the oil comes from.
- Margarines are processed by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which create trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids increase cancer risk, promote inflammation; accelerate aging and degenerative changes in tissues. Trans-fats occur naturally, in small amounts, in some meat and dairy foods. But most can be found when vegetable oils are chemically changed to give them a longer shelf life; such as cookies, potato chips, and doughnuts. Margarines are chemically changed vegetable oils. Trans-fat is the culprit for increasing coronary disease.
- Margarines when heated turn into rancid trans-fatty-acid.
- The margarine industry is working on eliminating trans-fat from their products. A trans-fat free product contains less than .5 grams of trans-fat per serving. The Federal Government passed regulations that by 2006 all food labels disclose how much trans-fat a product contains.
- A natural product made from animal fat.
- Contains dietary cholesterol.
- Has high levels of saturated fat (this can raise LDL cholesterol levels).
- Eating butter increases the absorption of nutrients from other foods.
- Tastes good.
- Excellent source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Butters fatty acids are structurally similar to the fatty acids in our bodies.
- May contain residues of drugs given to cows, pesticides, and environmental toxins. To avoid ingesting cow hormones you may choose organic butter.
- A healthy person should have no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Butter has 33 milligrams in 1 tablespoon.
So the question is which is worse butter or margarine? Read the facts not the myths and you decide.