Margarine or Butter?

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.

Margarine Facts:

  1. Contains no cholesterol.
  2. Contains more good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) than butter.
  3. Most people view margarine as cheaper and healthier.
  4. All margarines are trying to taste more like butter.
  5. Easier to spread.
  6. Tub margarine is better than stick margarine (the softer the better for you).
  7. Can contain pesticide residues depending on where the oil comes from.
  8. 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.
  9. Margarines when heated turn into rancid trans-fatty-acid.
  10. 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.

Butter Facts:

  1. A natural product made from animal fat.
  2. Contains dietary cholesterol.
  3. Has high levels of saturated fat (this can raise LDL cholesterol levels).
  4. Eating butter increases the absorption of nutrients from other foods.
  5. Tastes good.
  6. Excellent source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  7. Butters fatty acids are structurally similar to the fatty acids in our bodies.
  8. May contain residues of drugs given to cows, pesticides, and environmental toxins.  To avoid ingesting cow hormones you may choose organic butter.
  9. 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.


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