Home Consumer Butter vs. Margarine: Which Is Healthiest?

Butter vs. Margarine: Which Is Healthiest?

butter vs margarine

By Butter is a solid dairy product made by churning cream or milk to separate the solid components from the liquid. The solids that disperse form butter. Butter is commonly used in cooking, baking and as a spread for bread and bread-like products.

Margarine was developed as a substitute for butter and is made from plant-based oils such as canola oil, palm fruit oil and soybean oil.

Salt and other ingredients that keep the flavor and texture of the spread acceptable to the consumer such as maltodextrin, soy lecithin and mono or diglycerides are commonly added as well. Oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil may also be used.

Some kinds of margarine are meant to be used as a spread only and should not be used for baking or cooking.

Fats and cholesterol

Trans fat: Trans fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol significantly while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans fats harden at room temperature. As a general rule, the harder the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. However, food companies can claim a product contains zero trans fat as long as it contains less than 0.5 grams per serving.

Instead of looking at just the nutrition label, make sure to look at the ingredient label of any processed food for partially hydrogenated oils, a common source of trans fat. If the product contains partially hydrogenated oils, it will contain trans fat even if the label claims 0 grams.

Saturated fat: Saturated fat also raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, but less than trans fats. Butter contains a significant amount of saturated fat, but little-to-no trans fat.

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is found only in animal products, coconut and palm oil. Most margarines contain little or no cholesterol. Butter contains a significant amount of cholesterol.

From recent research, we now know that the body creates cholesterol in much larger amounts than what you eat.1Cholesterol in food does not necessarily affect your blood cholesterol levels.