Which is it: butter or margarine?
So, for some this may seem like a weird question, but it's one I get ALL the time from clients, family, uber drivers...you name it. It's often mentioned as the reason some distrust nutrition science, feeling science "backflipped". It's also relevant again with some diet trends. As per usual, it isn't so clear cut. To start with, butter was previously used in most dishes, on sandwiches and was a staple in the family home. Then came margarine, which was marketed as a healthier and cheap alternative. This was until it was discovered that the process used to create margarine from oils generated trans fats- not good for heart health. This is where the confusion began. Nowadays, trans fat is removed from margarine and is no longer a health concern. Butter on the other hand, is >65% saturated fats, which while we've found don't all behave the same way, they haven't been found to be good for our health. This is particularly true for butter: switching out butter for good quality margarine has been shown to reduce our LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Margarines fortified with plant sterols have a stronger effect here, too (though you need to have a lot). The opposite, switching to butter, will increase it. A common argument for butter is that it's "natural" and contains vitamins, while margarine will often be fortified with vitamins. Generally both options are energy dense, and so there are other sources of these nutrients with fewer calories. 🤷🏼So, the answer is neither, either or both. It truly depends on your goals and preferences. You shouldn't consider a food by one nutrient alone. Having some butter in your baking occasionally or a small spread on bread if you enjoy it is fine, opting for margarine to aid with cholesterol levels, or due to allergies is fine, but I'd aim to have other fats appear more frequently in my diet that are beneficial (and also "natural"). Using nut butters, extra virgin olive oil, hummus or tahini and avocado instead will provide good fats that are heart friendly, as well as a bunch of nutrients and phytochemicals. Everything in moderation, my friends. It may not be exciting, but it's true.