What is the difference between butter and margarine? And which is better for you?

Well first, butter is a natural product and margarine is manmade. Margarine was invented in 1869 by Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès. Butter has been around since the cows came home.
Nutritionally they are almost identical. And, they are very similar in many other ways too. Alan Davidson, author of The Oxford Companion to Food (Canada, UK), says, “Margarine, of the kind intended to resemble butter, can be among the most realistic of ‘imitation’ foods. [It] spreads, melts, and combines with other ingredients in just the same way as butter. Only a slight deficiency in flavor and a small difference in texture and ‘mouth feel,’ discernible when it is eaten as a spread on bread, give it away.”
Butter is made by churning cow’s milk until it coagulates. It has a fat content by law of 80 to 85 percent.
On the other hand, margarine also has 80 percent fat and is made from blends of vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, safflower or canola. They use a chemical process called hydrogenation which replaces the double chemical bonds in those oils with single chemical bonds, making the liquid oils solid at room temperature.
However, that replacement process is never complete and we are left with what are called partially hydrogenated oil, also known as a trans fat. Trans fats are what make margarine solid instead of liquid at room temperatures. As we now know, trans fats are bad for you because they have been found to increase total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol).
Then again, you do not get away scot free with butter either. Because almost all butter is made from cow’s milk (an animal product) it is loaded not only with saturated fat but also contains cholesterol – something margarine doesn’t contain. And, as we know, saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for you.
So, the answer to the question is that you get to pick your poison: trans fat or saturated fat and cholesterol.
To me, it comes down to taste and butter wins every time.
Your taste may vary.


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