The debate over butter versus margarine has been going on for decades. With an evolution in cooking oils and processes, it can be hard to decipher what the best option is for your menu.
Butter is most commonly made using cow’s milk, but is also made using goat or sheep’s milk. Making butter is an old-fashioned process that has been around for thousands of years and uses one or two simple ingredients: cream and salt.
Margarine is a butter substitute formulated from vegetable oils and water. Across its history, margarine has been marketed as a healthier alternative because of its saturated fats content. There are a variety of formulations of margarine in the marketplace including versions that are positioned as low-fat, salt-free, and lactose-free that are made from a variety of vegetable oils.
Margarine is lower in saturated fat than butter because it is made from vegetable oil instead of animal products.
Margarine is naturally cholesterol free and contains higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (good fats). Unsaturated fats help to lower bad cholesterol in the body.
There is no definitive answer whether butter or margarine is the better option, but most dietary experts agree when it comes to cooking to use a liquid oil in place of butter, margarine or clarified butter.
But there will always be certain foods where that delicious and rich butter flavor is wanted. Simply remember to use them judiciously, as both butter and margarine contains 100 percent fat and consuming them frequently can quickly increase the total calories in the diet.
In the end, whether you are choosing butter or margarine; it is important to always read labels to understand what is in the food you are buying, serving, and consuming.
*A clean label is one that has few ingredients, and the ingredients are free of artificial sweeteners, added preservatives and food additives.
**Cholesterol 101: Good vs. Bad. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the bad cholesterol. This is because it plays a role in plaque build up within arteries. If plaque build up is left untreated and becomes severe it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the good cholesterol. It helps remove LDL from the arteries.For more information about cholesterol, LDL or HDL visit www.heart.org.