Which is best for you? Butter or margarine? The debate is still raging. 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the discovery of margaric acid, the ancestor of modern margarine. Most of those 200 years have been a struggle between these two ‘foods’.

Recently it looked like margarine was a clear loser. Its high level of trans fats got it labeled as “just one molecule away from plastic,” with the ability to quickly block your arteries and cause heart attacks and more. But, now margarine has reinvented itself, decreasing trans fats and adding new healthy ingredients.

1. Cost
Cost was the driving factor behind the development of margarine and for many price-conscious consumers, it turns out to be a significant factor.
100 grams of margarine in Albania cost 30 Lek
100 grams of butter starts at 100 Leks and it only goes up.
Margarine was banned for 62 years in Canada during which time margarine was one of the most smuggled products. Winner: Margarine

2. Taste
Although this is a more subjective topic, there is no question of the winner. Decades ago when margarine seemed to be the latest ‘health trend’ many people dug in their heels to stay with butter on this aspect alone. There is something unique about the taste of butter. Many artificial flavorings try to copy it but are never totally successful. Just the fact that we have phrases like “melt in your mouth like butter” shows its profound attraction.

3. Heart Healthy Saturated Fat Levels

This area was and is margarine’s strongest attempt to look healthier. Butter has more saturated fats, averaging 50 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, whereas margarines range from 10 to 35 grams depending on the quality. Saturated fat for a long time was directly associated with higher rates of heart disease and other health problems.

4. Vitamins and Minerals
Remember that butter is a major part of milk – the only food a young cow thrives on. Butter contains an easily absorbable vitamin A, E, K, and D). Butter has higher levels of selenium, a trace mineral and morewarm powerful antioxidant than even garlic. Butter also supplies iodine, needed by the thyroid gland.

5. Cholesterol Content
Margarine contains NO cholesterol while all animal products (butter) contain cholesterol since the body creates its own cholesterol for essential functioning.

6. Essential Fatty Acids
Butter has small, but equal, amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This for most people is a much healthier ratio than what we normally consume.

7. Trans Fat Content
Margarine originally got its “hardness” from its unsaturated oils, and a hydrogenation process that filled up certain molecular bonds is what made it spreadable. This caused high levels of trans fats. Modern nutrition has now discovered that these artificial fats with their unnatural bonds have very strong negative consequences.

The health risks include tripling the risk of coronary heart disease, decreases immune response, increases total cholesterol and LDL, the bad cholesterol, and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol).

Grand Winner? Butter due to being natural. What about you?/AgroWeb.org