Margarine vs Butter – Which Should You Use & Why?
Everyone knows the flavors of margarine vs butter. But, there’s a distinct taste that butter lends a dish that can’t be replicated. Think of delicious croissants or buttery chicken. Could margarine really replace these things? Still, with that being said, would these items be healthier if margarine was used instead of the butter that we all love? This is a debate that many of us have fallen privy to.
People continually research the differences between butter and margarine. When trying to be healthy, many people switch to margarine. Surprisingly, this may not be the best choice in the long run. If you are wondering between margarine vs butter which one you should choose, you’re not alone.
Since the dawn of margarine, the margarine vs butter debate has been fierce. There are those who swear by margarine and those who swear by butter. If you’re trying to be healthy and choose a better diet this year, you’re not alone. Because everyone uses margarine and butter in their daily lives, it’s important to know which one will be better for you in the long run.
We all know that butter is what tastes better, but will margarine be the best for our health? It’s hard to determine even these days because there’s a lot of conflicting research. Thankfully, we’ve compiled it all into this article so you can decide the true winner of the margarine vs butter debate for yourself.
Margarine vs Butter: The History
Butter is butter. There have been millions of recipes and thousands of years that show that butter has been king for a very long time. Margarine has been around, but butter has always been the thing that many of us turn to when we need a sweet or savory treat. Butter has always made things better, and the historical use of it reaches back a very long time.
Believe it or not, margarine has been around for quite some time. There was a French king who offered a reward to anyone who could come up with a cheaper and more stable form of butter. It was hard to keep butter good at the time, and it was also very expensive for anyone who was not rich or didn’t own their own cows.
Because of this, the French government made it a challenging competition that would create a reward for margarine creation. This happened in 1869, and the butter substitute was developed originally from beef fat. The sole purpose was to make a suitable substitution that would last longer than traditional butter. It actually worked, and it was created by Hippolyte Mege-Mouries.
However, nowadays, margarine is much different. It no longer is made from beef fat but has been replaced with vegetable oils like soybean oil and cottonseed oils. It became very popular when butter was too expensive, especially during the Depression era. People used it because it could taste good in baked goods and didn’t spoil as quickly as real butter did.
That being said, it wasn’t until the later half of the 20th century that margarine began to be touted as the better alternative to butter. It was said that saturated fats were best to be avoided; so many people began to look for alternatives. When margarine was made with vegetable oil and deemed to be lower fat, this was something that consumers really got behind.
This is where the margarine vs butter came into play. There were people that loved butter and those who loved margarine. The people who loved butter were thought to be unhealthy and gambling with their health. However, most people don’t realize that margarine was never made to be a healthier alternative to butter. It was made to be a cheaper alternative. This history is important because the view of margarine has been skewed all these years.
It’s not fair to compare the two when they were marketed for the sole purpose of saving money. The margarine debate got heated when the government started to say that vegetable oils have a better effect on our health. This continued, and still continues, in many parts of the world today. But, butter is making a comeback, and for good reason. A lot of times, the government pushes products that are beneficial to them. The sale of margarine has become a huge market today, and many people still believe that margarine is a much healthier alternative to butter.
When margarine first came out in the United States, there was a huge war between the dairy industry and the margarine producers. There were people that protested the sale of margarine completely. It became so heated and ugly that states actually had to create laws. Some states required margarine to be uncolored, meaning it could only be sold in the whitish gray color that it naturally was. Other states made the margarine be dyed pink so that people knew it was not real butter and that it was margarine.
The Margarine Act was created, which limited the margarine sales and made them pay a tax on the amount of margarine that was sold. To get around some of these laws, margarine would sell in its normal coloring but would then include yellow food dye or yellow beads that could be mixed into the margarine to get rid of its unappetizing color. In 1950, these laws disappeared, and margarine was touted as the healthier alternative to butter.
But, if you never knew the history behind the vegetable oil spread, you would never know that it was created to be a cheaper version of butter. We have always believed that margarine was a healthier alternative due to the 1950s stating that saturated fats were bad. This is when margarine rebranded itself, and it’s been viewed that way ever since.
It can be confusing when at the grocery store and see margarines marketed as the healthier alternative that are lower in fat and won’t clog your arteries. But, is it really true? Is margarine healthier? Keep reading to find out.
Fat or Low Fat
Right now, there are a lot of people who are scared to eat fat. For so many years, we’ve been told to eat a high carbohydrate diet that is low in fats for the best results to lose weight. There has been this fear of fat that has been ingrained so much into our brains that we can’t even imagine using something that is high in fat to actually lose weight.
We talked a little about where a fear of fat came from. This has continued on through the years as more studies are done to show that a diet low in fat can be beneficial to those suffering with high cholesterol and heart disease.
In addition to the margarine vs butter debate is the fat vs low fat debate. And, it feeds directly into the margarine vs butter debate. Margarine is often touted as the lower fat alternative to butter, which makes it a lot healthier. Nowadays, the argument for fat is about as heated as the butter debate.
Butter was thought to be unhealthy because it was so high in saturated fats. People would say that because butter is solid at room temperature, it would get stuck and clog your arteries. And while there has been some scientific data saying that fats will clog your arteries and is certainly not good for those who have a high risk of heart disease or high cholesterol, fat isn’t bad for you.
People believe that fat will make you fat, but that’s not entirely true. People who eat a lot of fat are often eating a lot of carbohydrates as well. Carbs get converted into sugar in our body, and they raise our blood sugar like we just ate a candy bar. Fats don’t do this, but when combined with the sugars in carbohydrates, it’s not healthy. The more fat you eat, the more fat that you will burn. Your body will get used to using fat as a fuel cell instead of carbohydrates, and it ends up being healthier for your body.
That being said, most people don’t correctly follow the high-fat diets. Eating bacon all day isn’t going to make you healthy, but eating avocados, which are high in fats, are extremely beneficial to you. It’s all in a balance, but eating low fat isn’t going to mean you’re going to shed weight like no one else.
The problem with most low fat foods is that they take out fat and add sugar into them, which is worse for your body! This is especially true with foods that are naturally high in fat, like peanut butter and butter. So while margarine is marketed as a lower fat alternative to butter, it doesn’t mean it’s healthier. Especially when that includes hydrogenated oils that have been processed further from their natural state.
For example, cottonseed oil is used quite frequently, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthier. We don’t even eat cotton, so using its seed for oil is unnatural for our bodies. And vegetable oil is usually made from the discarded parts of corn, canola, and soy, all which can cause more inflammation in our bodies and the lining of our guts. This leads to more problems later on.
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Why is Margarine Bad?
There are some cases where margarine is good, and we’ll get to that later on. But for now, let’s talk about why margarine isn’t good for you. There’s a lot of attention in the world with organic and GMOs. Margarine is made from oils that are not organic and are made with GMOs.
Lots of margarines use a combination of oils like soybean, canola, cottonseed, corn, and sunflower oils. Not all vegetable oils are bad, but unless it’s natural, like olive oil or coconut oil, they shouldn’t be consumed. They are all not natural at all, and that’s what margarine is made from.
Olive oil and coconut oil are both made by pressing. They are natural and extremely healthy for you. Butter is made by separating the cream from the milk. It’s a really easy process that just takes a few minutes.
On the other hand, vegetable oils are extremely hard to make. They don’t exist naturally, and they cannot be made by pressing. They are made by using petroleum byproducts to get the “oil” out of the “vegetables.” The seeds of rapeseed, corn, and soy are all heated to extremely high temperatures, which make the oil rancid before you purchase it at the store.
Once they are heated to the high temperatures, they are chemically processed. It goes through more processing to get rid of the chemical smell and to make it liquid at room temperature. Then to get margarine, they make it hydrogenated oil. Sounds like an easy process, right?
Well, it’s not natural at all and takes much longer than butter. Vegetable oils didn’t exist until the scientific movement in the early 1900s because the technology to make vegetable based margarine didn’t exist until then.
While the margarine of the past may not have been as bad as today’s because it used beef tallow, it certainly didn’t taste as good as butter.
But the hydrogenated vegetable oils turned into margarine aren’t even the worst part! These plants are all grown with GMOs and then they add artificial colors to make the margarine look like butter. If butter is so bad for you, why try and make margarine look like butter at all?
Margarines also have preservatives that are banned in many countries, like BHT and BHA. These artificial additives are what cause the increase in cancer, heart disease, and a host of other problems.
Another thing that gets people to buy margarine is that it claims it has high levels of Omega 3s. Omega 3s are really important for our body, but most people don’t realize that they are important because we need a healthy balance of omega 3s and omega 6 fatty acids. The balance between omega 3s and omega 6s is much more important than having high levels of omega 3s.
Margarine does indeed have omega 3s in the formula, but they also have omega 6s. They have extremely high levels of omega 6s, and it ends up upsetting the balance in our body. We need more omega 3s, but while margarine supplies you with omega 3s, it supplies you with omega 6s more, which makes the upset balance even worse.
You Need Fat
We get it; vegetable oils became popular because the world told us that saturated fats are horrible. Vegetable oils are unsaturated fats, but they are actually polyunsaturated fats, which aren’t even good for you! Did you know that our body is made up of saturated fats?
It’s true, you need fat to survive. To rebuild our cells and regulate our hormones correctly, we need fats in our body. But, most of us are getting high levels of polyunsaturated fats. Here’s the bad thing—polyunsaturated fats are unstable. This means that they oxidize easily. Not sure what that means? Well, it means they are going to cause a whole host of issues within our body. They cause inflammation and cell mutations. People end up with cancer, heart disease, fertility problems, and autoimmune diseases. The polyunsaturated fats are extremely bad for you!
The fats that you need are saturated fats. Despite the talk from the government saying otherwise, you need the butter fats! The soy and corn industry are one of the highest producing and largest monetary fields in the world. Our government profits highly off of the growth of soy and corn. Margarine uses high levels of these plants, which makes them more profit.
Why Butter Can Be Bad
Now, we aren’t saying that everyone should go out and stuff their face with sticks of butter. It’s not that butter is the healthiest thing on the planet because it’s not, but it is better than margarine. That being said, there are still some reasons that butter can be bad.
The type of butter that you buy is extremely important. For one, most butters in the stores today are from cows that are in huge dairies. These cows often never see the light of day, and they are forced to produce milk as they are artificially inseminated to give birth over and over to keep their milk supply up. This hurtful practice in the dairy industry causes dairy products that end up having blood and pustules in the milk. This then gets turned into butter, which is harmful to you. These cows are also fed a diet high in grains, and almost never see grass, which is what a cow should be eating. The grains they eat are soy and corn, and they have been treated with pesticides as well.
So, the type of butter that you buy is important. You want to look for butter that came from grass fed cows that had the opportunity to roam a pasture. They should be organic and live like actual cows should! Organic butter is important because you don’t want there to be pesticides in the butter that you are eating.
Those Who Prefer Margarine
Even despite the amount of research that has been done on the harmful effects of margarine, there are still some people who prefer it. There are some benefits to margarine that butter simply doesn’t have. For one, it lasts a lot than butter. It isn’t going to go rancid as fast, which means you can buy a huge container and it will last for months.
Another benefit to margarine is that it is cheaper than butter. It doesn’t cost as much as real butter because vegetable oils are cheaper than cream and milk. Margarine is also better for those who may be lactose-intolerant or deal with a dairy allergy. In that case, margarine is a lifesaver for those people. It mimics butter and can taste somewhat similar as a spread and in recipes.
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Those Who Prefer Butter
A lot of people prefer butter, even if they believe that it is unhealthy for them. That’s because butter just tastes better than margarine! It has the creaminess that margarine can never achieve, and it is infinitely better in many recipes. Whether you’re making cookies or popcorn, butter does something to the flavor that can’t be replicated.
Margarine vs Butter Reigning Champion
As you can see, margarine vs butter has a very colorful history. There are people who swear by margarine and those who swear by butter, but you have to know where this is all coming from. By learning the history, it’s easy to see that margarine saw a marketing opportunity and took it. It was never the healthier alternative to butter, but it was meant to be the cheaper alternative. Still, since the 1950s, people have believed that it was healthier for them when compared to butter.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. The thing with butter is that it is a healthy cooking fat. The vegetable oils in margarine are never going to be healthy for you. When given the choice, butter will always be the reigning champion. But, how should you use it?
Butter has been around for thousands of years, and margarine has only been around for 150. And in those 150 years, the formula has been changed so it is completely different than it was when it first started. It’s almost impossible to think that people would believe that margarine is better than butter.
But even today, butter is viewed as the artery clogging fat and margarine is viewed as the healthier alternative. Butter doesn’t require any fancy products to make, and you can even make it at home! Margarine vs butter is a silly argument when considering how natural butter can be.
When butter comes from grass fed cows, it has a lot of nutrients that make it like a super food. Some of these vitamins include conjugated linoleic acid, which is an anti inflammatory fatty acid. It’s extremely healthy for you and found in butter from grass fed cows. There is also Vitamin A, Vitamin K2, selenium and other minerals, and Iodine.
However, it’s important to remember that these only come from grass fed cows. The butter that you buy in the stores is often not grass fed unless it says it specifically. That being said, you’ll want to get butter that is from grass fed cows. This organic butter is healthier for you than what is readily available. Unfortunately, that also means that it is going to cost a lot more than margarine and other butters. But, it will be a lot healthier for you!
Use Either Sparingly
If you’re worried about the high fat content, you aren’t alone. A lot of people try to avoid saturated fats in their diets, and that means cutting out butter. But, unless you’ve been explicitly told that you need to avoid fats for your health, there’s no reason to avoid them.
That being said, fats can cause issues in high excess. They should be used as cooking oils and spreads, but you shouldn’t use more than necessary. Eating a whole stick of butter will never be healthy but it can definitely be healthy in moderation.
The reigning champion is butter. Despite all the health benefits it comes with, it also tastes a lot better than margarine! If you make your favorite recipes side by side with butter and margarine, you’ll find that the margarine vs butter debate shouldn’t even be a thing.
There will always be research showing that margarine is better than butter. But, you have to remember who is funding these studies and where this is coming from. A lot of the margarine companies or vegetable oil companies are funding these studies, and that is a problem in the long run.
The important thing to remember is that butter tastes better and is better for you, as long as your choose grass fed butter. The dairy industry has its problems just like any other industry, so you’ll want to do your research before you buy butter. The cheapest butter you can find is not going to be the high quality butter that you’ll want to be healthy.
Ways to Use Butter
Some of our favorite ways to use butter require zero effort at all. Whenever you are cooking something on the stove, replace your cooking oil with butter. Not only will it lend it a creamy factor, but it will also give it a nice touch of salt that a lot of recipes need. However, there are even better ways to use butter!
One of the best ways to use butter is bulletproof coffee. You add a tablespoon or two of butter to your black coffee to replace the sugar. While this may seem a bit strange at first, it actually tastes really good! It lends it a creamy factor that you will love!