BLOG: Butter or margarine? As a registered dietitian this is a question that I hear very often. When comparing butter to a stick of traditional margarine, my answer is butter.
While it should still be consumed in moderation (check out last week’s article), butter is the naturally better choice. And I mean that quite literally. Butter is an all-natural product made by churning the cream of cow’s milk. Margarine, on the other hand, is a processed food made of vegetable oils, food dyes, and other artificial ingredients. In fact, until World War I, margarine was a banned food.
In the 1950s, margarine became increasingly popular as a way to avoid the saturated fat and cholesterol in butter. Many believed margarine to be more beneficial as it’s made from oils that contain healthy unsaturated fats. Unfortunately, oils remain liquid at room temperature and margarine requires additional processing, known as hydrogenation, to give it a butter-like consistency. This process also turns many of the healthy oils into dangerous trans fats.
Recent research has proved trans fats to be much more detrimental than the natural fat found in butter. When comparing butter and margarine, studies have shown an increased risk of heart disease among those who consume margarine with high levels of trans fats. In contrast, when used in moderation, butter can actually have some benefits for health.
1. Small amounts of saturated fat can actually keep you feeling full longer. The recommendation is no more than 7% of calories, or about 16 grams, come from saturated fat.
2. Fat can increase flavor. When food is dissolved in fat the taste actually lasts longer. Use this to your advantage by eating less and getting more flavor from your food! You can also add a small touch of butter to healthy foods, such as vegetables or whole wheat bread, to increase the texture and flavor.
3. Butter contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K. Vitamin K, a more difficult nutrient to find, is important for preventing osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease.
At Stewart’s you can find rich and creamy butter that is full of flavor and vitamins. Every neighborhood shop provides fresh, local milk that requires even less processing and provides more vitamins and minerals than ultra-pasteurized products. Stop into a shop today and pick up a stick of real Stewart’s butter, that when used in moderation, can be part of a healthy lifestyle!
-Christine Sloat MS, RD, CDN
About Christine: Christine Sloat is a Registered Dietitian and life-long resident of upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware, and a Master’s of Science in Applied Nutrition from The Sage Colleges in Troy. She has a nutrition consulting business, Nutritious Notions LLC.