Have you ever wondered what the difference between butter and margarine is? Or perhaps you’ve heard you should be eating margarine for health instead of butter and don’t know which one to choose. Well over the next couple of posts we’ll be covering the differences between the two and also having a chat about what option might be the healthiest.
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Butter: The history of butter and how they make it
Butter has been made and consumed by humans for centuries. Before machines we had various ways of making butter and this is a key point to remember as we talk about butter and margarine. Butter is a natural food product made from raw cows milk, it always has been that way and always will.
Quite simply butter is made by first separating the fat from the liquid, this removes the butter cream and leaves what’s known as skim milk. The butter cream is then churned and that makes butter, simple as that! The only thing that’s usually added is salt but as you know you can also buy unsalted butter as well.
Here is a video showing the modern processing of butter
As you can see in the video, it is a very simple process.
Margarine: The history of margarine and how they make it
Margarine is quite a different story. It has not been consumed by humans for centuries but only increased in popularity in the 1950s-1960s when the idea that we should eat less saturated fat became a common dogma and more television advertising began. As a result we went about our science experiment ways to produce a ‘butter like’ substance made of “healthy” unsaturated fats. But there are a few flaws with this both in the basis of thinking as well as the way margarine is made.
1. Common knowledge
The common knowledge about the risks of saturated fat and heart disease has been deeply ingrained and yet it is largely incorrect. Heart disease is not caused by saturated fat clogging your arteries, heart disease is an inflammatory condition and is caused by a variety of things and margarine is one of the things that can contribute to it. Yes, that’s right, your healthy choice of margarine is not that healthy!
2. Margarine is highly processed
Unlike butter that is really just milk churned, margarine has to undergo an intensive process to become a margarine. It is made from unsaturated fats but in their normal state unsaturated fats are liquid form so in order to make them solid thay must be hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process changes the fatty acid structure, turning it upside down and creating more trans fats. Trans fats are a major, major contributor to increased inflammation (aka heart disease and other diseases), and various other health problems.
So people started unkowingly consuming more margarine thinking it was healthier for their heart and yet the opposite was true. It’s true that in the modern food supply trans fats have largely been removed but margarine still goes through these various levels of processing and contains many additives and preservatives. And even a small amount of trans fats is not safe, and all of it cannot be removed.
Another issue with margarines is that they are made from vegetable oils that are high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Overconsuming omega 6 fatty acids increase inflammation also and most people have an imbalance of Omega 6/3 and this presents issues for your health.
Here are a couple of videos regarding margarine.
The first one is about how the processing changes the structure of margarine.
These videos clearly demonstrate the differences between butter and margarine, especially in their processing techniques.
In the next post I will be covering the health aspects of butter and margarine in more detail.
If you’d like an update about that and other important up to date nutrition info, click here and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.
Nutrition & Health Coach