For years, there has been a debate over whether margarine or butter is the healthier spread option. Picture: Pexels/Jess Bailey Designs
For years, there has been a debate over whether margarine or butter is the healthier spread option. Picture: Pexels/Jess Bailey Designs

Margarine vs butter: What's the difference?

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jul 9, 2021

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For years, there has been a debate over whether margarine or butter is the healthier spread option.

Although many people think of the two things interchangeably, there are actually multiple substantial differences between them that will likely impact your next trip to the grocery store.

If you love cooking or work in the food industry you might be familiar with the differences. But for the everyday consumer, it might not be so easy to tell the two apart.

From my understanding, the biggest difference between margarine and butter is that butter is made from milk or cream, while margarine is made from salt, vegetable oil, and emulsifiers.

For years, there have been claims stating that margarine consists of similar chemicals to those found in plastic and paint. But according to nutrition expert Penny Kris-Etherton, this is completely false information.

Here’s the difference between margarine and butter, according to health experts.

Taste

Butter usually has a flavoured, slightly salty taste and should be your go-to product for baking certain pastries like cookies. Margarine, on the other hand, has a neutral taste so it is the perfect substitute for when the taste of butter is not needed in a particular dish.

Nutrition

It is revealed that because butter is obtained from the milk of grass-fed cows, it contains saturated fats and cholesterol. One serving of butter accounts for more than one-third of your recommended intake of saturated fat per day.

Butter also contains around 100 calories per tablespoon. It does have certain vitamins, such as vitamin K2, that are lacking in margarine, as well as vitamins A and E, while margarine is made from vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, canola, soybeans, and more. It contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, in addition to lower levels of saturated fat.

However, experts also reveal that there is a similar level of calories as in butter, approximately 100 calories per tablespoon.

Health benefits

It is revealed that butter often contains powerful fatty acids, such as butyrate, as well as conjugated linoleic acid, both of which can benefit heart health when consumed in moderation.

However, the high level of saturated fat and cholesterol means only a small amount of butter should be included in your diet. And margarine?

They say it has lower levels of saturated fat, and the mono and polyunsaturated fats can help lower overall cholesterol and reduce inflammation, so it is safe to say margarine is the healthier option.

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