Butter vs. Margarine
The butter vs. margarine debate goes on at many dinner tables. It’s similar to the sugar vs. low-calorie sweetener dispute. Butter and sugar backers claim that the real stuff is healthier because it lacks chemicals and “manufactured” ingredients that make up margarine and sweeteners’ tastes. Don’t believe everything you hear at the dinner table.
Margarine and butter contain fats. But there are different kinds of fats and some are not bad for you. Butter and margarine both contain saturated fat (the bad kind) and butter contains cholesterol (also bad). Saturated fat and cholesterol should both be limited in your diet since they can lead to heart disease and other serious problems.
The saturated fat and cholesterol in butter can raise the level of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream. One tablespoon of butter (that’s not a lot if you consider how much is used in cooking) has more than 7 grams of saturated fat and 33 milligrams of cholesterol.
Some “artificial” butters like Benecol actually have ingredients to reduce your cholesterol levels. In this fight, margarine wins. But be sure you’re getting the right kind.
Avoid margarine that is made from hydrogenated oils, margarine in stick form, and margarine that contains trans fat.
Use margarines that contain no trans fats. These margarines are usually sold in tubs rather than sticks.
If you’re looking for a healthy substitute for butter in cooking, try canola or olive oils. But if you’re trying to decide between butter and margarine for simple spreading and topping, use the margarine.