What is better to consume between Margarine and Butter?
In this brief article, we will answer the query “What is better to consume between Margarine and Butter?” Additionally, we will briefly explore the health implications of saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids, as well as what other alternatives you can choose over butter and margarine.
What is better to consume between Margarine and Butter?
If you have to select between margarine and butter, the evidence shows that butter is a better option over margarine. Even though butter is high in saturated fatty acids, it is not associated with increased risks of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes (1).
Margarine, on the other hand, is associated with higher mortality by cardiovascular outcomes and diabetes, mainly because it is (in most cases) a source of trans fatty acids (2,3).
However, international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) have established strict regulations to ensure a trans fatty acid concentration below 2 % in margarine (3).
There are some countries that have taken those regulations seriously and are now offering healthier margarine, such as: Canada, United States, Chile, Latvia, Slovenia, Thailand, Austria, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, and South Africa (3).
What are the potential Health Implications of Butter?
The main health concern about butter and other fat sources is the increased risk of obesity. Fats are energy-dense nutrients, providing 9 calories per gram. Therefore, consuming high amounts of butter could increase your energy intake (4).
Another concern in butter is the content of saturated fat and cholesterol (4).
In the past, saturated fats and cholesterol intake were associated with higher risks of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction (4).
Saturated fatty acids and cholesterol were associated with an increase of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL-C). LDL-C could mobilize cholesterol molecules to arteries, causing inflammation and atheroma; this latter is a cause of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (4).
Nowadays, there is controversy if butter actually increases the risks of cardiovascular health. But, it is highly recommended to reduce your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol if you already have a cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension (1,2,4).
A single tbsp of butter provides around 30 mg of cholesterol (10 % of maximum intake allowance) and 7.3 g of saturated fatty acids. Butter also has a small amount of trans fatty acids (<4 %) which are naturally occurring (5).
What is Margarine, and what are its potential Health Implications?
Margarine are solid-like fats made from vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature, so they should be processed to be in a solid state (3).
The process to form a solid fat from liquid vegetable oil is known as hydrogenation. During this process, the unsaturated fatty acids of vegetable oils are converted into saturated in a chemical reaction with hydrogen. This increase of saturated fatty acids makes margarine solid-like at room temperature (3).
Similar to other fats, margarine also provides a high load of energy, so the main health drawback of excessive consumption is the increased risk of obesity (4).
Moreover, hydrogenation processing could lead to the formation of trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids refer to those unsaturated fatty acids with a trans chemical conformation (3).
Trans fatty acids are related to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, rise of Low Density Lipoproteins, and metabolic inflammation (6).
The content of trans fatty acids in margarine is determined mainly by the processing of margarine, it could be in a range of 0.5 % to 40 %. Right now, many industries are optimizing their processes to meet the international regulations of <2 % of trans fatty acids in foods (3).
Are there any healthier alternatives for Butter and Margarine?
The best and healthier option for butter and margarine is olive oil. Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats like Omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols (7).
Omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols are known because of their antioxidant potential, as well as their role in preventing diseases like diabetes, cardio metabolic diseases, and obesity (7).
Nevertheless, olive oil is not solid at room temperature. If you are looking for a solid fat, Ghee is a good option. Ghee is clarified butter used in ancient India as medicinal food (8).
Nowadays, Ghee is gaining attention due to its similarity to butter, but with health-related benefits. Ghee has no trans fatty acids, it contains medium-chain fatty acids which are of high digestibility, and short-chain fatty acids that are associated with colon cancer prevention (8,9).
In this brief article, we answered the query “What is better to consume between Margarine and Butter?” Additionally, we briefly explored the health implications of saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids, as well as what other alternatives you can choose over butter and margarine.
- Pimpin L, Wu JHY, Haskelberg H, Del Gobbo L, Mozaffarian D. Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality. PLoS One, 2016;11(6):e0158118.
- Liu Q, Rossouw JE, Roberts MB, Liu S, Johnson KC, Shikany JM, Manson JE, Tinker LF, Eaton CB. Theoretical Effects of Substituting Butter with Margarine on Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Epidemiology. 2017;28(1):145-156.
- Silva TJ, Barrera-Arellano D, Ribeiro APB. Margarines: Historical approach, technological aspects, nutritional profile, and global trends. Food Research International, 2021;147:110486.
- Zhang Y, Zhuang P, Wu F, He W, Mao L, Jia W, et al. Cooking oil/fat consumption and deaths from cardiometabolic diseases and other causes: prospective analysis of 521,120 individuals. BMC Med, 2021;19(1):92.
- Usda.gov. [cited 2023 May 26]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173410/nutrients
- Kwon Y. Effect of trans–fatty acids on lipid metabolism: Mechanisms for their adverse health effects. Food Rev Int, 2016;32(3):323–39.
- Romani A, Ieri F, Urciuoli S, Noce A, Marrone G, Nediani C, Bernini R. Health effects of phenolic compounds found in extra-virgin olive oil, by-products, and leaf of Olea europaea L. Nutrients, 2019;11(8):1776
- Kumar, A, Tripathi S, Hans N, Pattnaik HSN, Naik SN. Ghee: Its properties, importance and health benefits. Lipid Universe, 2018;6:6-14
- Watanabe S, Tsujino S. Applications of Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Foods. Front Nutr, 2022;2(9):802805. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.802805.