What Would You Choose? Butter or Margarine?

February 22, 2012

You would found very hard to get a butter in the traditional market, or even in the supermarket, near your neighbourhood, if you live here in Indonesia. Nearly all Indonesian people thought that margarine and butter are just the same. The naming and use are often equated. Butter as margarine, or margarine as butter. Also often been mistaken to consider butter as cheese.

If you don't pay enough attention on both of them, they seem to have a similar color, but apparently they're not. Each of them have a very distinctive aroma, texture, color, and flavor. Butter is derived from milk or animal fats. Butter enriched with vitamin A, D, E and K, which are not soluble in water. Butter is capable of providing a longer sense of fullness and give more savory flavor and aroma that is more sharply on food.

While margarine is made from vegetable oils or fats. Margarine consist of a water-in-fat emulsion, 80% fat, 20% water, fortified with vitamin A, and D to match butter's nutritions. Margarine is also known to be butter's substitute. For years, margarine was believed to be more healthy than butter, which was known contains lots of cholesterol and saturated fat. Most people assumed that margarine is also good for your heart, but their assumption turned out to be wrong.

Margarine is produced by heating hydrogen to harden vegetable oils, a process called hydrogenation, or partially hydrogenating. It converts the oil into a solid, which makes easier to carry. However, the high temperature on hydrogenation process, destroys vitamin E and other nutrients left in the vegetable oil.

Based on Harvard study, margarine actually contains trans fatty acids, or trans fats, due to its partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. Trans fats are worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fats, because they raise bad LDL and lower good HDL, it may lead to increasing the risk of inflammation, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Excessive consumption of margarine also can trigger diseases such as colitis and arthritis.

Partially hydrogenated oils are not only in margarines, but also found in commercially prepared baked goods, snack foods, processed foods, French fries, restaurants's fried foods and fast food franchises. That's why the term junk food are came from.

The good news is that margarine manufacturers are now cutting their total trans fat levels as close to zero as possible. They switched the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to water or liquid vegetable oil.

What would you choose then? Butter or margarine?

If it is possible, you can skip using both of them. Use olive oil, canola oil, or another liquid vegetable oil. It's best way for us to stay healthy by being mindful of the amount of food we eat, in relation to the amount of calories we burn in a day, suggest Harvard scientist.

References :

The Nutrition Source
Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good

Butter vs. Margarine:
I am still confused over the age-old controversy "butter vs. margarine." Which is better for me to eat?

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