Margarine vs Butter – which is healthier?

People have a variety of options to select while they are looking for a spread for cooking or to enjoy on freshly baked rolls. Also, these options are expanding rapidly from dairy based margarines to vegan margarines to real butter. Regarding the health concern, you may be confused whether to select butter or margarine to place on morning toast. Some research come out proving that butter is a healthier choice while some other researches prove that margarine is healthier. It is necessary to see the fat content of both butter and margarine to determine which one is better for heart health.


Butter is an animal product and also high in both dietary cholesterol and artery-clogging saturated fat. Thus, it raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, many people prefer the taste of butter over margarine. Regarding butter, some concerns are also there that butter contains traces of hormones and antibiotics.  Butter is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K which is the plus side of butter.

As butter is high in saturated fat, it not only raises total cholesterol but also significantly increases the LDL (bad) cholesterol. LDL clogs the arteries and can lead to heart disease. According to healthy eating guidelines, people should consume not more than 10% of total calories as saturated fat.

  • Butter is completely natural
  • It contains mineral selenium, an anti-oxidant, iodine and lecithin
  • Linoleic, lauric and butyric acids play important roles in our body and butter contains all
  • Butter is rich in natural vitamin A, also good source of vitamins D, E, K
  • And yes, it contains cholesterol – a very important ingredient for brain development, cell elasticity and healthy intestines. Children especially need it in the diet.


Margarines are usually made from vegetable oil and contain fewer saturated fats. Margarine contains poly-unsaturated fats, which contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. Margarine has no dietary cholesterol as they are predominantly made from plant rather than animal derived oils. However, plant oils tend to be liquid at room temperature and so it is hardened through a process called hydrogenation in order to make them more solid and spreadable.

During this process trans fats may be formed which are thought to increase levels of bad cholesterol and also to lower levels of good cholesterol, the kind that offers a defense against artery-clogging fats. This trans fat is known to be more harmful to health than saturated fat.

Food manufacturers and the general public began to realize the negative health effects of trans fats in recent years. So, now manufacturers have created non-hydrogenated margarine which is widely available. No trans fat is present in non-hydrogenated margarine. Also, non-hydrogenated margarine is softer than the first-generation margarine stick.

Manufacturers now add a tiny amount of modified palm and palm kernel oil in place of hydrogenating liquid vegetable oil to improve the spreadability of margarine, making a soft margarine that’s trans fatty acid free.

Difference between butter and margarine:

Butter and Margarine both have same amount of calories. In point of fact, butter comes up with natural fats and various other nutritional benefits. These benefits are considered important for the strengthening of bones and other body functions.

How can Margarine be Harmful?

  • Excessive consumption of margarine can worsen the body’s condition which is suffering from diseases like arthritis and colitis. Some hardening agents like nickel and cadmium are used in manufacture of margarine. Nickel is a toxic metal and excess intake can damage lungs and kidneys. On the other hand, cadmium is also toxic heavy metal and excess intake may lead to diseases like high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and malignancy. The research which is carried out at Harvard University has revealed that a diet high in trans-fat can double the chances of getting heart attacks and decrease the life expectancy.

Raised awareness towards the harmful effects of hydrogenated fats has resulted in a questioning of the actual health benefits of margarine. But, the Food Standards Agency still suggests margarine as the healthier option. Changes in processing techniques are partly responsible for this. Also, they are good source of heart friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Today, margarine products contain 40 percent less total fat, 37 percent less saturated fat and 59 percent less trans fat than a decade ago. The softer, reduced-fat or liquid margarines contain lower amounts of saturated. The spray and liquid margarines are trans fat-free. Natural vegetable oil from soybeans is the predominant ingredient in margarine.

Health professionals and leading health organizations recommend margarine as a clearly the heart-healthy choice. The American Heart Association (AHA), Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Heart and NHLBI’s National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) have recently confirmed their suggestion to select soft (tub or liquid) margarine products in place of butter. Health professionals suggest margarine instead of butter.

Actually, margarine does seem to be the healthier choice but the different types do vary a great deal between them. Here is 4-step guide to select a healthy option.

  • Select a spread that has a low total fat content. Look for a spread that has less than 55g of fat per 100g.
  • Look for low saturated fat content. Select a spread that has less than 10g per 100 grams.
  • Look for a low trans fatty acid content. Manufacturers don’t legally have to announce this on the label but most do. Select a spread that has 0.5 grams or less per 100 grams.
  • Go for a spread made from olive, rapeseed or groundnut oil as these are probable to have the highest monounsaturated fat content.

Cholesterol-lowering spreads:

Many of the cholesterol-lowering spreads contain ingredients like stanols and sterols, derived from plants that can in fact decrease the amount of cholesterol that the body absorbs. These spreads can be effective to lower cholesterol but people should not use them as part of a healthy, balanced diet and not as a substitute for other, well established ways of decreasing the risk of heart disease, for example raising the consumption of fruit and vegetables, giving up smoking, consuming less saturated fat and taking more exercise.


To control the level of cholesterol in bloodstream, the most efficient way is to eat everything in moderate quantities. Don’t take anything excess. The products such as full cream milk and eggs provide many essential minerals and proteins which are required by human bodies for fruitful development and nutrition. Avoid completely cutting of any of these food products. A diet chart which is customized by a dietician is a best way to follow.

BHTV #15 – Butter vs. Margarine video from youtube:

1 Comment
  1. Jesika Says:

    well…i think may need a microscope to see everything!!! you dont mentioned which is most healthier? butter or margarine…is it butter?

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