Margarine is a generic term for butter substitutes, typically composed of vegetable oils. The difference between butter and margarine is, that butter is derived from animal fats (typically milk) and margarine is derived from plant fats (oils) and skim milk. The definition for margarine originally came from the legal definition for butter — both contained a minimum of 16% water and a minimum fat content of 80%. This was adopted by all major producers and became the industry standard. The basic method of making margarine is emulsification of a blend of pure vegetable oils with skim milk, chilling the mixture to solidify it and working it to improve the texture.
Three Main Types of Margarine are Common:
- Traditional margarines, which contain saturated fats, mostly made from vegetable oils.
- Blended margarines, high in mono or polyunsaturated fats, which are made from safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed, or olive oil.
- Hard, generally uncolored margarine for cooking and baking, commonly known as Shortening.
Nutrition Facts of Margarine:
Margarine has no cholesterol and has high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are healthy. However, it also has high levels of trans and saturated fats. The different kinds of margarine do make a difference in relation to its health value. Generally, solid margarine has more Tran’s fat than softer varieties. Those with plant sterols and stanols added can actually lower bad cholesterol levels. Look at the label for the level of cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat before choosing.
Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains no cholesterol. Margarine is also higher in "good" fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated — than butter is. These types of fat help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol, when substituted for saturated fat. Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat.
But not all margarines are created equal — and some may even be worse than butter. In general, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains — so stick margarines usually have more trans fat than do tub margarines. Like saturated fat, trans fat increases blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fat can lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol levels. Spreads such as Benecol and Promise Activ are fortified with plant stanols and sterols, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
When selecting a spread, be sure to check the Nutrition Facts panel and pay particular attention to the grams of saturated fat and trans fat. Look for products that have the lowest combined amount. Also, look for products with a low percent Daily Value for cholesterol. If you don't like the taste of margarine or don't want to give up butter completely, consider using whipped or light butter. Or look for products that are a blend of butter and olive or canola oil. Per serving, these products have less fat and calories than regular butter does. The important thing is to use them sparingly. 100 gms of regular margarine contain 622 calories, 70g of total fat from which 14g is saturated fat and 15g is transfat, sodium is 700mg.
Butter or Margarine, Which one is Better for my Health?
- BUTTER: Butter, as an animal fat, contains both saturated fats and cholesterol – the two dietary ingredients that increase blood cholesterol. Saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol (also known as "bad" cholesterol), which raises total blood cholesterol as well. Cholesterol in foods, on the other hand, has little effect on blood cholesterol in most people. But for some, even a little dietary cholesterol can cause a soar in blood cholesterol levels.
- MARGARINE: When margarine was first introduced to the marketplace, it was loaded with trans fats. The trans fats were created through hydrogenation – this process used to solidify liquid vegetable oil into a spread. Just like saturated fats, trans fats increase LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol). In recent years, food manufacturers and the general public began to realize the negative health effects of trans fats. As a result, manufacturers have created non-hydrogenated margarine, which is now widely available. Non-hydrogenated margarine contains no trans fat, and it's softer than the first-generation margarine stick. Instead of hydrogenating liquid vegetable oil, manufacturers now add a tiny amount of modified palm and palm kernel oil to enhance the spread ability of margarine, creating a soft margarine that's trans fatty acid free.
The Verdict ?
Both saturated fats and trans fats can raise total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Therefore, you should try to minimize the intake of both saturated fats and trans fats. When we add up the numbers, it's clear that butter contains more saturated fats and trans fat. And remember that butter also contains dietary cholesterol.