I used to eat lots of margarine before I know what real food is. I generously spread it on bread, used it for cooking and baking. Many people have also replaced butter with margarine because they are afraid of the fat content in butter. But do you really know what margarine is made of?
Unlike butter, which is derived from milk fat or cream, margarine is chemically processed through hydrogenation from refined polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower, soybean, safflower, or cottonseed oil. It is full of bad oils! Hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation creates the harmful trans fats. Margarine is also high in omega-6 fatty acids, and if you don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish, the imbalance ratio will cause even more health problems such as inflammation. Margarine actually provokes chronic high levels of cholesterol and has been linked to both heart disease and cancer. Even the new soft margarine or tub spreads that are lower in partially hydrogenated fats than their predecessors are still produced from rancid vegetable oils and contain many additives.
A quick look at the label will tell you margarine is made from vegetable oil blend, mono and deglycerides, soy lecithin, potassium sorbate, coloring, artificial flavor, citric acid, and so on. It's not real food! Don't be misguided by margarines with "zero trans fat" labels, it just means there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving (1 tablespoon). But who uses just 1 tablespoon? It's likely that we use more and we are consuming trans fat more than we know.
As we have learned in our fat series, it is better to choose butter instead.
What's so good about butter?
Butter has a perfect fatty acid profile. Most of the fats in butter are saturated or monounsaturated, making it very stable for cooking at a relatively high temperatures and it will not break down. Although the best would be to get raw butter from grass-fed cows as it retains the most nutrients, but they are most likely unavailable, especially here in Singapore. The best option is to buy pasteurized butter from pasture-fed cows. When cows are kept in barns and given dry feed, the amount of vital fat-soluble vitamins is greatly diminished.
Butter from pasture-fed cows contains:
- A unique short-chain saturated fatty acid that is antifungal and has antitumor effects.
- The right amount and the perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 acids.
- Provides palmitoleic acid, a momounsaturated fatty acid that has antimicrobial properties and is key for communication between cells.
- Selenium, a trace mineral with antioxidant properties.
- Butterfats (like the fats in meat and egg yolks) also contains many trace minerals, including manganese, zinc, chromium, copper, selenium, and iodine.
Adding butter to our diet will help ensure proper assimilation of the minerals and water-soluble vitamins in the vegetables, grains, and meat we eat - and also make our food satisfying and great-tasting.
Click here to see where you can purchase butter from grass-fed cows in Singapore.
That said, it is not easy to avoid margarine completely especially if we eat out often, so choose your food wisely. And if it's at all possible, eat out less and cook more at home.
If you consume margarine regularly, would you then considering switching to butter? What are your considerations?