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Is Margarine or Butter Better?

By Randi Morse

Our house recently became a bit of a war zone when my teenage daughter decided that she wanted to have real butter in the house instead of eating margarine. I'm no stranger to real butter because, when I grew up, it was the only type of butter we had in the house. When I got my own house, I decided to give margarine a try and found that I enjoyed the taste and the easy spreading ability of this butter substitute. I'd also heard that margarine was better for you than butter is. Is that really true?

Breaking Down Margarine

One of the tricky things about breaking down margarine is that each margarine is created differently. Some margarine has a great deal of trans fat while other margarine has less. Margarine is created using vegetable oil. This means that it has what dietitians like to call unsaturated healthy fats. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are known to help reduce bad cholesterol, or the LDL cholesterol, in your body. How can you tell if your brand of margarine has more trans fat in it than others? You can actually tell with just a quick look. The more solidified the margarine is, the more trans fat it generally has. This means that stick margarine generally has more trans fat in them than tub margarine. 

Breaking Down Butter

Margarine is made from vegetable oil but butter is made from animal fat. Butter is created using, in most places, bovine milk. Large corporations transport thousands of gallons of milk per day in order to transform it into butter. Because butter is natural it has natural saturated fats in it. There is current research being done to determine if products that are high in naturally saturated fats contribute to cardiovascular disease or not, but we currently don't have enough information to determine how true this is. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you're trying to stay healthy, think about switching to extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has been found to be extremely heart healthy as it contains healthy fats. I tend to use only extra virgin olive oil in my skillet at home because it tastes great and is healthier for us, and also because it creates a nice sear or crust on anything I use it with. 

So which is the better option, margarine or butter? There isn't currently enough research to determine whether one option is a significantly better health choice than another. A good rule of thumb is to enjoy whichever one you prefer but to do it in moderation.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Murphy, Tex.

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