General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Which is ultimately healthier, butter or margarine?

Asked by tinyfaery (42908points) July 8th, 2008

Some people say the saturated fat in butter is worse than the hydrogenated oils in margarine. Others say the opposite. And when I say healthier, I guess I mean in regards to weight, heart disease, etc.

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23 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Margerines that contain transfats, which most of them did before the latest information came out about those, are very bad for you, as is any tranfsat.

“When margarine was first introduced to the marketplace, it was loaded with trans fats. The trans fats were created through hydrogenation – the very 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.”

As to saturated fat, the very low-fat diets of the 80s (Dr. Dean Ornish) have been discredited. It is best to use fat in moderation.

shilolo's avatar

Marina, good answer, except for the last part about Dean Ornish. It is absolutely not true that his low fat and cholesterol diets have been discredited. Dean Ornish’s reversal diet does work, but the majority of people can’t follow it due to its extreme measures.

PupnTaco's avatar

Butter is better, same way that sugar is healthier than high-fructose corn syrup.

Food was better before scientists got in the kitchen. (no offense to science)

BirdlegLeft's avatar

I’m sticking to butter and moderation. I guess only time will tell how wise my decision is.

surlygirl's avatar

quote from link : Butter from grass-eating cows contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, a substance that has been shown to improve a number of metabolic factors, including insulin resistance and cholesterol. In addition, it is a potent anti-cancer substance.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

If I may suggest an alternative, I would suggest using neither butter nor oleo/margarine and instead switch to olive oil. Sure, you might miss the creamy goodness, but olive oil is far healthier and I think tastes soooo much better. I wouldn’t recommend it for a cake recipe though…

surlygirl's avatar

i stay away from butter/oils in general. sadly, my weakness for baked goods gets the better of me every time! i’m still struggling with vegetarian baking-it seems so strange!

marinelife's avatar

@shilolo If hardly anyone can follow it and live that way, what good is it?

Also, I think some studies have shown some danger of diets too low in fat. For example, “In addition to studies quoted in our newsletters, another interesting one (Am. Journal Dis. Child. 143, 59: 537–542, 1989) reveals that a low fat diet can cause growth failure in children. The children, originally diagnosed as having a genetic form of high cholesterol, were on a very low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. The result was dwarfing in some and insufficient weight gain and lack of normal growth in other children.”

Or another: “Whether a low-fat diet is good or bad often depends on your genetic makeup, says Ronald Krauss, M.D., at the University of California in Berkeley. “As much as one-third of the population may react adversely to a very-low-fat diet,” increasing their risk of heart disease, says Krauss.”

writerini's avatar

Butter. Definitely.

boffin's avatar


artificialard's avatar

Is there a difference between spreadable butter and stick butter? Which one’s healthier?

sccrowell's avatar

BUTTER!! That is all I use. Its nothing for me to use a cube for dinner alone. It may not be good for my health but it sure taste good to my tummy!

skfinkel's avatar

Butter. Better for you. And tastes so good!

scamp's avatar

I eat butter only. But I limit how much I eat, because neither is really good for you. Here is some interesting reading on the subject.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@artificialard: typically spreadable butter is better because it is often softened with canola oil, which is high in poly- and mono-unsaturated fats (ie good for you fat) but canola oil is not what is always used.

You should always read food labels to find out, especially fats and oils, avoid hydrogenated oils, as these contain transfat (ie bad for you) and look for healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil.

allengreen's avatar

one cannot burn fat without oils. those who remove oils from their diets are compounding their problems.

Olive oil, flax oil’s are great for your health, physical and mental.

shilolo's avatar

@Allen. I think you are a little bit confused. So-called “fat” is the same basic chemical as “oil”. Both olive oil and flaxseed oil consist of fatty acids, the same chemical that makes up “fat”. Also, from a physiologic standpoint as well, there is no truth to your statement “one cannot burn fat without oils”. There are only two essential fatty acids, and they come from plants, but olive oil and flaxseed oil are not required. They may be tasty, and healthy, but in general, are not necessary.

allengreen's avatar

i stand corrected, thank you

piratejenny's avatar

butter! or nut oils (coconut, sesame). studies aside, i like to choose the least processed option; i make many foods from scratch, and butter is a cinch—just over-whip some cream!—but can anybody make corn or soybean oil in their kitchen? and even if you could, how do you hydrogenate it into margarine? vegetable oil might not be as healthy as we have been led to believe; mary enig & sally fallon have some very interesting books on the subject. also, look into eating more alkaline-forming foods if you’re concerned about cholesterol; some studies suggest that diets high in acid-forming foods “pit” the interior of the arteries, making it easier for plaque to stick, and that lowering intake of cholesterol doesn’t always lower cholesterol levels.

JLeslie's avatar

This questions implies to me that you are wondering the effects of butter or margerine on cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood regarding heart health. If you have high cholesterol butter is bad in my opinion…not that margerine is good. I have high cholesterol…it is 270 (i’ll use totals and round figures) if I eat whatever I want. It is 225 if I cut out egg yolks and obvious bad things like desserts, and walk three times a week for 30 minutes, but otherwise eat what I normally would. One time I ate less than 50 mg daily of cholesterol for 10 days and it went down to 212.

Generally what I believe is if your cholesterol is HIGH your body does not recognize the cholesterol you eat and your body continues to produce cholesterol at the same rate as if you did not eat it. People with normal levels of cholesterol have a better regulating mechanism. I think you have to evaluate yourself as an indivual…if you are worried about fats and cholesterol get a blood test, eat butter only for two weeks and get another test and see what result you get (or margerine only or whatever you are curious about) no need to guess.

I am not a doctor, just sharing the clinica findings I found on myself and my own theories on the subject.

Kraigmo's avatar

I’ve talked to Udo Erasmus, the author of Fats & Oils, about this. And he says butter is far healthier than margarine. And ghee is healthier than butter.

johanna's avatar

@PupnTaco Sugar and high fructose corn syrup both consist of fructose and glucose. Same same. One is not healthier than the other – the difference is how the molecules are bound (in sugar) or not (HFCS) together. Once in the stomach they all break down and do exactly the same thing to the body. One doesn’t make you fatter than the other – it only depends on how much you consume.

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