When you walk down the aisle of the nearest supermarket, you will spot a refrigerator decked with products such as cheese, milk, curd, butter, and margarine. Going through your mom’s grocery list, you pick two packets of cheese leisurely and add them to your overflowing cart. In a few minutes, you may get perplexed on seeing the yellow-colored twins–butter and margarine. This is why men usually refuse to go for a grocery run. 

Though butter and margarine look identical in color and texture, there are considerable dissimilarities between them. They differ in composition, making people confused about which one to go for. If you are puzzled about which one to stick to, here’s a detailed article about butter and margarine that will probably dispel your doubts.

What is butter?

Butter is a dairy product obtained by churning milk or cream. When milk is churned, the fat content separates as a solid, yellow substance, and is called butter. Typically, butter is found to be light yellow, but the color darkens depending on the animal’s diet. You can prepare home-made butter by easily churning the cow milk you receive at home. 

The nutritional breakdown of one tablespoon of unsalted butter is as follows:

  • 102 calories
  • 11.5 grams of fat
  • 7.17 grams of saturated fat
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates and sugar
  • 30.5 milligrams of cholesterol
  • Vitamin A, B12, E, and K

What is margarine?

Margarine is a non-dairy product obtained from hydrogenated vegetable oils. The vegetable oils include olive oil, flaxseed oil, and soya oil. Margarine was introduced as a substitute for butter for people who were bound to limit the intake of saturated fat. The polyunsaturated fats in margarine dwindle the bad, low-density (LDL) cholesterol.

Unlike butter, margarine cannot be prepared at home. Margarine has three distinct types namely, stick margarine, light margarine, and margarine with phytosterols.

Butter and margarine

The stick margarine contains fewer saturated fat than butter. The nutritional chart of stick margarine is listed below:

  • 102 calories
  • 11.5 grams of fat
  • 2.16 grams of saturated fat
  • 0 grams of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and sugar

Light margarine contains fewer calories and fats than stick margarine. The nutritional content of light margarine is as follows:

  • 50 calories
  • 5.42 grams of fat
  • 0.67 grams of saturated fat
  • 0 grams of trans fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and sugar

Some kinds of margarine possess a plant compound known as phytosterols, which are structurally similar to cholesterol. Being a blend of oils, it competes with cholesterol during absorption and reduces the levels of cholesterol in the body. Margarine with phytosterols may cause clogs in blood vessels despite lowering cholesterol levels. 

Health benefits of butter:

The health benefits of butter solely depend on the cow’s diet. Butter derived from grass-fed cows are highly nutritious in vitamins. It contains the following nutrients that have notable health benefits.

1. Conjugated Linoleic Acid:

Butter encompasses conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has surprising benefits on health. CLA has anticarcinogenic properties that diminish the growth of cancer cells in the colon, prostate, stomach, and liver. CLA helps to decrease body fat. It also enhances the immune system and prevents inflammation.

2. Vitamin K2: 

Butter contains a rare vitamin called Vitamin K2 that prevents heart diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer. It primarily promotes bone health.

3. Butyrate:

Butter has a type of short-chain fatty acid called butyrate that improves digestive health and maintains electrolyte balance. Butyrate has anti-inflammatory properties to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease.

Risks of consuming butter:

Butter VS margarine

Butter contains high amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories that may deteriorate your health when taken in excess.

  • Saturated fat:

Over sixty percent of butter is made of saturated fat, and the rest is contributed by unsaturated fat and water. Studies haven’t proved how the Intake of saturated fat poses a threat to heart health. But, excessive intake of saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease as it increases the levels of bad, low density (LDL) cholesterol. On the contrary, polyunsaturated fat is proved to be less unhealthy.

  • Cholesterol and Calories:

Butter has high amounts of cholesterol that raise the body’s cholesterol levels. As the body produces required amounts of good cholesterol naturally, an increase in the intake of cholesterol-rich food leads to abnormally high cholesterol levels. This may lead to a heart vessel clog in the future, and finally a serious heart illness. 

A tablespoon of butter contains 102 calories. Though this sounds moderate, consuming too much butter may result in weight gain in a due course of time. 

Health benefits of margarine:

Margarine is considered healthier than butter as it contains zero cholesterol. The health benefits of margarine depend on the vegetable oils it constitutes and the process of manufacture. 

  • Polyunsaturated fat: 

Margarine has higher amounts of polyunsaturated fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, as it is made by the hydrogenation of vegetable oils. The number of polyunsaturated fats constituting margarine depends on the type of oil. Unlike saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats promote heart health. 

  • Phytosterols:

As margarine is obtained from plants, it contains phytosterols that lower the bad, low-density (LDL) cholesterol levels thus dwindling the total body cholesterol. 

Risks of consuming margarine:

Though margarine contains zero cholesterol and less saturated fats, it contains a considerable amount of trans fat that is unhealthy for a healthy heart. 

As vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature, they are subjected to an industrial process called hydrogenation at high temperatures and high pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst and hydrogen gas. This converts some of the polyunsaturated fats into saturated fats, making margarine exist in the solid-state. This process gives a lot of trans fat as by-products. Consuming trans fat makes you prone to critical heart diseases and other chronic illnesses.

Butter VS Margarine

Butter VS margarine

“Is margarine healthier than butter?” is the common query regarding butter and margarine that countless people google for. While butter is derived from animal fat, margarine is made by emulsifying vegetable oils. 

Research says that consuming margarine is healthier than consuming butter for better heart health due to its limited amounts of saturated fats and zero cholesterol. Butter raises the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, whereas margarine lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol.

Since most hydrogenated margarine contains trans fats that are perilous to your health, it is wise to choose trans fat-free margarine from the store. 

Though margarine has its own merits over butter, butter outshines margarine when you need a spread for your bread toast or when you bake pie crusts, cakes, pastries, and cookies. Butter adds a rich flavor of vanilla to your cakes and cookies and gives you a luxurious mouthfeel. No wonder why Betty bought some butter and not margarine! 

We hope that you will be capable of distinguishing these yellow-colored twins when you visit the grocery this weekend.

Butter and margarine, or Orange and Tangerine,

Never will you forget the difference!