Why would anyone think that replacing butter (which is rich in important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and the minerals magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium) with margarine was ever a good idea? Butter was considered ‘bad’ due to the fat it contains being saturated which was once considered the fat that caused artery blockage and heart attacks.
Despite being a staple that can be used across menus in a number of ways, the confusion between the two products remains. Some of the more tangible differences are quite obvious; one is harder than the other and they have different tastes and textures. It is when we dig deeper beyond what is apparent to the eye and taste buds that the debate is less clear. Which option is the healthiest and do they really deliver different tastes and textures when utilised as part of the cooking process?
Margarine was created in the 1800s as a cheaper alternative to butter. While margarine was originally made from animal fat, in more recent years, the product has been transformed into a dairy-free option with these dairy-based ingredients being replaced by vegetable oil, water, salt and emulsifiers. These vegetable oils (usually sunflower oil) that are refined, bleached, filtered, deodorised and artificial colours and flavourings are added. This processed mess is then turned into a spreadable form by a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation turns the liquid oil into a solid form. Vegetable oils are not naturally solid at room temperature.
The hydrogenation process is now proven to be worse for heart disease than saturated fat! This is simply because the vegetable oil is now ‘transformed’ into dangerous trans- fats that are not well absorbed by the body, so they tend to accumulate in the arteries, triggering an increased risk of serious heart issues.
Butter is all natural and a much healthier alternative to margarine. Trust the cows, not the chemists…
However, it should just be used in moderation OR if you want an even healthier ‘spread’ on your bread, try fresh avocado or NOTHING!
Make healthy food choices – until next week!