Both butter and margarine have been called into question for many years. With all the research done, we are all still on the fence when it comes to cooking with either one and which is better for heart health.
What is butter?
Butter is more natural than margarine as it has no artificial ingredients or preservatives. It is made from pure cream that has been separated from milk and agitated and contains animal fat globules, water and inorganic salts.
Butter unfortunately is higher in saturated fats and cholesterol. Using too much butter can lead to high cholesterol. Margarine on the other end contains higher levels of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats but high in trans fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good fats because they assist in lowering cholesterol levels.
This is where it becomes tricky. Up to this point, we all were taught that saturated fat is a high contributor to cholesterol and hence heart disease. Because of this, we were told to stay away from butter and opt for margarine as the healthier option.
This is where it gets interesting….
A recent study published in the Archives on Internal Medicine undertook a systematic review of every published medical study linking a wide variety of nutritional factors to heart disease and they have no evidence linking dietary intake of saturated fats with heart disease.
Grass fed butter though high in animal fat, is one of the richest source of vitamin K2 which is known to prevent arterial calcification which is a very strong predictor of cardiovascular disease. Unlike margarine, butter has plenty of natural vitamins that really will boost your immune system.
Used for cooking
It is important to know the smoke points of cooking oils. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and produce smoke. Once it is broken down, it is believed to contain a significant amount of free radicals which increase the risk of cancer. Butter is highly recommended for high heat cooking as it the most stable as compared to margarine and less likely to be damaged or oxidized. Butter’s smoke point is 350 degrees.
Ultimately, it really depends on your nutritional goals and how you intend to use it, but in short we rather go for butter as it is naturally occurring, minimally processed, stable, and they taste better. And not forgetting the health benefits of butter. When not over indulged, it actually helps prevent arterial calcification and boosts our immune system.
It really seems that butter is indeed the better choice.