BUTTER OR MARGARINE - THE DEBATE!
Are spreads a cheap tasteless substitute to butter or a healthy alternative?
Most people prefer the taste of butter but think that spreads are healthier for them. This thinking is encouraged in most modern diets where butter is a villain and spreads are king!! So what should you choose for your lunchtime sandwich – here are some facts to help you make your choice.
It is true that butter is very high in saturated fat (54%) and saturated fat can cause damage to blood vessels and result in high cholesterol. However butter is a natural food and has a great taste. Butter is made from whole milk through a churning process and consists mainly of the milk fat, of which 66% is saturated. Consequently butter is fairly high in calories (100KCals per tablespoon) and it’s also high in cholesterol and this is where butter gets its bad name. However, although saturated fat does indeed raise bad cholesterol, it does also raise good cholesterol too and good cholesterol can protect against heart disease. Butter also contains Vitamin A (good for eyesight and skin), Vitamin D (essential for growth and development), and, as already stated, is a completely natural food.
Spreads or margarines are ‘man made’ and compared to butter are lower in saturated fat (15% approximately) and higher in polyunsaturated fat (the ‘good fats’) which protect the heart. However some spreads are not at all good as they contain another type of fat called, ‘trans fat ‘which may raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol and therefore can cause heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, the good news is that manufacturers have started to successfully reduce the amount of ‘trans fats’ in spreads.
So in reality they are both potential villains, however we have already identified that spreads contain much less cholesterol and saturated fat than butter and tend to be lower in calories. On this evidence alone spread must be the preferred alternative to butter with regard to protecting your health especially since they contain a lot less trans fats than they used to.Furthermore when polyunsaturated oils are added to them they become both healthy and tastier and it is on the basis of these facts that spreads get their good name.
So in conclusion, it may be true that a great tasting spread may be the preferred alternative to butter with regard to protecting your health, but if you really do prefer butter, our advice would be to eat it in moderation.