Butter vs. Margarine – Which is Better for Your Heart?

What is Butter?

Butter is the product obtained by churning milk or cream. After churning, the milk solids constitute the butter, while the liquid is the buttermilk. Butter is conventionally prepared from cow’s milk, although it can also be prepared from the milk of other animals such as buffaloes, goat, sheep, and even yak. The color of butter is usually light yellow, although this can vary with the source animal from which the milk is obtained. Since butter is an animal fat, it is high in cholesterol and saturated fats, which is bad for the heart. One tablespoon of butter contains 30mg cholesterol and 7g saturated fat (total daily fat intake should be no more than 15g). Therefore, butter should be consumed sparingly.

Butter vs. Margarine
Butter vs. Margarine

What is Margarine?

Margarine is a substitute for butter. It is not a dairy product. So, it does not contain any animal fat. It is made from vegetable oil, water, salt, and other additives. Since there is no animal fat, margarine is low in saturated fatty acids. On the other hand, it contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are healthy fats. This is a plus-point for margarine over butter. However, the flip-side of margarine is that it contains trans-fats, which are extremely harmful. However, nowadays companies are slowly lowering the trans-fat content in margarine, and some varieties do not contain any trans-fats at all. This underscores the need to carefully check the nutritional information on the display panel of the package.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Butter contains approximately 80% fat, while margarine contains only 35% fat. Butter and margarine are usually used for the same purpose, such as a bread-spreads, cooking and baking. However, butter and margarine are quite different in many aspects. The major factor is their chemical composition, of which the most important being the type of fat content. Moreover, since butter is made from animal fat, while margarine is made from vegetable oil, this influences the taste, texture, and palatability of the products. For this reason, butter is tastier than margarine.

Which is Better for Your Heart?

It is important to limit the intake of saturated fats and to avoid trans-fats altogether. It should be noted that margarine containing trans-fats lower the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol and raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, thereby increasing the risk for coronary heart disease. However, nowadays, margarine is available that is fortified with plant sterols and stanols (collectively called phytosterols). Margarine with phytosterols are capable of reducing the levels of LDL, and therefore, can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases (Kozłowska-Wojciechowska et al., 2003). Moreover, if margarine-containing stanol/sterol esters are consumed regularly, it reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels that allow the reduction of the dose of cholesterol-lowering medicines (Vorlat et al., 2003).

Tonstad et al., (2001) found that margarine designed to meet nutritional recommendations for patients with high cholesterol are more efficacious than butter in reducing LDL levels thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (deposition of cholesterol of the walls of the arteries). Another study (Judd et al., 1998) found that consumption of margarine improved the levels of lipoproteins when compared with butter, therefore greatly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, from the foregoing discussion, it appears that margarine is better for your heart than butter.

How Can We Help?

Arbro Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. has NABL accredited and FSSAI approved laboratories with state-of-the-art instruments as well as highly trained technicians. The fat content of food samples, including that of butter and margarine, is carried out regularly with utmost precision.

If you would like to use our testing services, please feel free to contact us through the contact form or call us now on +91-11-45754575. We will be happy to provide you with a proposal for the estimation of the chemical composition of fats in various types of food samples, including butter and margarine.

References

  1. Which spread is better for my heart – butter or margarine? Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/butter-vs-margarine/faq-20058152
  2. Kozłowska-Wojciechowska M, JastrzȩbskaM, NaruszewiczM, Foltyńska Impact of margarine enriched with plant sterols on blood lipids, platelet function, and fibrinogen level in young men. Metabolism 2003; 52(11): 1373-1378. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0026-0495(03)00286-5
  3. Vorlat A, Conraads VM, Vrints CJ. Regular use of margarine-containing stanol/sterol esters reduces total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and allows reduction of statin therapy after cardiac transplantation: preliminary observations. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2003; 22(9): 1059-1062. PMID: 12957617.
  4. Tonstad S, Strøm EC, Bergei CS, Ose L, Christophersen B. Serum cholesterol response to replacing butter with a new trans-free margarine in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis.2001; 11(5): 320-326. PMID: 11887429
  5. Judd JT, Baer DJ, Clevidence BA, Muesing RA, Chen SC, Weststrate JA, Meijer GW, Wittes J, Lichtenstein AH, Vilella-Bach M, Schaefer EJ. Effects of margarine compared with those of butter on blood lipid profiles related to cardiovascular disease risk factors in normolipemic adults fed controlled diets. Am J Clin Nutr.1998; 68(4): 768-777. PMID: 9771853
  6. Butter vs. margarine. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/butter-vs-margarine

 

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