Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Butter vs. Margarine

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll posing the question “which do you prefer butter vs. margarine?”, and the overwhelming response (from the 10 or 12 of you that voted), was that butter was the spread of choice in your homes. My good friend Lisa sent this email to me, which had been emailed to her from our good friend Michael, which had come to him via email from an unknown source, as so many interesting facts do, emphatically supporting that butter is better.
Here is the email:

Pass the butter. Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do withthis product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no foodappeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use inplace of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clevernew flavorings. DO YOU KNOW...the difference between margarine and butter? Read on to the end...gets very interesting!

  • Both have the same amount of calories.
  • Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.

  • Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.

  • Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added!

  • Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.

  • Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.
And now, for Margarine..!
  • Very high in trans fatty acids.

  • Triple risk of coronary heart disease.

  • Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

  • Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.
    Lowers quality of breast milk.

  • Decreases immune response.

  • Decreases insulin response.

And here's the most disturbing fact.... HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERYINTERESTING. Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC..This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added,changing the molecular structure of the substance).You can try this yourself: Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things: no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something) It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Compelling stuff ... except that most of it is not true.

Margarine was not developed as a turkey fattener. Margarine was developed by a French man, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries in 1869 at the request of the King of France (Napolean III), who was looking for a substitute to butter. It does however contain polyunsaturated fat which can reduce both your good and your bad cholesterol and has been linked to colon cancer.

As far as the chemical properties being just one molecule different than plastic, this statement is really inconsequential. “Plastic” does not refer to a specific chemical compound but any number of chemical compounds which may have a myriad of inferences. The definition of “Plastic” simply means a compound which is malleable and can be molded into a shape. Both margarine and butter can do that. In that sense, they are both plastic. Many things are molecularly close to others, but that does not make them the same thing.

So the verdict is this: both butter and margarine are bad for you. Butter is high in saturated fats, which boils down to cholesterol, however, I believe that butter in moderation is better for you than margarine, simply because it is a natural, unprocessed product, and it sure tastes good. However, if you consider products like Benecol, Smart Balance or some the new Olive Oil spreads those are probably better for you in the long run than butter, but given that choice I would simply turn to Olive Oil, a truly good fat that can lower your bad cholesterol and help to raise your good.

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