Butter or Margarine – Which is the Healthier Option?

Withbutter getting a bad rap for it’s high fat and cholesterol content, margarine is slowly becoming a popular substitute. All things considered though, which is healthier – butter or margarine?

Butter or Margarine – Which is the Healthier Option?

The state of health today

Sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits and stress are all are responsible for an increase in health problems like diabetes, blood pressure and heart ailments. People as young as 25 to 35 years are undergoing angioplasty and bypass surgeries. With the diagnosis of these problems comes the search of healthier eating options. Indians are fond of eating and food that is high in taste, but sadly tasty food is often misconstrued as oily food.

The use of ghee, butter and margarine is popular while making delicacies like halwa, butter chicken etc., and also as part of daily breakfast. But which one is healthier – butter or margarine?

The nutritive composition of butter

Butter is an animal product made by churning fermented or fresh cream or milk. The mechanical rupture of the protein film that surrounds each fat globule in the cream allows the fat globules to coalesce. Butter formation is an example of breaking of an oil-in-water emulsion by agitation. Asbutter is an animal product, it contains 63% saturated fat and also has cholesterol. The daily cholesterol requirement for an adult is 200mg/day, of which 1 tablespoon butter provides 33mg cholesterol! Butter also contains fat soluble Vitamin A.

The nutritive composition of margarine

Margarine is a plant product made from vegetable oils. Soyabean or cotton seed oil is refined and hydrogenated to produce margarine. Hydrogenation is the process of conversion of liquid oil to solid plastic shortenings by addition of hydrogen. Due to the process of hydrogenation, margarine contains trans-fats. Trans-fats are man-made fats that increase bad cholesterol (LDL) like saturated fat, and reduce the good cholesterol (HDL). The more solid the margarine is at room temperature, the higher is the trans-fat content in it.

Butter or margarine?

Butter, on the one hand, has 2 cholesterol raising agents – saturated fat and cholesterol; margarine, on the other, has trans-fat which is equally unhealthy! So which one to choose?

The best way to decide is by reading the food label. These days, liquid margarine has lower trans-fat content, and hence is quite healthy. Manufacturers are now producing it with less than 0.5 grams trans-fat per serving. So do read the food label when picking up box of margarine! If you find the trans-fat levels low, it’s worth going for.

Of course, for those who love butter, having little butter once in a while is nothing to worry about!

Finally, a healthy diet with daily physical exercise and taking time out to relieve stress should be the mantra for healthy and disease-free living!

Written by Misha Sharma, Nutritionist

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Butter or Margarine – Which is the Healthier Option? is a post from: mDhil