Fair warning, this is a rant!
If you have been following this blog, you know I am all about real and natural foods. I cringe at the idea of producing something fake to substitute for the genuine product. That accounts for the subject of this rant, butter vs margarine. Do you know the difference between the two? Both have the same amount of calories with butter being slightly higher in saturated fats, 8 grams compared to 5 grams. According to a Harvard Medical Study conducted a few years ago, eating margarine can increase heart disease in women 53% over eating the same amount of butter. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in foods as well. It has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added during the manufacturing process. We probably all agree butter tastes much better and it enhances the flavor of other foods. Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has existed for less than 100 years.
Now for margarine:
- Very high in trans fatty acids
- Triple risk of coronary heart disease
- Increases total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Lowers HDL cholesterol (good kind)
- Increases risk of cancers by up to five fold
- Lowers the quality of breast milk
- Decreases immune response
- Decreases insulin response
If that is not enough to convince you, here is the most interesting part. Most margarines are but one molecule away from being PLASTIC! This fact alone was enough to get me running away from margarine and keep me away for life. This goes for anything else that is hydrogenated, meaning the molecular structure is changed by adding hydrogen.
Try this experiment. Purchase a tub of margarine (I suggest doing it on the sly so your friends won’t see you), leave it in your garage or in a shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note several 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 not even those teeny-weeny micro-organisms will find a home to grow. Why? It is nearly plastic! Would you even think about melting your Tupperware and spreading it on your toast? If you use margarine, that is close to what you are doing.
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. That’s it! Pure and simple it has no artificial ingredients. Cultured unsalted butter, which is what I use for cooking (organic, of course), achieves rich butter taste by introducing a live culture and slowly ripening the cream. European butter which has become very popular among chefs, has more intense flavor because it is higher in butterfat, around 82-83%, compared to American which is around 80%. More butterfat = richer flavor.
Rendering, produces clarified butter or ghee which is frequently used in Indian cuisine. It is almost entirely butterfat as the milk solids have been removed. Once when I was teaching my class about clarifying butter I had a student asked me if you can clarify “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”. Clarified practically plastic? Never tried it but feel quite certain the answer is a loud and absolute NO!!! You must use real butter!
So, my friends, fear not. Use real butter as the French do and enjoy a long and healthy life. Real food is good food. Do not be fooled by the imposters!