Margarine is cheaper (and easier) to spread than butter but since it’s made up of cheap vegetable oils like canola, and contains water, salt, emulsifiers, flavouring and colouring, it’s definitely not as beneficial for the body. The spread is extremely processed, so it remains solid at room temperature – and if you buy margarine in stick form it will have been hydrogenated in order to keep its shape and extend its shelf life. The hydrogenation process that margarine undergoes turns some of the oils into harmful trans fats, which increase levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. Trans fats or trans fatty acids (TFAs) are found in a wide variety of foods particularly fried or baked goods but due to their adverse effects on the body they should be avoided as much as possible.
Instead of cooking with margarine, there are healthier oils to opt for such as olive or avocado oil – but If you’re looking for a spread to soften up your bread, you’re better off going for butter. Though it’s relatively high in calories and saturated fat, research indicates that butter can have positive cardiovascular and metabolic benefits and a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that as it’s high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), it could improve glucose tolerance and lower obesity risk.
Butter is also rich in beneficial nutrients such as calcium and as recent research published in the American Journal of Nutrition shows that the saturated fats in butter aren’t linked to an increased risk of heart disease, we think it’s definitely a great alternative.