Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butter me up, buttercup!

Before the days of margarine, people ate butter. They didn’t think twice about it. It was, along with milk and bread, a staple of their diet. When nutrition crept into the limelight, butter was cast aside due to its saturated fat content. It became one of the ‘foods to avoid’ in the quest to ward off heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and weight gain. We switched to margarine as a ‘healthier alternative’ but is marge really all that good for you? Let’s compare the two…

Made from churning cream that rises to the top of milk if it is allowed to set for some time. The churning process hardens the cream.

Free from trans-fats
Free from toxic metals
Rich in natural fatty acids
Rich in fat-soluble vitamins: ADEK
Contains no casein or lactose

Chemically-extracted refined vegetable oil. The oil is extracted at a high temperature (and damaged as a result) and hardened by bubbling hydrogen through it at a high heat.

Refined, treated product
Contains trans-fats
Contains toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium
Contains colourings and other toxic additives and by-products
Contains no vit E (destroyed in heating process)

Note: Trans-fats trigger inflammation in the body. They increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Butter vs Margarine
Our approach is to go for the natural unrefined option, butter, and to use it in moderation. If you can, opt for raw butter! We also suggest enjoying healthy oils alongside butter – olive oil on bread or with veggies/fish, coconut oil as an excellent substitute for butter in cooking. If you do opt for marge, read the label very carefully. Some are better than others! Keep an eye out for additives, preservatives (aka the nasties) and check the trans-fat and sat fat content.

1. Lawrence Wilson MD, Centre for Development, March 2011
2. Harvard Health ‘Health Beat’, June 2006

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