The truth about margarine and why you should avoid it!

ButterMargarine is marketed as being a healthier choice than butter, when in actual fact it is much worse for our health. Not only does butter taste much better, but it is a natural product made only from milk while margarine is a completely man-made product loaded with chemicals and additives in such a way to resemble butter.

Margarine is made from something called a ‘trans-fat’. Trans-fats are found in very low levels naturally in the food chain and therefore we do not have a very good ability to break it down or digest it. It is now well proven that trans-fats are even worse than saturated fats. They affect cholesterol levels, increase the risk of diabetes, gall stones, and inflammation. Consumption is now associated with an increased risk of heart disease! So please throw your cholesterol lowering margarines straight into the bin.

A trans-fat is produced using a process called hydrogenation. This is the process that turns a ‘good oil’ (healthy plant based oil) into a fat that is solid at room temperature– like butter.

To produce margarine, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils-soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, and mix them with tiny metal particles-usually nickel oxide. The oil is then subjected to high temperatures. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency. The oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures (thousands of degrees) to get a chemical change to the structure of the fat which turns it into a solid. This turns it rancid and it needs to be steam-cleaned to remove its unpleasant odour. Margarine’s natural colour, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong flavours must then be added to turn it yellow and make it resemble butter.

Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as a ‘healthy food’! This does not sound like something that should be put into our bodies to me. From start to finish, the manufacture of margarine is artificial and highly processed and creates a product completely man-made. Of course the food industry would like you to believe that it is a healthier choice than butter, but this is untrue. Above is a popular picture that I often see pop up on various social media sites- even insects can tell that it is not real food that is supposed to be ingested!

So what should you use? Good quality, organic butter in moderation will taste better. If you don’t want to consume dairy or are worried about the fat content of butter there are other options for you. Try using hommus, avocado or tahini as a spread on bread. Or dip your bread in cold pressed olive oil like the Europeans. Use rice bran oil or coconut oil for frying. Butter and coconut oil are much better options over margarine in baking.

Hayley Stockbridge Naturopath Sydney

For more information or to make an appointment with Hayley please call reception on 02 9518 0722