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Butter Vs Margarine – which one is better?

Zubin D’Souza

India probably has the cheapest internet rates in the world. For a fraction of your monthly earnings, you could be connected to the nasty worldwide internet family where you can disappear under tonnes of information.

The web is a brilliant place that is tinged with shades of nastiness. It has access to knowledge that can make your life easier but it simultaneously also contains data that may be wrong and yet put across in such a convincing manner that it may turn your life totally upside down.

My aunt is a doddering old lady who has recently been introduced to the world of WhatsApp. She called me one day with in a voice streaked with utter desperation.

She had consumed a tub of margarine; she was halfway through the second she received a message that pointed out that margarine was developed as a way to kill turkeys.

Although we know that Thanksgiving was probably developed to kill turkeys, there was no reasoning with the old lady.

She could actually imagine herself having transferred herself from her earthly abode to the space in the ethereal world reserved for deceased turkeys!

My aunt was terrified; my repeated assurances had no effect on her whatsoever. She was convinced that she was going to die.

At some point she would go to meet her maker but at that precise moment it was not going to be the margarine that did her in.

Ever since margarine was created, there has been a constant battle between dairy farmers and the manufacturers.

Each one has been trying to usurp the leading position from the other; each one trying to grab the other’s market share.

Butter and margarine each are required by their applicable laws to have 80 per cent of fat each.

So that is one issue out of the way.

They also taste similar which moves the second topic out of contention.

Nutritionally, it can be argued that they have similar values. They both contain roughly 100 calories in a tablespoon. All the calories come from fat and there are neither carbohydrates nor proteins in the mix.

When you boil it all down, there appears to be only one distinct issue.

The subject matter happens to be the type of fat contained within what you buy that really matters.

At various stages in the last hundred and fifty odd years, science has alternatively praised or dissed both of them. The praise or brickbats are always inversely proportionate.

When one rises, there are only lofty heights for them and their ilk. The fall from grace is also a harsh one that takes ages to recover from.

The popularity graphs for both butter and margarine look like roller coasters at the local amusement park.

Margarine has plant based fats as opposed to the animal fats that are required to manufacture butter.

Earlier margarine used to contain the extremely unhealthy and harmful trans fats but manufacturers have increasingly been diligent about reducing or totally eliminating them altogether.

Cardiologists initially claimed that margarine was better because being from vegetable sources; it contained the good fats – the unsaturated ones. These unsaturated fats are further divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and help in reducing the LDL or low density lipoprotein –the bad cholesterol.

In some cases margarines are fortified with plant stanols and sterols that have been scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol count.

Because butter is made out of animal fats, it could give a boost to your cholesterol levels to some very unhappy levels.

Recent studies conducted have proven that there is no correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease. This was a major boost to the butter industry but sceptics have continued to maintain their ‘no butter’ stance.

Adherents claim that butter is an all natural product that has the least amount of tampering while processing.

Butter also contains an anti-inflammatory fatty acid called CLA or conjugated lineolic acid that occurs in large concentrations in butters churned out of the milk of grass-fed cows.

Retinol in milk is a highly absorbable form of Vitamin A and apart from that milk also contains minerals, selenium and iodine.

There is not really much of a Margarine Vs Butter debate. They each have their strengths…..and their flaws.

The only thing that we can be certain about is that margarine wasn’t developed to kill turkeys!


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