Butter versus Margarine
There are quite some differences between the 2 products. The biggest one being that you cannot make margarine in your own kitchen, but you can make butter in your own kitchen.
This is for me always a very important point. When I can make it in my own kitchen it's likely going to be more natural and with that more healthy than something that requires a factory and all kinds of chemical processes to be made.
Below I'll show you the differences by showing the ingredients. I'll keep it relatively simple, don't want to go too scientific. If you want more science on the topic you can no doubt find enough information online in scholarly articles and research papers.
When you look at the ingredient list of margarine, you see quite some ingredients and some of them really don't sound like food.
When I was recently in the supermarket I took some pictures of the ingredient lists of margarine. Below you see a 30% vegetable low fat spread
When I look at the ingredients one wonders what most of it means, but I'll break it down for you, so you can have a look and think on what you think about all of that.
The ingredient that is first in the list is in the product in the largest amount. The one last in the least is in there in the smallest amount.
There is water, we all know what that is. We need water, so we are good here, not a problematic ingredient.
The oils aren't the hardest to find either, they are in this spread rapeseed, sunflower, and palm.
They are all problematic. Rapeseed and sunflower are too high in omega 6 & 9 to be healthy for us. We need a good balance of omega 3, 6 & 9. These 3 upset that balance. The processing that needs to happen to make it into margarine is also damaging the fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids, which cause them to become very unhealthy. These type of oils should not be heated and we only need them in small amounts.
Furthermore there is palm oil in there. this is not organic and therewith usually unsustainably produced. Though the packaging says that the company is committed to sustainable palm oil. It's hard to find out where it comes from and whether what is written on the packaging actually results in it really being sustainable.
When it is sustainable then palm oil is a wonderfully healthy oil.
Modified starch is the third one. I have no idea which starch it is, that always makes me a bit weary as some starches are healthier than others.
What follows is salt. This is no doubt white salt, which has no minerals in it.
The emulsifiers are next on our list. Again very little information as to the origin of those.
Next is sunflower lecithin. Then a preservative which is potassium sorbate. Wikipedia tells us: "Potassium sorbate is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant" and "The maximal acceptable daily intake for human consumption is 25 mg/kg, or 1750 mg daily for an average adult (70 kg)" (1)
Those kind of warnings make me weary of wanting that in my food. Of course small amounts of most things aren't going to cause any harm. But generally speaking these kind of chemicals are not just in your margarine, so it all adds up.
The next ingredient is citric acid. That is in itself nothing to worry about as citric means that it is from citrus fruits (2). So it is the acid from citrus fruits, often lemon or lime acid as they have a higher concentration of citric acid in them. Some people are intolerant to it though.
Next in line is a natural flavouring. This can mean anything as it is not specified what is it.
Then there are vitamin A & D added. No explanation on which. There is for instance a difference between D2 and D3. D3 is the type of vitamin D that is for humans the better version as it requires no conversion.
The last ingredient is a colour. Carotenes (3). This is the colour that you find in carrots and other fruits and vegetables. This is to my opinion is safe additive.
This is the 45% vegetable spread. Contains almost the same ingredients as the low fat spread.
Do you know how butter (4) is produced? It's very easy actually. The cream of the milk is skimmed off. Then it is churned to butter. You can do that in your own kitchen. Have you ever ended up whipping cream and it became to clumpy? That is it. Then you are on your way to butter.
To make it more flavourful and keep longer you can use cream that is cultured. And it makes it healthier as well as the lactobacilli are helping improve your gut health. Some butters are cultured, some are not. It depends on where you live what the preference is.
On the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation there is a very good article on Why Butter is Better. It is a very good read.
The butters in the images below are butters that we as a family prefer using as they are of really good quality.
These 2 butters you can purchase at some British supermarkets, but not everywhere. There are some other brands that are good. Here are some examples of good butters that you can order from Amazon.
How do you feel about your choices now?
Will you change to using butter in stead of margarine?
Let me know in the comments below.
As I'm running a business I will talk about this bit as well.
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Health Coaching might be right up your alley, or Children's nutrition or Teenager nutrition. In case you are starting to introduce food to your baby then Introducing solids could be exactly what you want.