Butter Vs Margarine

So the other night, I was on the couch relaxing and watching some TV with hubby (read - staring mindlessly in front of me because I now can't remember the show or channel I was watching, but in all likelihood it was probably something to do with cooking) when an ad came on that absolutely horrified me.

It was an ad for Meadow Lea margarine and the catch of the ad was a little girl walking and carrying a lump of 'fat' and saying "gee, I'm glad my mum made the switcheroo from butter to Meadow Lea".  

I was in shock.  

Firstly, completely wrong and misleading information.

Secondly, what sort of message are we trying to send to kids who are at an impressionable age and should not be worrying about what makes us fat (the little girl in the ad would be no more than 7-8 years old?), especially as butter is not the food that will be 'making her fat' and we have enough body issue problems created by the media as it is!

This is just blatantly irresponsible. 


Image courtesy of pinterest

I posted my outrage on my facebook page Naughty Naturopath Mum and the response I received was overwhelming. All of my likers were in agreement with me and hated the ad as much as I.  

One of my liker's comments made me sad and then happy.  She has two little girls, one of them said "oh no mummy, will butter make us fat?"

Her sister replied before mum could "No, margarine gives you cancer, butter is better."  

Now I'm not wanting to be a sensationalist but she might be right.

Butter is better than margarine but let's look at why.


So first, lets look at butter.

It is a real food.  It is made from cow's milk and the only thing added to the churning process of cream into organic butter is salt.  Yes, it contains saturated fat, and back in the 50's people started to wig out about the fact that too much saturated fat can cause heart disease.

So enter margarine, a spreadable chemical version of butter that had to be coloured yellow (from grey) so people would be comfortable using it.  They unfortunately overlooked the trans fat issue which we are very much more aware of today and which I will expand on further down.

"Then the hazards of margarine came to light. Its high levels of trans fats packed a double whammy for heart disease by raising levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Many people felt betrayed or duped.

The truth is, there never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Making the switch was a well-intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter, but it overlooked the dangers of trans fats."

Excerpt from Harvard University Health site, to read full argument click here.


Think of a tub of margarine as a big block of trans fat — hydrogenated oil helps liquid oils to be solid at room temperature, and is a key ingredient in margarine. Trans fat adversely affects both bad (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL), as well as increasing triglycerides, lipoprotein, and inflammation.

 This sets people up for the common health issues of today - heart disease, arthritic conditions, auto-immune issues, poor cognitive function and mental illnesses and the list goes on.


Now my argument for butter over margarine is also vindicated by the fact that in today's age, we have genetically modified ingredients starting to appear in our 'foods'. Plant crops around the world (mostly in America at this stage) are being genetically modified to enable farmers to grow more, harvest faster and use less pest control (good for the farmers, not so good for us).

And what oils (that have been hydrogenated, therefore making them a trans fat) are used to make these margarine spreads? Canola, Soybean, Corn and Sunflower oils.  Guess which plants are among the highest GM crops?

You guessed it!

Those I just mentioned above. Scientific studies have shown that rats fed a diet of genetically modified plants such as these grew tumors.  This is a study done with a control group of rats under the very same conditions apart from diet, and they did not grow tumors.  To read an article on this study, click here.  



Fortunately, we have come a long way since the fear of 'fat making us fat' of the 1950's and the real culprits of today's society's health issues are coming to light - Trans fats and sugar.

The fact that fat was taken out of our foods and replaced by hydrogenated oils and sugar (to replace flavour that fat provided) has shown with time that obesity, auto-immune issues and heart disease have been steadily increasing.

Some health experts have known this for a long time but now their voices are louder and more prevalent and we as a society are taking more notice

.   Image

Image courtesy of pinterest


The above picture is of Sally Fallon and she is holding one of my favourite books "Nourishing Traditions".

She is of the same opinion, that I am vouching for now, and her book was published in 1999 and was a text for me during my Naturopathy studies, which I commenced in 1997.

Good timing for me as I was on her bandwagon as soon as this book was devoured!

Fast forward to today, mainstream society, science and medical doctors are understanding it is not 'fat' making us fat but sugar and trans fats (which coat our cell walls in a hard layer turning them from a semi-permeable membrane that is used to pass nutrients back and forth to a wall that nothing gets through therefore not being able to take in vital nutrients from our food into our cells or expel waste product properly).

Australians who have gained popularity by researching and publishing this lately and who you might want to check out for for further reading are:

Cyndi O'Meara Nutritionist and founder of Changing habits, Changing Lives

Christine Cronau Nutritionist and author of The Fat Revolution Series

David Gillespie author of Sweet Poison


Ok, enough about sugar and what's making us 'fat'.  

Back to Butter vs Margarine one more time.

This is how margarine is made in a factory.


For a recipe to make your own butter at home from two ingredients, click here

For Quirky Jo's thermomix recipe to make butter from pure cream, click HERE.

When buying butter, look for organic and grass fed which is now available in all major supermarkets and healthfood stores because... butter is back baby!

Below is my very favourite butter when I'm not making my own - Pepe Saya's Cultured butter......mmmmmmm!


For those needing alternatives to both butter and margarine, I suggest:

- avocado

- nut butters

- extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil/butter (you can even refrigerate cubes of these oils in an ice tray to use as needed)

- a good home-made hummus


And if the 'easy spread' idea of margarine is what keeps you buying it, simply blend your organic butter with extra virgin olive oil or macadamia oil at home in a thermomix, blender or food processor.

Just start adding the oil into the cut up pieces of butter, little by little until you have your desired consistency and store in a glass dish .

Bang. Spreadable butter from the fridge.

And to conclude, I will use the words of Julia Child - "Butter makes everything taste better"



Yours in health,

Alisha x

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