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Butter vs. Margarine: Which One is Healthier? By Shaanvhi Jayaram

Updated: May 26

Butter vs. Margarine: Which One is Healthier?

When it comes to heart health, choosing between butter and margarine has been a big debate. Butter is known for its rich taste and creamy texture, which comes from churned cream or milk. It also has a high content of saturated fats. On the other hand, margarine, a spread often used as a substitute for butter, is primarily made from vegetable or animal fats, offering a blend of oils made up of mostly unsaturated fat.


The Health Considerations

The health implications of choosing between butter and margarine revolve around the nature of fats they contain. Butter remains on the list of foods to use sparingly because of its high content of saturated fat. However, the classification of margarines is harder. While older stick margarines have been proven to be worse than butter, newer, low-saturated fat or trans fat-free margarines are considered acceptable in moderation. Trans fats, typically considered the worst type of fat to eat, were previously found in margarine, which sparked health concerns about its impact on heart disease. However, margarine in the U.S. now does not contain added trans fats. When opting for margarine, choosing variants with low levels of saturated fat, such as soft or liquid margarine, is recommended. Therefore, the decision between butter and margarine should align with one’s dietary needs, with an emphasis on limiting saturated fat intake and avoiding trans fats.


Exploring Healthier Options

However, numerous healthier alternatives are present. Avocado, olive oil, avocado oil, yogurt,

applesauce, bananas, nut butter, and pumpkin puree are good substitutes. By incorporating these alternatives into cooking and baking, it is possible to reduce saturated fat intake and enhance the nutritional value of meals. Moderation in the use of both butter and margarine, along with the incorporation of healthier alternatives, can help to strike a balance between flavor and nutrition.


1. “Butter Vs. Margarine: Which Is Better for My Heart?” Mayo Clinic, 1 Dec. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/butter-vs-margarine/faq-20058152


2. Cdces, Kathy W. Warwick Rdn. Is Margarine More Healthful Than Butter? 8 Jan. 2020,


3. Harvard Health. “Butter Vs. Margarine.” Harvard Health, 29 Jan. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/butter-vs-margarine

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