So, hopefully you haven't spent a significant portion of your life eating been eating margarine instead of butter because you were led to believe that margarine is more "heart-healthy" than the real stuff. Hopefully you haven't spent a significant portion of your life eating margarine instead of butter because of the taste, either (HA! HA HA HA!). Point is, hope you haven't been eating margarine! Because guess what?
Decades of deceptive marketing to the contrary, margarine isn't actually better for your heart than butter. In fact, the opposite is true -- according to a "recent" study. Which was conducted decades ago. Confused yet? Allow me to explain.
Apparently there's only been one "randomized, controlled study" ever conducted for the purpose of studying increased consumption of the partially hydrogenated oils used in margarine -- and for some reason, while this study took place almost five decades ago, researchers were only able to access the previously unpublished data recently. The data revealed that while people who switched from butter to margarine DID see a drop in cholesterol, they also turned out to be MORE likely to die from cardiovascular or coronary heart disease. Whoops. That disturbing factoid wouldn't have looked very nice printed on the side of a margarine tub! No wonder it went "unpublished" for so long.
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Of course, the info was still out there in other forms. I haven't eaten margarine ... ever, really, because I was raised eating most all-natural foods and the holistic/alternative health community never really trusted the butter substitute. According to Harvard researcher Dr. Walter Willett, the "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils used to make margarine ... are responsible for more than 30,000 of the country's annual deaths from heart disease."
Why is the stuff so lethal? Willett explains (and this is kind of wordy, but you NEED to know the details so just read it!):
"Heat and chemicals used to harden vegetable oils into margarine change fatty acids into unnatural shapes, called trans-fatty acids (TFAs). Bent into the trans-shape, the acids won't fit neatly into cell membranes or other cellular structures. If the body tries to incorporate them anyway, the cell may become deformed. As a result, trans-fatty acids not only contribute to heart disease, but may also increase cancer risks, promote inflammation and accelerate tissue degeneration."
Yikes! I can't believe (people ate that instead of) butter!
Did you know that margarine was so much worse than butter?
Image via Taryn/Flickr