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Turns Out Margarine Is Way Worse for Your Heart Than Butter

by Jacqueline Burt on February 6, 2013 at 9:32 PM

margarineSo, 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some reason, while this study took place almost five decades ago, researchers were only able to access the previously unpublished data recently.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 No wonder it went "unpublished" for so long.

More from The Stir: Guilt-Free Baking Trick: Use Avocado in Place of Butter

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

Filed Under: eating habits, eating healthy, general health, natural health


  • Flori...


    February 6, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Duh. Old news.

  • Venae


    February 6, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Grew up eating margarine.  Switched when I read a label - ever done that?  Butter's ingredients are cream and salt.  Margarine's ingredients are chemicals.  Nothing tastes like butter.  It's the reason my kids love vegetables - 'cause they've got butter on them!

  • douxm...


    February 6, 2013 at 10:27 PM
    Turns out....... Uh, duh.
  • The80s


    February 6, 2013 at 10:55 PM
    Yes. Ever since my daughter developed CHF when she was 5, we had to keep her off of salt so her heart wouldn't enlarge. The fact has been known long before she was born anyway.
  • handy...


    February 7, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    Yep... knew this all along.

    Hey, any natural food is going to be better for you than chemicals dressed up as "food".

  • easun...


    February 7, 2013 at 12:50 AM
    Margarine is just wannabe edible plastic.
  • jagam...


    February 7, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Same as the rest of the commenters. Duh. lol 

    If I want something like butter, I use real butter. That's the general rule I live by with all food though. Real food is always better than fake. 

  • ljnmom


    February 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I second (or third..) the "duh" comments.  It's like saying water is better for you than soda.... 

  • Taisie


    February 7, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    I keep trying to tell my mother in law that margerine is just gross, for all kinds of reasons... but she just won't believe me. She has heart problems already, I'm gonna email her this article, maybe she'll listen to this. and butter just tastes SO much better anyhow, and funny, she's kind of a hippy granola about everything BUT butter/margerine.

  • dekumama


    February 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    In all fairness, not all butter alternatives are created equal. We started using Earth Balance spreads when my baby developed a dairy allergy. It is free from hydrogenated oils and dairy. While it may not be a true margarine, it is quite tasty and non GMO. I'll probably keep using it even after we've outgrown the need for it.

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