Cream vs. Margarine: Is One “Better” to You Than the Other?

For your health, should you choose cream or margarine?

“I think most people think margarine or cream alternatives are a better choice for health because they’re lower in saturated fat, but that’s not necessarily true,” says Jillian Kuba, a registered dietitian in New York. Ra told Fox News Digital.

“Even among health professionals, fat is often misunderstood and oversimplified, which leads to widespread demonization and fear of fat,” she added.

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“The truth is, fats are very complex and their physiological effects depend on their composition, origin, etc.”

Butter is a dairy product, while margarine is usually made from vegetable oil and water, often with added emulsifiers and flavorings.

Do you prefer cream or margarine? Here’s everything you need to know about the spread and its health status. (iStock)

Before you slather some sauce on your toast or throw some in the skillet, here are some health specs for butter vs. margarine.

What are the health statistics of butter?

Kubala pointed out the nutritional information for butter using the USDA Food Data Central Database.

Organic cream on the market

Butter is known for its rich, creamy flavor. One tablespoon of cream contains 7.3 grams of saturated fat. (iStock)

When she breaks it down, a typical serving size of butter is one tablespoon, and it provides the following functions:

Calories: 102

Total fat: 11.5 grams

Saturated fat: 7.3 grams

Cream cubes on the table

“If you replace butter with a more nutritious (nutrient dense and antioxidant) option like avocado or olive oil, it may have a positive impact on your health. However, if you replace butter with a highly processed product like margarine , it may have the opposite effect,” said a nutritionist. (iStock)

What are the health statistics for margarine?

According to Kubala, nutritional specifications for a tablespoon of margarine typically include the following:

Calories: 84.8

Total fat: 9.56g

Saturated fat: 2.34 grams

margarine in container

The nutritional content of margarine varies depending on the brand and type consumers choose. (iStock)

While margarine is lower in total fat and saturated fat than butter, not all lower-fat foods are necessarily “better” for you, Kubala said.

Margarine, for example, can be made from oils rich in omega-6 fats, she said.

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“While both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are necessary for health, most Americans’ diets are much higher in omega-6s,” Kubala said, referring to the Journal of the Missouri Medical Association ” A study published in 2021.

“[Omega-6s] Concentrated in vegetable oil, [rather] Contrast that with omega-3s, which are concentrated in seafood and certain plant foods, such as chia seeds,” she said.

“This creates an imbalance that favors omega-6 fatty acids, which tend to be more inflammatory in nature, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory.”

She continued, “Health experts believe this dietary imbalance is a major driver behind many chronic inflammatory diseases, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, increased risk factors for heart disease, certain cancers, and cognitive decline.”

How about a vegan or plant-based creamy spread?

In recent years, plant-based “cream” has become increasingly popular. Plant-based “creams” are often made from various vegetable oils, such as coconut, soy, or avocado oil.

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To make them taste more like butter and have the right texture, emulsifiers and flavorings are often added.

Avocado Cream Substitute

Some vegan or plant-based butters use avocado oil as a base and then add flavorings to create a more “butter-like” flavor. (iStock)

“Some plant-based spreads are made with minimal nutritional ingredients like nuts or nut milks, but most butter alternatives are often highly processed and made from omega-6-rich oils,” Kubala said. ”

If you want a spread or butter substitute with a butter-like texture when cooking or baking, choosing plant-based products is “very good,” Kubala said.

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“While consuming small amounts of cream alternatives won’t have a major health impact, I always recommend choosing the least processed foods possible,” she says.

“For example, if you can’t eat butter due to dietary restrictions, try using mashed avocado or a small amount of high-quality olive oil instead of butter on toast.”

coconut oil alternatives

Emulsifiers are often added to vegan buttercream, some of which are made with coconut oil, to create a texture very similar to butter. (iStock)

A 2022 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who consumed more than half a tablespoon (7 grams) of olive oil per day had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and respiratory diseases disease.

According to a previous report by Fox News Digital, researchers also found that people who replaced 10 grams of margarine, cream, mayonnaise and butterfat with olive oil per day lived longer.

The Bottom Line on the Cream vs. Margarine Debate

There are different types of saturated fat (small-chain, medium-chain and long-chain saturated fat), and “they have complex and varying effects on heart disease risk factors,” Kubala said.

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However, she added, health organizations have long recommended that people reduce their intake of saturated fat to improve heart health.

“While it is important to avoid certain high-fat foods, such as fried foods, the general recommendation to reduce foods high in saturated fat, such as butter, and replace them with lower-fat alternatives such as margarine does not go far. In the interest of public health, Kubala said.

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She added, “As Americans increasingly rely on low-fat foods like sugary carbohydrates, low-fat salad dressings, and butter substitutes, rates of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity have steadily increased over time. .”

Man spreading butter on bread

Butter is a natural product that is rich in saturated fat. Margarine, by comparison, is lower in saturated fat but may contain trans fats, both of which can negatively impact heart health. (iStock)

“Thinking of all saturated fats as bad fats and unsaturated fats as good or healthy is not the way to look at macronutrients,” she says.

“While it is true that consuming diets high in saturated fat such as butter may negatively impact health in some ways, especially in people who are more sensitive to dietary fat or have health conditions that require a low-fat diet, most people do not do this .There is no need to completely avoid foods high in saturated fat.”

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“Butter itself is not harmful and can be incorporated into the healthiest, well-rounded dietary patterns.”

The difference between cream and margarine

People should focus on their overall diet and food consumption rather than “focusing on or fearing one nutrient.” (iStock)

Kubala advises people to focus on their overall dietary intake and diet quality.

“If your diet is high in high-fat foods known to have negative health effects, such as fried foods and processed meats, reduce your intake of these foods and replace them with foods known to have positive health effects. High-fat foods such as fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds,”

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Kubasla adds that if you like butter, “enjoy it in small chunks.”

“In my opinion, eating small amounts of cream is a better choice for overall health than consuming highly processed cream alternatives such as margarine,” she says.

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