Food & Diet

Margarine vs. Butter – What’s the Difference?

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The main ingredient in butter is milk or cream, while in margarine it’s vegetable oil. Both butter and margarine can be more or less unhealthy, depending on the producer. Margarine usually has less unsaturated fats than butter, but has much more trans fat. Both margarine and butter contain approximately the same number of calories, but as you know, different foods can have the same number of calories, but it doesn’t make them equally healthy.

When it comes to the essential differences, it is important to say that butter is very high in cholesterol, while margarine usually is not.

On the other hand, butter doesn’t contain trans fat, while margarine does. When it comes to saturated fats per 100 grams, butter contains almost twice as much fat (51g) than margarine (23g). Butter contains a gram of protein per 100 grams, while margarine doesn’t contain any at all. This isn’t some crucial difference, though.

Although, at this point you are probably still conflicted and don’t think that any of these is good for you.

According to Nina Teicholz, a journalist at Wall Street Journal, saturated fat found in butter is much less damaging for your heart than vegetable oil, a claim which hasn’t been successfully disputed in the last 30 years. This indicates that, considering the fats, butter is healthier than margarine.


Butter is believed to have been is use since the first century CE, and it became very popular over time. In the 1860s Napoleon III of France offered a large monetary prize to a person who finds a substitute for butter that would cost less. This led to the invention of margarine by a French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés. Since 1930, when people ate around 18 lbs of butter and only around 2 pounds of margarine per year, margarine gained popularity and became eaten even more than butter. This may be because margarine is cheaper and lasts longer, while the taste isn’t much different, so people settle for second best, but it may as well be that they like margarine better.

When it comes to whether butter or margarine is better for you, nutritionists have divided opinions.

First, as butter is produced out of medium chains of fatty acids, it has been shown to be beneficial for fighting off disease and making a person feel full for a longer time. Butter also contains vitamins such as A, D, E and K. However, this doesn’t mean that butter is entirely healthy and that there are no healthier options. Many people have switched to using olive oil instead of both butter and margarine in order to gain more health benefits and expose themselves to less potential harm.

As for margarine, as it was already said – it is a substitute for butter, but a cheap and artificial one.

It can also put your health in risk of developing heart disease due to its high contents of trans fat. On the other hand, not all margarines contain this fat, as some modern producers got rid of trans fat entirely, so now you have zero fat margarine enriched with vitamins A and D. They are very popular in America and many people use it daily.

Today, many fitness experts started using butter as a part of their diet.

They are putting it in their coffee and spreading it over the skillet before frying. They say it is a healthy source of fat. There haven’t been any health benefits proven for margarine, but that doesn’t take away its popularity.

It is up to you whether you will choose butter or margarine to be a part of your diet. You have read about the benefits and harmfulness of both of them and neither is completely harmless. On the bright side, butter does seem healthier than margarine, and it tastes a little better too.