This has been debated a lot over the last few years with the common view that margarine is the healthier option. Here’s my opinion on what you choose to cook with and what put on your toast (which is hopefully rye bread or some other wholegrain).
There are lots of different types of fats and butter is what’s known as a saturated fat. Saturated fat often gets a very bad rep when it comes to cardiovascular disease, but studies show that this isn’t strictly true. Here is a meta study from PubMed showing “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease or Cardiovascular Disease.
Margarine is made from vegetable oils, which are polyunsaturated fats. The process these oils go through to make margarine is hydrogenation, which involves heating it up to high temperatures and essentially turning it into a trans fats.
Trans fats are the fats you really want to avoid. They are artificial, designed to extend the shelf life of products like cookies and pizza dough. Margarine also contains a high amount of omega-6, which is a pro inflammatory and inflammation, is a BIG factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease.
What’s wrong with omega-6?
Omega 6 is an essential fat, as we don’t have the enzymes to produce them naturally. However, the typical western diet contains too many omega 6 fats through processed foods containing vegetable oil. Butter is actually relatively low in omega 6.
Why do we need more omega-3?
It might not be that you need more omega 3, but that you need a better balance between omega 3 and omega 6. Its anti-inflammatory effects are obviously good when it comes to cardiovascular disease. Foods high in omega-3 would be seafood and grass-fed animals.
My recommendation would be that, of the two, butter is the healthier option to use. This is because it is a natural product that doesn’t go through the processes that margarine does before it ends up in our cupboards. It also has a far superior omega-3-6 ratio. Butter is also high in vitamin A and vitamin E.