The Great Butter Debate
Not all butter is created equal. I want to show you the difference between real butter and margarine so you can decide if you want to make the healthier choice. I want you to understand why margarine is downright dangerous, and why grass-fed butter is the best choice for you and your family.
What is Margarine?
“Margarine is a butter substitute made from vegetable oils or animal fats” according to the web dictionary. It was invented in France in 1869 because the Emperor Napoleon III issued a challenge to Hippolyte Mege-Mouries to create a butter replacement from animal tallow for the servicemen and the lower classes.
What is the difference between butter and margarine is clear. Butter is made from the butterfat of milk whereas margarine is made mainly of refined vegetable oil and water and may contain milk. Some people call it oleo, since it was originally called oleomargarine, and in Britain, they shorten it to marge.
Ever since I went Paleo before I became Keto, I knew that vegetable oil was not good for you and threw all of it out of my house. All we use in my house are these oils:
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- avocado oil
- bacon fat
Those of us in the low-carb world are taught that we must get our fat from good sources like grass-fed butter, avocados, coconut products (oil, manna, butter, and milk), and somewhere I read that on a molecular level, margarine was just one molecule off of being plastic! Well, I don’t know if all that is true, but it sure scared me off of using it ever again. Just like being told that certain sweeteners like Equal and Splenda contain carcinogens made me make the switch to all natural Stevia, I made the switch to real, grass-fed butter (Kerrygold) and I’ve used it ever since.
The war between margarine and butter has been going on since the late 1800’s because the dairy industry saw margarine as the competition, which it is, and it still persists to this day. When it was first created, it was made using mainly beef fat, yet after the depression, manufacturers started using vegetable oil because of the shortage of beef fat, and in the early 1900’s commercial oleomargarine was produced by using a combo of animal fats and some hardened and unhardened vegetable oils.
After 1950, the industry changed due to problems with supply, legislation, and switched completely to making margarine with vegetable oils. The problem was the product was white compared to butter which was yellow, making it most unappealing to consumers. Thus began the practice of coloring the margarine which caused more problems and scared the dairy farms into passing legislation against the coloring method. Later during WWII, oleo became popular because there was a shortage of butter and around 1955 the law was repealed and margarine could be sold for the first time colored like butter.
By the 21st century, margarine became known as a spread and most brands phased out hydrogenated oils and became trans-fat free. Some brands created refrigerator stable spreads that contained only 1/3 of the fat and calorie content and other brands added Omega-3 fatty acids to their spreads, low salt, olive oils, or plant sterols to lower cholesterol (supposedly) to make them certified vegan oils. Today’s spreads are made from a variety of oils including safflower, rapeseed, soybean, cottonseed or olive oils.
Grass-fed Butter is Better
Many studies have shown that people who eat grass fed butter have a lower risk of heart disease. The case against saturated fat has been debunked in recent years with several studies done showing no association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.
Grass fed butter has many good fatty acids like conjugated LINOLEIC acid which studies show can have powerful effects on health. CLA is popular as a fat loss supplement which may explain why people who eat more good fats tend to lose weight, in conjunction with a low carb diet and exercise. Grass-fed butter contains 5 times more CLA than butter from grain-fed cows.
Another reason grass fed butter is a more nutritious choice is that it is higher in omega three fatty acid‘s and vitamin K 12 compared to better from grain fed cows.
Several studies from different countries where cows are grass-fed show that dairy fat is linked to reduced heart attacks and strokes. One of these studies was from Australia, which showed that those folks who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate the least.
My favorite brand is Kerrygold, but there are other brands to choose from such as Organic Valley pasture butter and Anchor butter which is imported from New Zealand. Whichever brand you choose, just know that they are readily available online, in health food stores and some have even made it to your local grocery store. I have found Kerrygold at Walmart, Aldi, and Kroger, yet you can also purchase it from Amazon.
Another plus for Kerrygold concerns the subject of bioaccumulated toxins. See, dairy cows can store lots of yucky chemical pollutants in their fat, including their milk fat. so, if cows graze on contaminated soil and then ingest it, and you eat the butter, ice cream, or cheese that was produced by those cows, supposedly those toxins, including one called dioxin, go directly into you.
In the case of Kerrygold butter cows however, Ireland has a very low toxicity rate in their soil (between 0-0.5 pg/g milk fat) which means that people eating products made with Irish cows milk have a a very low risk from a bioaccumulative perspective. That is another reason I stick with what I know, and that is Kerrygold butter!