Butter vs margarine

Popularly, butter and margarine, and even low-fat margarine, seem to be the same product. You spread it on your bread (tub) and you can also bake and roast with butter or a pack of margarine. Yet there is a big difference between butter and margarine because butter is made from natural ingredients, while margarine, and also low-fat margarine, is an industrial product and an artificial butter. The title above could just as well have been ‘Natural butter versus artificial butter’. Moreover, ‘Artificial Butter’ was actually the name this product bore until 1889. Only after this year was it officially renamed Margarine. But what is the difference? Is butter healthier than margarine, or vice versa, or does it not matter?


  • Butter consists of a minimum of 80% and a maximum of 90% milk fat
  • Butter is a purely natural product to which nothing unnatural is added.
  • The fats in butter are largely saturated fats
  • Butter contains natural ‘ruminant trans fats’ that do not harm health

Butter naturally contains large amounts of vitamins such as:

  • ]Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin K2


  • Consists of a minimum of 80% and a maximum of 90% vegetable fats
  • Is a processed product. Everything in it must be added. So also vitamins
  • The fats in margarine are largely unsaturated fats
  • Margarine contains artificial trans fats that are dangerous to health

The additions consist of:

  • Synthetic and modified fatty acid esters
  • Emulsifiers
  • Lecithins
  • Preservatives
  • Food acids
  • Flavorings
  • Butter coloring
  • Added vitamins

Margarine is not butter

Although in use it seems as if there is little difference between a pack of butter and a pack or tub of margarine, the difference is indeed very large. The biggest difference is that butter is a purely natural product and margarine or, as you understand, also low-fat margarine, is a processed chemical product. It is not surprising that many people are not aware of this. You spread it both on your sandwich and you bake and roast with a pack of margarine the same as with butter.

But does this by definition mean that unnaturally produced margarine is unhealthy?

The opponents of margarine, and also low-fat margarine, claim that eating and using margarine/low-fat margarine is so unhealthy that it can contribute to the development of health problems and even diseases. This is mainly due to the trans fats that are created during the hardening process of the liquid oil with the aim of making it spreadable or hard.
The proponents or rather the bodies that prefer margarine over butter include the nutrition center, often dietitians, and also the Dutch Heart Foundation who advise you to choose margarine and even better low-fat margarine because of too many saturated fats in butter that are bad (is their beliefs) for the heart and vessels. These are not the least authorities and that makes the confusion even greater.

Urban myth

The story goes that margarine was discovered accidentally because the initial intention was to find something that would fatten turkeys at an accelerated pace. This turned out not to work and therefore the product would have been used instead, after adjustments, as margarine for consumers. It is very unlikely that this is a true story. Yet margarine, and especially low-fat margarine, is considered unhealthy among people who are critical of nutrition and therefore try to find out as much as possible what is healthy or unhealthy, including margarine versus butter.

The claims made about the unhealthiness of margarine are

  • It consists of very large amounts of trans fatty acids
  • It undermines the immune system
  • It increases the risk of clogged coronary arteries up to three times
  • It increases the risk of cancer up to five times
  • It increases the level of lipoprotein-a and therefore the risk of arteriosclerosis
  • It reduces the quality of breast milk
  • It decreases the insulin response
  • And…it contains 27 ingredients that are also found in paint!

The opinion of the Dutch Heart Foundation

The website of the Dutch Heart Foundation states that it has been convincingly shown that foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as soft margarines or vegetable oils, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease compared to foods rich in saturated fatty acids, such as butter. and hard margarines.

Too much saturated fat or trans fat increases the cholesterol level in the blood. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Choose products with unsaturated fats, such as low-fat margarine in a tub, liquid margarine in a spray bottle, oil, oily fish and nuts. And, for example, choose low-fat and semi-skimmed products.
(Source: Heart Foundation 2018)

Back to Real butter

People think that butter and therefore butter is much fattier and therefore automatically bad for your health. This is mainly because information is provided in this way. Over the years we have been told that saturated fats in particular should be avoided because they are bad for cholesterol levels and therefore contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. The fat content of 80 to 90% in butter is saturated fat, which creates the link to the idea that butter is very bad because it consists of bad fats.
You can now read and hear from many corners and holes through lectures (also on YouTube) from people involved in health and nutrition that saturated fats are not unhealthy at all and that we really need those fats to better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. can be absorbed into our body. This concerns vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are naturally found in butter and if you also use butter with other foods that also contain these vitamins, such as the provitamin A in carrots, these vitamins can also be added. are better absorbed into the body. Precisely because of that lump of butter.

The sum of butter:

  • Butter is a natural product made from cow’s milk and cream
  • In terms of calories, there is little difference between butter and margarine
  • Butter does not contain dangerous trans fats that are created by chemical processes.
  • Saturated fats are much less bad than trans fats
  • butter has a much fuller taste than margarine

Spoilage of butter and margarine

Insects or bacteria do not affect margarine. Just put an open tub of margarine or low-fat margarine in a corner somewhere. You don’t have to worry about it getting moldy or rotting or smelly because no fly will come to it. Even microorganisms cannot grow on it. Butter, on the other hand, can become moldy. If you see black dots appearing in the butter, you can no longer eat it.

read more

  • Fats and oils. The correct use
  • Why be careful with trans fats?
  • Why good nutrition is so important
  • Vitamins, minerals and trace elements
  • Vitamin D is very important for a healthy body

Similar Posts