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Butter or Margarine?

It seems like more and more people are abandoning their fears of butter and choosing it once again over margarine.  That, folks, is a glorious thing.  If you’re not quite there yet, let me shed some light on the topic.

Fat is your friend.  Good quality fat, that is.  The beautiful fats found in avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, animal fats, and you guessed it, good old fashioned butter.  In a nutshell, your cells need that healthy fat!  If you remember back to your high school biology days, cell membranes are literally made of fats in the form of a phospholipid bilayer.  That lipid part of the word is fat.  So if you’re not giving your cells the proper fat to keep that membrane good and strong, it can’t function properly.  It can start letting the wrong things in or out and cause all sorts of health problems.  When you start messing with your building blocks, the bigger being can be affected whether it’s tissues, organs, and maybe even organ systems.

Other roles of fat include:

-Necessity for the absorption of vitamins A, E, D, K (the fat soluble vitamins)

-Makes food taste good!  *All these low-fat/fat-free foods taste awful after the fat is removed which is why SO much sugar is then added back in.

-Required for proper use of proteins!

-Protects the organs of the body

-Slows the absorption of food for proper energy regulation

Regular butter, among other healthy sources of fat, can provide some of that nourishment for cells.  It also provides the fuel the cells need to perform.  So again, fat is your friend!  I really believe people would be less afraid of fat if it had a nicer name.

Margarine is a trans fat, a by-product of the hydrogenation process.  No bueno.  Yuck.  Let’s take a look at some margarine processing from the book, Nourishing Traditions.
“Manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils – soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, already rancid from the extraction process – and mix them with tiny metal particles – usually nickel oxide.  The oil with its nickel catalyst is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor.  Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency; the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned.  This removes its unpleasant odor.  Margarine’s natural color, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach.  Dyes and strong flavors must then be added to make it resemble butter.  Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as a health food.”

That, to me, is enough to steer clear of margarine!

That said, however, with the level of processing of, well, everything today, there can still be less than great butter too.  Granted butter at all is still much better than margarine, but it’d be best to aim for a good quality butter.  When you find butter from healthy pasture-fed cows, the butter is not only tastes better, but is full of nutrients!  Good quality butter actually contains both short- and medium-chain fatty acids, omega-3 and -6, conjugated linoleic acid, and vitamins A, E, and K.

In our house, we use Kerrygold butter.  (I am not affiliated with this company.)  Their butter comes from cows raised in Ireland, who spend over 4/5  of the year out on the pasture eating fresh green grass.  It’s definitely a staple here.

I know Kerrygold is not a perfect butter as there are a small amount of GMOs in the cows feed when they are not on the pasture.  However, it’s widely available in grocery stores so when we need butter, this is the one I will continue to reach for.

Make the switch to healthy traditional butter! 

Source: Fallon, Sally, and Mary G. Enig. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub., 2001. Print.      

In good health,

Michelle                    

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