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Tri2Cook

The status of margarine in 2011

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Atleast they are real food, margarine are unhealthy.

Sigh.

Depending on the oils involved, non-hydrogenated margarines can be lower in total fats, trans fats and saturated fats as well as cholesterol and total calories than butter is. Why are vegetable oils any less "real food" than butter? I prefer butter but I don't kid myself that it's any healthier than non-hydrogenated margarine... it just tastes better.

Host Note: This topic is the result of splitting off some discussion in this topic about shelf stable fats for chicken wing sauce.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Atleast they are real food, margarine are unhealthy.

Sigh.

Depending on the oils involved, non-hydrogenated margarines can be lower in total fats, trans fats and saturated fats as well as cholesterol and total calories than butter is. Why are vegetable oils any less "real food" than butter? I prefer butter but I don't kid myself that it's any healthier than non-hydrogenated margarine... it just tastes better.

More and more research is coming out that saturated fat is not bad for you (and possibly good for you) - there are definitely quite a few people who believe that butter (or bacon fat or fatty beef) is healthier for you than vegetable oil (especially if you are concerned about your omega-6 intake).

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Depending on the oils involved, non-hydrogenated margarines can be lower in total fats, trans fats and saturated fats as well as cholesterol and total calories than butter is. Why are vegetable oils any less "real food" than butter? I prefer butter but I don't kid myself that it's any healthier than non-hydrogenated margarine... it just tastes better.

Well obviously it's "real food" under the proper definition of the word, but perhaps not the Michael Pollan one. Margarine is a heavily processed food, and generally (even in the case of margarines like Earth Balance) contains fillers, emulsifiers, natural or artificial flavors, etc. It's edible, but it's not something that fits the common sense definition of "real food". Personally, I eat margarine on occasion because I don't eat dairy (for ethical and environmental, more than health reasons), but I don't convince myself that it's more healthful or delicious than butter.

This is the kind of reductionist nutritional theory that the "real food" crowd doesn't agree with. In other words, just because something looks "the same" or "better" based on a small number of measurable criteria doesn't mean that it's automatically more healthful. The book The Queen of Fats makes a good set of arguments (in my opinion) for some of the other factors that should be looked at, especially the balance of essential fatty acids, and also makes some good general criticisms of how reductionist our nutritional philosophy is - first dietary cholesterol is bad, then saturated fat is bad, then trans fat is bad and saturated fat is Ok -- we seem obsessed with having one "bad" thing to avoid completely, rather than taking a more holistic view. The book also makes the argument (convincingly, I think) that eggs, milk, and meat from pastured animals contain a better balance of fats, because of their diet.


Edited by Will (log)

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Yes, I did over-simplify. There are some .xx% differences in nutritional values and there are some areas where each scores better than the other but the real world differences just aren't that major. I'm not suggesting anyone should switch from butter to margarine, I won't, but I am suggesting that it's not the monster it's usually played up to be in comparison to butter as far as health and nutrition goes (taste is another matter). I guess the "real food" argument comes down to point of view. There's no margarine plant but there's also no butter teat on the cows.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I guess the "real food" argument comes down to point of view. There's no margarine plant but there's also no butter teat on the cows.

I think one difference is:

Butter -- ingredients: sweet cream*, optionally salt

Earth Balance Original - ingredients: Expeller-pressed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola and olive), filtered water, pure salt, natural flavor (derived from corn, no msg, no alcohol, no gluten), soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets), and naturally extracted annatto for color. [they do specify that all ingredients are non-GMO)

Country Crock Original - ingredients: Vegetable Oil Blend (Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil), Water, Whey (Milk), Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, (Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA), Citric Acid, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3).

Margarine, even in the best case scenario, has a lot more ingredients, and a lot more ingredients which you couldn't pronounce, or wouldn't want to eat on their own. There's also often a reliance on fillers like soy protein (produced through the chemical extraction of oil from soybeans) and emulsifiers, like soy lecithin. I think overall that the movement away from hydrogenated oils and trans fats is a good thing, but it does seem to necessitate adding more "weird" ingredients, especially if you want to avoid using too many tropical oils.

Also, one could very trivially make butter at home (in fact, I did it when I was a kid), whereas it would be essentially impossible for your average home cook to make Earth Balance at home. And butter and cream have been consumed by humans in some parts of the world for quite a long time.

* Maybe a starter culture in the case of fermented butter. Yes, there are butters out there which have additives or other stuff, but assuming we're talking about a pure butter.


Edited by Will (log)

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I'd like to point that you can make homemeade margarine but, I haven't tried that recipe, so I have no idea how good it is.

I do use butter, because it tastes better. I do try to use monosaturated fats for salad dressings, mayonnaise, and general cooking. But, beurre noisette is one of my favorite sauces...

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I'd like to point that you can make homemeade margarine but, I haven't tried that recipe, so I have no idea how good it is.

Right - but I didn't say you couldn't make some kind of margarine at home. I think most people would have a hard time replicating commercial margarine at home without special ingredients and / or equipment. Even if you happen to keep soy lecithin around, the flavors that make them "buttery" would probably be hard to create. If you just want a solid fat without trying to replicate the flavor of butter, there are non-hydrogenated shortenings and oil blends out there, and you can compensate for the non-fat components of butter / margarine by adjusting the liquid / fat content of a recipe.

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I always thought that margarine was called "artificial" or "fake" because it was developed as a substitute for real butter?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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As the mother of a milk allergic child, there is always a place for margarine in my fridge. That said, I try to avoid cooking with it when I can. Mostly I use it to make icing, cookies, other baked goods and for "buttering" her majesty's (my milk allergic daughter) toast.


Cheryl

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