Butter vs Margarine

In the rush to lower cholesterol, many health authorities recommend we eat margarine instead of butter. However, there is more to consider about margarine than just cholesterol.


What is Margarine?

'Hardening' vegetable oil by bubbling hydrogen through it at high temperature produces margarine. The hydrogen saturates some of the carbon-carbon bonds of the oil. The product then becomes hard or solid at room temperature. When the carbon bonds are saturated, the product is called a saturated fat. Margarine contains some saturated fat or it would not be hard at room temperature. The ads and the packaging for margarine are often deceptive. Advertising often states it contains 'polyunsaturated oil'. However, the processing saturates or partially saturates the oil.


The high temperature needed to produce margarine destroys vitamin E and other nutrients in the oil. Also, the final product contains trans-fatty acids. These are not naturally-occurring fatty acids. Research shows that trans-fatty acids increase inflammation in the body. This can worsen illnesses such as colitis and arthritis. Very recent research indicates that trans-fatty acids in margarine raise LDL levels. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol.


Hardening agents used in the production of margarine include cadmium and nickel. Nickel is a toxic metal that in excess causes lung and kidney problems. Cadmium is at least 10 times more toxic than nickel. Cadmium contributes to serious diseases such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and malignancy.


What About Butter?

Cream is the raw material for butter. Butter is a partially saturated fat, just like margarine. However, because it is a natural, not a man-made product, it does not contain trans-fatty acids. Butter contains some cholesterol. Cholesterol is the complex fat molecule that is the precursor for the adrenal and sex hormones. Butter also contains milk solids that gives it the whitish color.


Butter is a source for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. These are not found to any degree in margarine. The vitamin content of butter varies seasonally, depending upon the diet of the animals it is derived from.


Dr. Weston Price identified a factor in butter that is essential for proper growth and development of the bone structure. He called it 'activator X' and wrote about it in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Dr. Price was able to reverse severe tooth decay in children by feeding them one meal a day of highly nutritious food - including butter.


Butter made from certified raw (unpasteurized) cream is available in some areas. It is the best quality butter available, next to making it from your own cow.


Is Avoiding Butter The Way To Control Cholesterol?

Repeated observations by many natural health practitioners indicate that a balanced body chemistry is the key to normalizing cholesterol. Dr. William Koch, an eminent physician, wrote:

"Cholesterol ... is no problem when the oxidations are efficient and diet is sensible. In all our observations, high levels drop ... it steadies to a good normal when the oxidations are re-established to normal."

Efficient oxidations in the above quote refers to the efficient burning of food and generation of adequate energy from food. Thus, it is not necessary to avoid every drop of cholesterol-containing foods. Most cholesterol is manufactured within the body, and does not come from the diet. A maximum of about 4% of all cholesterol comes from the diet. In fact, eating some animal products may help balance body chemistry. In these instances, cholesterol levels or the cholesterol/HDL ratio improves although the diet contains cholesterol-containing foods.


Certain individuals may need to limit the cholesterol level in their diet. However, a major cause of elevated cholesterol is stress. The body may react to stress by producing more cholesterol, which in turn can be made into the adrenal hormones the body uses to handle stress. As biochemical stress is reduced through a nutrition program, cholesterol levels often decrease without the need for very restrictive diets.


In general, fast oxidizers can eat more butter and other fatty foods. True fast oxidizers run lower cholesterol levels. They also burn up fats more rapidly and efficiently. Slow oxidizers should restrict all fats and oils, including butter. However, a small amount of butter (1 teaspoon daily) may be eaten by slow oxidizers.


Summary

The argument for eating margarine is its lack of cholesterol. It is also less expensive than butter. However, margarine contains refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil. It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids. Margarine may also contain residues of the toxic metals nickel and cadmium. The calorie content of butter and margarine is about the same. Butter, however, is a natural food, free of toxic metals, and a good source of important fat-soluble vitamins. You will pay a little more for butter, but nutritionally it is well worth it.



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