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Myth: Butter is worse for you than margarine

TRUTH:  Butter contains cholesterol and saturated fat, which can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.  Saturated fat can also increase your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.  On the other hand, margarine is sometimes made from hydrogenated vegetable oil (which contains no cholesterol and is mostly unsaturated fats).  During the hydrogenation process, trans fats are formed which not only raise your LDL, they also lower your HDL.

Some margarines don’t contain many trans fats and when choosing a margarine spread, a good guideline is to add the grams of trans fat and saturated fat together. If the total per serving is 1.5 grams or less, it’s a good choice.

BOTTOM LINE:  Butter and margarine are fats that should be used sparingly.  So, if you’re truly using them sparingly, the difference in fats is probably negligible and you don’t need to lose sleep over the butter vs. margarine debate.

Besides, I think Joan Gussow made a good point when she said “I prefer butter to margarine because I trust cows more than I trust chemists.”


  1. Harvard Health:
  2. Cleveland Clinic:

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