The Truth About Margarine vs Butter

Margarine in a tub.

Margarine originated with the discovery by Michel Eugène Chevreul in 1813 of margaric acid.  In 1870 a French chemist named Hippolyte Mege-Mouriez, used margaric acid to create Margarine in response to a request from Emperor Louis Napoleon who offered a prize to anyone who could make a satisfactory substitute for butter, suitable for use by the armed forces and the lower classes.

Margarine is made by a process called hydrogenation. Traditional margarines, which contain saturated fats, are mostly made from vegetable oils. Modern margarines can be made from any of a wide variety of hydrogenated animal or vegetable fats.

Today’s margarine differs substantially from the original oleomargarine invented by Mouriez. The hydrogenated margarine today is liquid vegetable oil converted into a solid or semi-solid grease known as plasticisation.

The manufacturing process begins with cheap vegetable oils, such as Canola and Cotton Seed, which have already been rendered harmful by the extraction process involving high temperature and petrochemical solvents such as benzene. Some of these oils, such as cottonseed oil, are not even suitable for human or animal consumption.

Canola oil, the beauty queen of the vegetable oil industry. It was developed by making a hybrid version of the rapeseed, and it was given its name in the 1980s as part of a marketing effort organized by a conference on mono-saturates.

Rapeseed oil contains high amounts of the toxic erucic acid, which is poisonous to the body. Canola oil is an altered version, also called Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed (LEAR) and it is commonly genetically modified and treated with high levels of pesticides.

Canola (modified rapeseed oil) is produced by heating the rapeseed and processing with a petroleum solvent to extract the oil. Then another process of heat and addition of acid is used to remove nasty solids (wax) that occur during the first processing.

The oil is once again subjected to extreme high temperature (about 500ºF) and pressure, and hydrogen is forced into the molecular structure to harden it. This process requires toxic substances, such as nickel oxide, which act as catalysts that enable the chemical change.

The end result is a smelly, gray,  greasy substance. So it is deodorized, again using high heat and chemical additives. The grease is then bleached white and yellow dye is added. Finally, artificial flavors are mixed in to make it taste like butter.

Margarine is high in trans fatty acids. Hydrogenated are so-called “trans fats” or, more correctly, trans-fatty acids, are unnatural compounds, which are known to be detrimental to health.

The primary health risk identified for trans fat consumption is an elevated risk of coronary heart disease. Trans fats have also been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Liver Dysfunction, Infertility in women and Depression.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulation requiring manufacturers to list trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel of foods and some dietary supplements. The new labeling rule became mandatory across the board, even for companies that petitioned for extensions. However, unlike other countries, in the US, trans fat levels of less than 0.5 grams per serving can be listed as 0 grams trans fat on the food label. A deceitful practice at best.

 When choosing between butter or margarine keep these facts in mind.


1) Margarine begins as chemically-extracted, refined vegetable oil and is a poor quality product to begin with.

2) The final product also contains nickel, cadmium and often other very toxic contaminants.  These are introduced as hardening agents used in the production process.

3) Nickel, for example, is an extremely toxic chemical that in excess causes lung cancer, kidney disease, depression and more.

4) Cadmium is also among the most toxic of the heavy metals.  It may contribute to serious diseases such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and malignancy.

5) Margarine also contains artificial or natural coloring agents, or it would look like bicycle grease.  In summary, margarine is a disaster, even so-called health-food margarine.


1) Butter is made from churning cream.

2) It is a fabulous fat that contains a number of natural fatty acids that are excellent for the body.

3) Butter is an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.  These are not found to any degree in margarine.

4) Butter does not contain trans-fatty acids or toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium.


The argument for eating margarine and other products containing hydrogenated oils are their lack of cholesterol.  Margarine is also less expensive than butter.

However, margarine often contains poor-quality, refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil.  It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids, and often residues of toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium.  It does not contain many nutrients at all.

Butter, by contrast, is a natural food and one of the best sources of important fat-soluble vitamins.  You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally and for its purity, it is well worth it.

Michael Muracco

about the author:
Michael Muracco is a Freelance Web Designer and PHP Programmer. He is the owner of Muracco Enterprises and founder of Mount Washington Valley Astronomy. His personal blog Mike's Place, is a soundboard for environmental and political issues. He is also an avid amateur astronomer.

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