BUTTER VERSUS MARGARINE
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© Revised, March 2011, The Center For Development
In the rush to lower cholesterol, many health authorities recommend eating margarine instead of butter. However, there is more to consider about margarine than just cholesterol.
WHAT IS MARGARINE?
Margarine begins as chemically-extracted, refined vegetable oil. This is a poor quality product to begin with. The oil is extracted at high temperature, which damages the oil. It also destroys the vitamin E in the oil, an important nutrient.
To make margarine, the oil must be hardened. This is done by bubbling hydrogen through the vegetable oil at high temperature. 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. Otherwise it would not be hard at room temperature. The ads and the packaging for margarine are often deceptive lies. Advertising often states it contains 'polyunsaturated oil'. However, the processing saturates or partially saturates the oil.
The final product also usually contains some trans-fatty acids, no matter what the label says. These are man-made 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.
The final product also contains nickel, cadmium and often other very toxic contaminants. These are introduced as hardening agents used in the production process. Nickel, for example, is an extremely toxic chemical that in excess causes lung cancer, kidney disease, depression and more.
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.
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.
WHAT IS BUTTER?
Butter is made from the cream that rises to the top if milk is allowed to sit for a time. Butter is made by churning cream. This causes a chemical reaction that causes the cream to harden slightly, giving it the buttery consistency.
Certified raw butter is a fabulous fat that contains a number of natural fatty acids that are excellent for the body. 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. The vitamin content of butter varies seasonally, depending on the diet of the animals from which it is derived.
Also, butter does not contain trans-fatty acids or toxic metals, hopefully, such as nickel and cadmium. Butter contains some milk solids, giving it a whitish color. Ghee or clarified butter does not contain the milk solids.
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' or ‘factor 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.
Although many people are sensitive to cow’s milk dairy products, often butter is well-tolerated. This is because butter is almost a pure fat, and does not contain many of the allergens found in other milk products. For example, it does not contain milk protein (casein) or milk sugar (lactose). These are two highly allergenic components of some dairy products.
Butter made from raw (unpasteurized) cream is available in some areas. It the best quality butter available next to making it from your own cow.
WHAT IS GHEE?
Ghee, also called clarified butter, is a product used extensively in India and some other nations. It is just butter with the milk solids removed. As a result, it is clear in color and has less of a buttery taste.
Ghee is made by gently heating butter just a little, until the white-colored milk solids separate. These are skimmed off, leaving ghee.
Ghee has certain advantages over butter, specifically for cooking. Without the milk solids, ghee will not burn as easily, and can be heated to a higher temperature as a result. Ghee is also a little more yang than butter. These are its main advantages, as far as I know. If you are not going to cook with butter, or if you don’t care if it burns a little, then making or buying ghee is probably not important.
Butter, in fact, has a few advantages over ghee. The milk solids contain some added nutrients, which are lost when one makes it into ghee.
IS AVOIDING BUTTER THE WAY TO CONTROL CHOLESTEROL?
The observations of many natural health practitioners indicate that a balanced body chemistry is the key to normalizing cholesterol. Dr. William Koch, MD, 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." (Normal oxidations refers to the efficient burning of food and the generation of adequate energy from food.)
Most cholesterol is manufactured within the body. A maximum of about 4% of all cholesterol comes from the diet. Cholesterol is the raw material for the adrenal stress hormones and the sex hormones. The body often reacts to stress by producing more cholesterol. This allows the body to make more stress-fighting hormones. As biochemical stress is reduced through a scientific nutrition program, cholesterol levels often decrease without the need for restrictive diets.
In fact, eating some animal products often helps balance body chemistry. In these instances, cholesterol levels or the cholesterol/HDL ratio improves, although the diet contains cholesterol-containing foods.
FAST OXIDATION, FATS AND OILS
In general, fast oxidizers can and should eat more butter and other quality fatty foods. Their faster metabolism handles the fats and oils very well. These foods have a calming, relaxing effect on their metabolism. We say these people are like cars with 8 or 10-cylinder engines. They burn more calories and thrive on higher-calorie foods, particularly fats and oils. It they do not eat them, they will crave carbohydrates, the other ‘fuel’ food.
“True” fast oxidizers, those whose body chemistry is actually in fast oxidation, usually have low cholesterol levels. Today, however, many people whose hair mineral analysis indicates fast oxidation are only “temporary” fast oxidizers. This means they will quickly change to slower oxidizers when their bodies are properly supported nutritionally. These people usually do not do as well on more butter and other fats, although some is fine.
Even those with slow oxidation rates, however, can eat some butter unless they are sensitive to it. Butter is an excellent overall food for everyone at all ages.
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.